03 Jun AGING GRATEFULLY: AOS CELEBRATES OUR 40TH ANNIVERSARY
(As featured in the May 27 – June 9, 2016 edition of New Orleans CityBusiness)
At the turn of the 20th century, the Remington Rand Company invented the vertical file cabinet. This one innovation was a precursor to the founding of AOS and the growth of the company’s core competency as designers of records management systems. AOS Interior Environments (then known as Associated Office Systems) became an independent dealership in 1976 and in the same year opened offices in New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Shreveport.
When current president and CEO, Shelby Russ Jr., took the helm, he set his sights on diversifying AOS’ product offerings to include commercial furnishings. In 1992, AOS became the exclusive Knoll dealer in the Greater New Orleans area and has gone on to include over 300 furniture lines into the company’s portfolio. It was also under Russ’ leadership that the company incorporated all warehousing, installation and service in-house, ensuring full control over the entire fulfillment process.
While expansive product offerings and a one-stop shop business plan have provided a solid foundation, Russ attributes a solutions-focused philosophy to AOS’ long-term success. “Every business has a vision of its own image and how it wants to be perceived. They want their physical environment to reflect that personal vision, and it is our role to facilitate their ability to do so in the most efficient, resourceful way possible on their schedule and within their budget.”
The approach is evidently working because, in addition to celebrating 40 years in this market, the company is also experiencing some of its largest growth to date resulting in being named one of the fastest growing companies in the New Orleans area in terms of revenue, one of the top 50 Best Places to Work and one of the Top 50 Private Companies in New Orleans.
“We are extremely grateful to have served the region’s incredible architecture and design community for all these years and have no plans to slow down,” stated Russ. “Our diverse client base and their innovative design constantly challenge us to search out unique, and creative solutions to help them achieve their programming goals.”
Nowhere is this approach more apparent than in the company’s modular interior construction division. Established in 2006, the division facilitates building commercial spaces with pre-fabricated interior components such as walls, millwork, and flooring that support reconfiguration, extreme levels of customization, and designer finishes. This division of AOS functions as the exclusive Distribution Partner in Louisiana for DIRTT Environmental Solutions. DIRTT, which stands for Doing It Right This Time, is the technology-driven manufacturer of highly customized interior construction.
Rebecca Cooley, VP of Modular Interior Construction for AOS, explains. “We don’t make products, we build projects. While our components are best in class, it is the way you use them that makes them special. You tailor them to your needs and they are built quickly in a protected, clean factory ready for installing in your space. Our team is a local subcontractor to the General Contractor, and it’s the savvy General Contractor that harnesses the many benefits of DIRTT for the client.”
AOS continues to focus on customizable solutions in the furniture and storage divisions as well. Companies are increasingly seeking out designs with mobility, flexibility, sustainability and customization, making good solutions much more complex than ever before. Technology and the changing urban landscape are propelling a major shift toward worker mobility and intuitive spaces. Creating an environment that allows workers to achieve the balance they need to do good work is essential to a thriving business.
“It is critical to carry products that support sustainable design, because each space must change and adapt with the business landscape long after the keys are handed over to the owner.” Says Suzanne Dumez, VP of Business Development. “We work with clients all the time that experience changing environmental conditions even within their own project timeline. We are sensitive to those needs and try our best to future proof their space as far out as possible.”
AOS’ experience, bandwidth and position in the marketplace have equipped the company to partner with award winning architects and designers across the region. Among the many notable projects that AOS has worked on in recent years are the World War II Museum, Superdome, Orpheum Theater, New Orleans BioInnovation Center, Jazz and Heritage Foundation, Arlene Mereaux River Observation Center, the Saints and Pelicans practice facilities, and VA Hospital.
Russ is quick to express his appreciation for the dedication and loyalty that he has received over the years. “I am thankful everyday for all of the employees and their families, clients, friends and the New Orleans business community for their role in making AOS an outstanding company. We have accomplished a lot together during our first 40 years and have contributed to many of the regions leading businesses and commercial spaces. But what matters most now is what we have the potential to do in the years to come.”