In October of last year, we were pleased to welcome Jeff Keener as he took over the helm of Red Thread. Now, almost one year later we catch up with Jeff and ask him a few questions about his experience to date and how he’s adjusting to his newly adapted city!
You’ve held numerous positions over your 30 year tenure at Steelcase, what skills have you found most useful as you take the helm at Red Thread?
I spent a good deal of my Steelcase career working closely with dealers and it allowed me a great opportunity to observe how the best dealers manage their business. That experience has been helpful as I’ve made the transition to Red Thread. Above all, I recognize this is a people business. Our success is based on attracting smart, creative, dedicated people to our business. Then, supporting them so they’re empowered to help our customers. In the short time I’ve been here, I’ve tried to focus on our people.
How would you describe Red Thread’s personality and how does that position the company in the marketplace?
It’s hard to describe Red Thread as just one personality because we’re a collection of businesses…audiovisual, technology, architectural products, floor covering and furniture. The wide product offering positions us well in the market. Most importantly, we’re at our best when we really understand customer needs and apply our offerings to create great work spaces. I believe that providing customers with insight-led applications, not just products, is what’s most important to our future. Increasingly, those applications will include architecture, furniture and technology.
When you envision the office of the future what do you see?
For many of the organizations we serve, the office of the future will center on innovation. Customers will continue to support a range of functions in their offices but creating spaces that support innovation and collaboration will be the top priority. Additionally, work will be supported by an increasing amount of technology and large screen display to enable better connectivity with colleagues near and far. Red Thread is well positioned to help customers connect technology and space.
You’re a newly minted Bostonian, what is the most fascinating thing you’ve discovered about your adopted city?
This is a great city and it’s been fun to explore. I’ve lived primarily in the Midwest and the history of Boston is fascinating. I’ve been living in the Navy Yard area and I’ve found the experience there over the past 8 months to be very enjoyable. My wife and I are buying a home in Belmont and we’re looking forward to it. But, I’ll miss being in the city.
Being a CEO can be a stressful endeavor, what keeps you grounded and energized?
Helping our people and our customers be successful keeps me energized. I really enjoy our business because we have a unique opportunity to connect with virtually every organization (corporate, education, healthcare, government, etc.) in the area. That’s part of what makes our business interesting. As for the stress of the new job, I try to work out every day. I’m an avid runner and cyclist. Boston is great for both of those passions.