Delaney Brothers Furniture

(pictured: Delaney Brothers Contract Furniture Consultant principals Rosemary, Kevin, Paul and Brian Delaney)

Contract-grade commercial office furniture is typically designed to last about 20 years. But their replacement cycle has accelerated lately with workplace changes that tend to make furniture obsolete before it ever wears out.

Cranberry-based Delaney Brothers - actually three brothers and one sister - deal in furniture for offices, educational institutions, government buildings and healthcare facilities. So they are particularly attuned to changes in the workplace that influence their clients’ furniture needs. Twenty years ago, for example, people had computer monitors on their desks.

Delaney Brothers “We don’t have big PCs anymore; we have flat screens and laptops that use less space,” Kevin Delaney explained. “We used to sell big corner desks because the monitors were that big. Now people work from home, or they’re mobile. Or they may have shared work space, coming in only on Mondays and Wednesday with somebody else coming on Tuesday and Thursday. And cubicles are shrinking because the real estate inside a business is very expensive.”

Partition heights and materials are also changing, usually to improve acoustics and reduce the amount of artificial lighting required.

“There’s also the whole green concept,” sister Rosemary added. “People don’t have that much paper on their desk anymore. If you have two drawers and a file cabinet, that’s sufficient for many people. Everything is online; it’s in a cloud where it can be accessed easily. Things don’t get lost like they used to.”

Contemporary work patterns are another important influence. “It’s a collaborative environment,” she noted. “You want people sitting in shared spaces with desks that are mobile or chairs that can be moved easily into a mini conference center.”

To keep up with the evolving needs of their clients, the Delaney Brothers represent dozens of producers, and hundreds of products, sourced from all over the world. Contract furniture, the term the company uses to describe its business, is a concept of furniture sales that is far more encompassing than normal retail transactions. It frequently includes consultation, space planning, staging, delivery, installation, and follow-up support.

But unlike a consumer-oriented furniture business, the Delaney business doesn’t start with a customer walking into a showroom or warehouse - although several of the companies they represent do operate showrooms in and around Pittsburgh. Nor do the Delaneys maintain an inventory of furniture on hand. Instead, one of the brothers will typically meet with a buildings’ architect, designer, purchasing agent or facility manager to learn how the space will be used, and then develop a blueprint showing what sorts of workstations, seating, storage, tables and movable walls would work most effectively - all within the client’s budget.

The sweet spot in Delaney Brothers’ market are organizations with 250 or fewer employees. Although the company has taken on projects involving multi-story office buildings, they are equally at home with clients looking for a single office chair.

The Delaneys formed their family’s business in 2006 after each of the brothers had built his individual career in various phases of the office furniture industry. For the past five years, they have maintained their company’s own office at Gigliotti Plaza, right in the heart of Cranberry’s business district, and close to each of their Township homes.