Picture the chief executive of an international bank, oil company, or car manufacturer hard at work. Probably the first image that comes to mind is of a man sitting behind a table in a large room.
Not a desk, but a big imposing table. Drill into your imagination and that table is probably made from a very beautiful wood. Perhaps with a leather top. Or it might be made from steel and glass. Whatever the style, it is an impressive piece of furniture - and it won’t have arrived flat-packed.
Few office furniture companies design and manufacture purely for the world of the super-executive and the multi-national, but Valencia-based JMM does. Hence its products are in demand from clients around the world, and it’s no surprise to learn that its executive desks and boardroom tables can be found in corporate headquarters from London to Riyadh to Nigeria.
JMM is a family-owned company founded in 1896. It’s run by the third generation of the Martinez Medina family, and MD José Martínez Medina, a trained architect, is also the principal product designer.
Marta Estébanez, area manager Europe, says JMM has weathered the financial turmoil of the past five years surprisingly well. While it’s experienced a 30 per drop in domestic orders, that’s been cancelled out by a rise in exports, so the annual turnover has been steady at around 7 million euros.
‘Obviously, we have the advantage that we are a very well-known and long-established brand, and architects and specifiers know the exceptional quality and finish of our furniture.
‘But we have also always looked after our relationships with our partner companies around the world, so we are in a good place to win major contracts when they come up.’
JMM employs around 40 people, and the furniture is made by a skilled workforce that includes cabinet makers, upholsterers and metalworkers. Products take time to manufacture, for example, the teams might take a month to make three conference tables. If you’re wondering how the maths works, a JMM conference table to seat 30 is going to cost in the region of 100,000 euros.
Estébanez makes the point that the fine cabinet work for which the company is renowned these days has to accommodate very complex electronics for computers and audio-visual equipment. For this, they have electronics partners who design the systems.
‘Many of our corporate clients want their teams to travel less. As such they are investing in facilities for teleconferencing, and they need very large tables that can allow for this. And they like our products because you’ll never see a cable or a wire, it’s all hidden.’
JMM, which exhibited at the Milan Furniture Fair, exports predominantly to the Middle East, Russia and more recently to Nigeria and Uganda and clients include oil companies, banks and governments. Estébanez is working to increase sales in Europe, and admits she’s got her work cut given the economic situation.
JMM is an environmentally-friendly company, and is proud to have achieved ISO 14001 certification. ‘We use sustainable materials, namely FSC woods and technical leathers, and metal, which is recyclable. As a company we are very energy-efficient and because we make all our products to order, we produce very little waste. I think we send hardly anything to landfill,’ says Estébanez.
‘We know clients do consider a company’s environmental approach, and we take care to be environmentally responsible.’
The style of JMM products is best-defined as classic contemporary, and Estébanez says the company doesn’t have to chase fashion ratings, or be neophilic. ‘We bring out new collections, but we aren’t pressured to keep up with trends and fashion. Our designs are timeless, since our products have to last for many years, and our clients tell us what finishes and colours they want.
So the pieces look different every time.’
So is 2013 going to be a good year for JMM? ‘I can say we have now been approved for a big project in Abu Dhabi. It’s been five years in the making, so it’s very good news,’ says Estébanez.