Fríant Feature: Get to Know Paul Fríant
What initially sparked your interest in office furniture?
My interest in office furniture began because of my dad. He had a dealership, so on summer vacations, I would work for him. I started with sweeping floors and eventually got into working with furniture. Later on, I decided to start my own company, which was service work where I repaired old furniture and installed it. I realized people needed more than just repairing, so I made furniture for them and sold it to them.
The real spark of where I am today is after I got through the hump of taking something used, selling it, painting, adding fabric, and building multiples of it. So why not design something that’s my own?
Now I’m a manufacturer.
The partnership between Fríant and Cubespace has created a global alliance – can you talk a bit about that?
As I went through the process of buying used furniture and refurbishing, I ran out of things I needed for each job and had to source products through other people, and they started to take advantage.
I got a phone call one day from someone saying, “Hey, I’ve got this guy from China, and he wants to see an American factory.” I told him I didn’t have a factory but he was more than welcome to come. He came and wanted to see what it was I was doing and seeing if he could sell me parts from China. I gave him a box of parts, and he took them back with him. A month later, I received a new box of parts that looked exactly like the parts I had left with him. He had manufactured the parts to the exact specs.
“That guy” would turn out to be my business partner and best friend to this day. His role within Friant has been the driving force of our supply chain and parts manufacturing for Friant.
Two weeks after I received the replicated parts I jumped on a plane and went to China. The rest is history.
With Fríant’s global network, you’re always traveling so – what are three things you never travel without?
I never leave without my travel work bag. I only use it when I go to China, and it has everything I need. It’s an accumulation of things from the past 22 years. Here’s some of what’s inside:
- Battery Pack
- Extra shirt
- Cold medicine
An agenda. You have to have a plan. I always know who I’ll be meeting with, what we’ll be focusing on, and how I’m getting there.
I’m only gone for 6 to 7 days most of the time. I make sure I’m healthy and try to get my sleep patterns aligned; that way I’m ready to work right away.
As you continue to work with product development, what is your favorite Fríant system?
Interra because of its cleanliness, its ability to go together with ease and how the lines meet each other. It works well with all of our components, whether it’s Dash, shelving, storage, legs, or worksurfaces. It’s sophisticated and seems to match and blend well together.
It looks good, installs well and performs. That’s what’s key in this industry. It goes back to the panels — the total solution.
When it comes to life outside of Fríant, what are your favorite way to recharge?
Go to the lake. Golfing.
But I would say getting into a different social experience is the best. Being around people that don’t want to just talk about work. Whether it’s my work or their work, any type of work will prompt a thought in my own brain as well.
Putting yourself in places where everyone is active, including yourself and doing something different is usually a pretty good place to go.