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Seattle furniture dealer snaps up competitor as employers eye return to offices

Catalyst Workplace Activation, the region's largest office furniture dealer, has acquired one of its major local competitors, Western Office Interiors.

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By Joey Thompson – Reporter, Puget Sound Business Journal

Mar 3, 2022, 5:55pm EST

Catalyst Workplace Activation, the region's largest office furniture dealer, has acquired one of its major local competitors, Western Office Interiors.

The deal was driven by the recent formation of MillerKnoll, a furniture manufacturing company representing 19 brands that occurred in July when Herman Miller acquired Knoll. In the deal for Los Angeles-based Western Office Interiors, Catalyst absorbs one of its biggest Seattle competitors and gains Western's expertise on Knoll products.

"We now represent a full package, a full breadth of products for our customers that we haven’t had before," Catalyst CEO Sean O'Brien told the Business Journal.

Founded in 1982, Tukwila-based Catalyst's clients include Tableau, Schnitzer West, Climate Pledge Arena, the Kraken Community Iceplex, and St. Joseph's Medical Center.

Catalyst is not disclosing the financial terms of the deal. But the dealer now projects its 2022 revenue to surpass $90 million. In 2020, the company reported $87 million in sales, according to Business Journal research. Data from 2021 was not available.

The company's positioning for growth comes as Covid-19 cases wane and employers across the country roll out return-to-office plans, with many of them targeting March and April. At the same time, employers are faced with rethinking what offices should look like for hybrid work.

In addition to the acquisition, Catalyst is preparing to open a new product and brand facility this summer in Bellevue's Spring District, next to Meta Platform Inc.'s growing campus.

"The new space will definitely inspire new thinking around the workplace, and specifically the activities that certain vertical markets will want to elevate when their employees come back," O'Brien said. "It’s really a giant experiment and nobody really knows the outcome."

The future of the workplace will become much clearer when workers actually return, he added.

"You can’t make all of those decisions until you have feedback," he said. "That really has been missing. Surveys have been good snapshots for one period of time, but it's what people thought at that period of time, it’s not what they’ve experienced."

Read the article at the PSBJ here >