4 Reasons to Make Improvements Over Winter Break

When it comes to furnishing campuses and higher education facilities, not only is it difficult to find the specific pieces you need to maximize style, function and form for students and staff, but it can also be challenging to find the right time to make those updates without inconveniencing your student body or causing additional headaches and stress along the way. The good news is that the upcoming winter break is the perfect time to refresh your facility!

At Blockhouse, we understand the value of completing winter break projects in lobbies, lounges and other public spaces in residence halls, student unions and other student-focused facilities. Keep reading to see four reasons why your campus should consider making these improvements while students are away, and contact us today to see how we can help with your upcoming winter break project.

Minimal Impact on Campus While Students are Away

Although not every individual on campus leaves over winter break, most do, which makes the weeks during winter break the perfect time to update your residence hall, lobbies, lounges and other public spaces. Since replacing furniture is typically a one- or two-day job, depending on your requirements, that means you will likely have extra time to freshen up paint, repair or replace flooring or even add cushions, lamps or other decor to create that familiar feeling of home. When campus is empty, it is easier to work on high-traffic areas and spaces that are typically occupied. Additionally, executing these projects during winter break reduces the volume of summer tasks.

Delight Students & Staff Upon Their Return

When it comes to education, it goes without saying that each student is unique and learns, interacts and lives with others differently. Yet the environment higher education institutions create affects everyone in it – even faculty and staff. By making those much-needed winter improvements to your lounges, lobbies and public spaces over break while everyone is away, you can surprise all of your stakeholders when they return to campus – showing them that not only do you care about the school and infrastructure, but that you also care about them.

Look Good for Spring Admission Events

If spring events are the cornerstone of your admissions strategy, it’s imperative that you put your best foot forward and ensure that campus looks appealing to incoming students and guests. Since prospective families will use this time as an opportunity to get to know your community, meet staff members and evaluate whether your institution is the right fit for their student, consider taking the winter break as an opportunity to refresh and revitalize spaces around campus with durable, comfortable and functional furniture that will shine during these critical spring events.

Take Advantage of Mid-Year Budget Availability

Once the fall semester has started, most schools can reliably predict both what their spring revenue and year-end financial positions will be. That means funds may be budgeted for facility improvements, and that also means the upcoming winter break is the perfect time to make those improvements with minimal impact around campus that enhance current and future student satisfaction.

Ready to Learn More?

At Blockhouse, we’re here for you from design through delivery. Whether you are looking to upgrade your residence halls, lounges, lobbies or other public spaces, or you’d like to speak with us about making improvements to your institution over winter break, contact us today. We’re standing by to help in any way we can, and we look forward to helping you choose the right furniture for your specific campus application.

Blockhouse Expands Residence Life Expertise with New Director of Higher Education

As a leading manufacturer of contract furniture for higher education environments, we’re always looking for ways to better serve college administrators, facility managers and residence life directors. And in keeping with this goal, we are proud to have created a new position on the Blockhouse team for industry veteran Todd Duncan as our new Director of Higher Education.

Todd brings a wealth of expertise to our team thanks to his decades of experience as a 4-time Director of Housing and Residence Life and university administrator. During his career, Todd has overseen the expansion of housing and food service infrastructure at a number of campuses, in some cases more than doubling the available facilities for students and staff.

Most recently Todd served as Sr. Associate Vice President of Campus Services at University of Cincinnati, and he is a former recipient of the Certified Auxiliary Services Professional (CASP) designation from the National Association of College Auxiliary Services (NACAS).

We sat down with Todd for a Q ‘n’ A to discuss his background and his goals for this new role at Blockhouse. We hope you will join us in welcoming Todd to the team, and we look forward to putting his expertise in designing and furnishing campus spaces to work for you!

Welcome, Todd! What brings you to the furniture industry after such a distinguished career as an administrator?

Thank you! Many of my friends and colleagues might not know this, but I’ve worked on building design, space planning, and even furniture design projects throughout my career, and I love it. In fact, my first new construction product was in 1995. I’ve had responsibilities that included student housing, food, retail, and more, and I have helped a number of schools keep pace with aggressive growth by expanding their housing and food service infrastructure.  So, I’ve been designing spaces, specifying furniture and overseeing campus facilities for decades. Joining a top furniture manufacturer with deep roots in higher education seemed like a great next step!

What do you love most about your work in higher education?

It’s interesting, furniture design and selection was always a part of the projects I handled, and it was always one aspect of a project that could really make or break the outcome. When a project is completed, and students finally arrive, it’s exciting to see their reaction to and interaction with a well-designed space with comfortable furnishings. It can really elevate their experience on campus. 

I love that process of creating welcoming, comfortable spaces for students. I have worked at big universities, small colleges, rural schools, urban schools, you name it. But ultimately, that feeling of creating a great physical environment where students, staff and university guests can truly be at their best is something I really love.

When did you first learn about Blockhouse furniture for higher education?

I’ve worked with Blockhouse furniture for decades, specifying it, purchasing it, maintaining it, and more. I’ve been a customer for a long time, and as a college administrator I know how great Blockhouse products are. Cost is always a huge factor when purchasing furniture, but with Blockhouse I learned that durability and quality can save a substantial amount of money over time. And that meant when purchasing Blockhouse, I was always confident my successors would be pleased too!

I’ve put Blockhouse furniture in a number of campus settings, from dorm rooms to lounges to libraries to food service areas, and more, and it has always been comfortable and long-lasting. In fact, I recall that our costs over time were always far lower with Blockhouse furnishings because we didn’t have to replace them. The pieces would last for decades. And it looks great, it’s comfortable, students love it, so it’s definitely a win, win, win proposition.

So as a school administrator you appreciated the longevity of Blockhouse furniture?

It’s the total package. This furniture is comfortable and stylish, so students love it, and it is some of the most durable furniture you can buy. So that means administrators love it too, because repair and replacement costs get pushed out dramatically. Sometimes decades. And that’s definitely a huge cost savings over time, and a great hedge against inflation especially in today’s economic climate. I saw this first hand throughout my career. An investment in quality always paid off in the long run. Every single time.

Do you have a favorite furniture project, that you recall?

I’ve been involved in so many and they’re all favorites! If I had to choose, I would say that one of the first Blockhouse projects I was involved with was when I had an idea for furniture pieces that could help maximize space in residence hall rooms. I came to Blockhouse to develop this idea, and we worked together to design what is now the C9 Space-Saver line. The idea originated with student feedback that because they were mostly working on their laptops, they didn’t feel they needed a desk. They wanted more floorspace instead. These C9 pieces are now used by students nationwide. And it all came from a great relationship with a vendor who was willing to work with us and listen to us and design something that would help solve our challenge. That’s Blockhouse in a nutshell!

And this is really what I’m looking forward to most in this new role here at Blockhouse. The great thing about Blockhouse is that we don’t want to just ship you furniture. We want to partner with you, and understand your needs, challenges and opportunities. We want to deliver the perfect solution for you. Reduce your stress, and take ownership of our work. It’s a collaboration, and I love that approach. Collaboration and service are baked into what we do here, and that’s what made me jump at the chance to join the Blockhouse team.

What’s next now that you’re officially on board?

I’m looking forward to collaborating with colleagues old and new across the country, to help them create great, comfortable, long-lasting spaces for their students and staff. I’ll be getting out there visiting campuses, and participating in industry associations and events. And quite frankly, I’m excited to explore new ways to help administrators make the most of their furniture investment. I’ve been doing this for so long, I know how to help college administrators get a handle on their furniture challenges and solve them for good. Plus, I just love to help, it’s in my nature. I’ve had great ride so far, and this is the start of a great new partnership. I can’t wait to see where it goes!

If you’re interested in discussing your furniture challenges with Todd Duncan, contact us today. Todd and the rest of the Blockhouse team are standing by to discuss your needs and develop creative solutions. We look forward to hearing from you!

Three Ways Custom Contract Furniture Can Benefit Your Education Organization

When it comes to furnishing education facilities, it can sometimes be hard to find the specific pieces you need to maximize form, function and style for students and staff. Luckily, with Blockhouse custom contract furniture, you’re not bound by off-the-shelf pieces. In fact, furniture customization at the scale you need is one of our specialties.

From gaining unique functionality, to coordinating with a wide range of design styles, to maximizing long-term ROI, our custom contract furniture can take your organization to the next level while helping you save money in the long run. 

Thanks to our in-house designers, experienced support staff, and Pennsylvania-based manufacturing facility, we can build the custom furniture you need specifically for your organization without sacrificing quality. Keep reading to see how our custom contract furniture solutions can benefit your higher education organization and contact us today to discuss your custom furniture needs!

Gain Specific Size or Functionality

If you need a specific size or have specific functionality in mind, but can’t find an off-the-shelf furniture piece that will work, consider a custom solution. Our designers can listen to your ideas, help you concept pieces that will work in your unique situation, and customize designs to exactly suit your needs. 

Best of all, since we have all of our manufacturing in-house, we can manufacture completely custom pieces at quantity, while maintaining full control over the process. This allows us to create specific pieces at scale, while maintaining a high level of quality and durability that will help you reduce costs over time. Interestingly enough, some of our most popular furniture pieces – such as our Space-Saver line – were born from custom designs when our customers brought us a challenge and our designers helped solve it.

Coordinate With Your Style

Designing a space involves so much more than choosing a piece of furniture that appeals to you. From finishes to upholstery to shapes and overall styles, we can design custom pieces that will feel right at home in any facility. Whether you’re looking for modern, minimalistic, retro or classic, we can create the look you’re going for when you can’t find it anywhere else. Thanks to a wide range of materials to choose from, in-house designers, and the latest CNC manufacturing machinery, we can bring just about any design style to life in the form of durable, comfortable furniture at the quantity your organization needs. 

Save Money Over Time

Blockhouse furniture is known for durability – and that means saving you money over time. Our custom contract furniture is no different. Gone are the days of replacing furniture after only a year or two, when wear-and-tear from rigorous cleaning, heavy use and busy environments sets in. If you have a durability challenge, we can most likely help you solve it. If you bring us your common failure issues, we’ll see what our team can do to eliminate them.

Built from domestically-sourced materials that will last decades, not years, our custom contract seating allows for the easy replacement of components and includes our patented Key-Loc cushion technology so that you can easily swap covers or flip cushions. Best of all, by investing in custom-manufactured furniture that eliminates failure points, your organization can reduce the need to budget for replacements year after year.

Ready to Learn More?

At Blockhouse, we’re there for you from design through delivery. Whether you have an idea in mind for your lobby, lounge, residence hall room, or something else, contact us today to speak to our team about developing a custom solution. We’re standing by to answer your questions and help you design the right furniture for your specific application. We look forward to connecting with you!

Video: Getting to Know Blockhouse

When it comes to investing in contract furniture, it’s important to work with a manufacturer who will help you develop creative solutions and deliver on every promise they make. At Blockhouse, we design, manufacture and deliver purpose-built contract furniture for a variety of unique environments and applications. From lounges, lobbies and waiting rooms to patient rooms, residence halls and beyond, we help facilities and organizations of all shapes and sizes maximize the value of their furniture investment. 

What’s more, we strive to deliver value during every interaction while helping you solve the contract furniture problems your organization might be facing. When you choose Blockhouse for your contract furniture requirements, you’re selecting a partner who will not only provide insight and direction while taking responsibility, but we will also help your organization be the best that it can be. 

Check out the video below to hear directly from our Owner and President about what it’s like to work with Blockhouse, and see how we take care to build strong relationships with our clients through our customizable, innovative contract furniture solutions.

If you’d like to learn more about how Blockhouse can partner with you to create durable, long-lasting, comfortable furniture for your healthcare, higher education, government or behavioral health facility, contact our team today. We’re happy to answer your questions and explore our contract furniture solutions together. We look forward to hearing from you!

How to Clean Vinyl Upholstery to Reduce Plasticizer Migration

When it comes to investing in new furniture for your behavioral health center, higher education campus, healthcare facility or other organization, it’s important to ensure that the pieces you choose are built to last. However, in some cases, unknowing maintenance staff may inadvertently damage pieces with vinyl upholstery by using harsh chemicals and cleaning agents.

Use of these kinds of chemicals can cause what is known as “Plasticizer Migration.” This condition leads to the deterioration of vinyl upholstery and can damage your furniture beyond repair. That makes it important to follow all manufacturer recommendations when cleaning your vinyl upholstery – to prevent plasticizer migration and ensure that your pieces will last for the long term.

Keep reading to learn more about how you can maximize the life of your vinyl with proper care. At Blockhouse, we are committed to helping you get the most out of your furniture investment, which is why we recommend taking extra care to prevent damage to your vinyl upholstery from plasticizer migration and other factors.

What is Plasticizer Migration?

Plasticizer migration is when the vinyl upholstery on your pieces becomes hard and brittle because of improper cleaning. When chemicals and other agents are left on your furniture after cleaning, they can cause plasticizer migration, which not only leads to cracked and broken upholstery, but also dramatically reduces the lifespan of your furniture. 

If you want your pieces to last for years without the need for reupholstery or replacement, it pays to take the right steps and avoid this occurrence. The good news is that with proper cleaning, plasticizer migration and the cracked vinyl upholstery it causes are 100% preventable!

Why is Plasticizer Migration Bad?

When upholstery begins to show signs of plasticizer migration, it means that your furniture is beginning to wear down, and its lifespan is wearing down, too. Not only does the vinyl look bad and feel worse, but you might also notice an effect on your long-term ROI, too – especially if the upholstery is so damaged that you need to purchase brand new pieces. 

Keep in mind that silicone is different from both vinyl or polyurethane in that it isn’t prone to plasticizer migration. That makes silicone one of the more durable upholstery options available. If you’re unsure about which material is best for you, our team is happy to answer your questions and help you make the right selection for your unique environment.

Signs of Plasticizer Migration

So how do you know if plasticizer migration has occurred? Inspect your furniture thoroughly, including all upholstery surfaces, cracks and crevices. Make sure that areas that aren’t typically touched or cleaned as often such as the backs and sides of the furniture or the space between the back and seat are still pliable and soft to the touch. When plasticizer migration happens, high-contact surfaces and areas that are cleaned multiple times a day will feel brittle, hard and will ultimately begin to crack. If you’ve noticed that your upholstery is becoming worn down and starting to split, crack or peel, the time for reupholstery or replacement is on the horizon. 

Proper Cleaning of Vinyl Upholstery to Reduce Plasticizer Migration

It is a common misconception that vinyl cracking and plasticizing is covered under manufacturers’ warranties – it is not. Nor will vinyl suppliers stand behind their products when plasticizer migration occurs, because it is preventable. Fortunately, at Blockhouse, our recommended cleaning procedures for upholstery are easy to follow – with no special equipment required!

To reduce plasticizer migration and help extend the lifespan of your vinyl furniture, we recommend using a mild detergent or a 90% water with 10% Clorox bleach solution. Most importantly, be sure to follow every cleaning with a 100% fresh water rinse, and then wipe the surface dry with a clean cloth.

By making sure the diluted bleach solution is completely wiped off, you will reduce the likelihood of damage to the upholstery. Think of it like washing your dishes and not rinsing them. The same idea applies to the care and cleaning of your vinyl upholstery. You don’t want to leave residue from cleaning agents on your pieces.

Helpful Tips to Consider When Caring for Your Vinyl Upholstery

To maximize the longevity of your vinyl upholstery, be sure to avoid abrasive cleaners that can scratch the surface, as well as harsh chemicals or solvents that can remove the plasticizers from the vinyl. In addition, we suggest a periodic cleaning to prevent the build-up of contaminants and dirt, which may cause permanent discoloration. Keep in mind that once damage has occurred, the only recourse is to reupholster and, in some cases when the damage is beyond repair, purchase an entirely new set of furniture. 

Ready to Learn More?

Whether you have questions regarding the proper care and cleaning of your vinyl contract furniture or you’d like to learn more about how Blockhouse can help your facility look and feel its best, contact our team today. We can answer your questions and help you determine which of our durable, long-lasting contract furniture lines is right for you. We look forward to hearing from you!