A locally low-profile e-commerce furniture business that furnishes companies like Google, Uber and Chanel will soon open a high-profile storefront on San Marco Square.
Jacksonville-based Industry West is preparing to move from rented space at 1538 Hendricks Ave., next to Hightide Burrito Co., to the former Stellers Gallery space in San Marco Square at 1407 Atlantic Blvd.
Industry West co-founder and CEO Jordan England bought the Stellers Gallery building with a partner in mid-April.
“It’ll be a very different space than it is now,” England said last week as workers were demolishing the interior of the 4,300-square-foot gallery space. Stellers moved to a location along Philips Highway.
England and his wife, Anne, a co-founder, expect to move the business, and most of its 12 employees, to the new location in late summer.
The new Industry West headquarters will feature a showroom, retail space and a meeting room in the front portion, including iPads for customers to browse the extensive catalog, and an open workspace and lab-studio in the center and offices along one side for staff.
A 14-foot glass storefront system will be installed, and the interior will feature special touches like wood from Belgium.
Jordan declined to provide the renovation estimate, only to say “it will be substantial.”
And to think it all started because the young couple needed some dining chairs and couldn’t find what they wanted at a favorable price.
Jordan, 36 and Anne, 38, met as teenagers in 1995 on a mission trip in South Carolina. She was from Texas, he lived in Hilton Head, S.C.
They kept in touch and chose to attend Emory University, where she graduated with a master’s degree in theology and he earned a bachelor’s degree in history.
They married in 2005 and lived in North and South Carolina and in Jacksonville for a time. She worked with Baptist churches, including Hendricks Avenue Baptist Church, and he was in real estate and economic development.
In 2009, the couple lived in Beaufort, S.C., and began looking for dining chairs for their new home.
Jordan connected with manufacturers and found the chairs they wanted.
The idea struck: Identifying the best furniture for individual and corporate needs could be a business.
If they loved those chairs, why wouldn’t others? They figured that people wanted quality furniture without having to spend thousands.
Their original slogan was “Design for the People.”
Their garage became storage until it wasn’t large enough, so the business began leasing rented space for warehousing.
Anne continued working full-time while Jordan built the business.
When the recession took its toll on his job, they decided to return to Jacksonville. They registered England Trading Co. LLC with the state in 2011.
“Industry West” was chosen because it represents the entrepreneurial spirit and the creativity of the people and companies they want to foster.
Today they lease space in 68,000 square-foot warehouse space at 4011 Morton St. in Southside and a 60,000-square-foot distribution center in California, where they have many clients.
Four years ago, they moved the office into the Hendricks Avenue space after being home-based.
“It’s been very organic, and a love for design and a love for travel,” said Anne England.
They work with manufacturers worldwide to identify and curate furniture, such as barstools, chairs and sofas along with lamps and other accessories. They work with local businesses for finishing the pieces as needed.
The couple travels worldwide to identify and work with manufacturers.
Its slogan now is “Furnishing Modern Creativity.”
Their industrywest.com site describes the company as “supporting and mobilizing people who strive to be creative, whether it’s at home or at home. The whole word needs to achieve its creative potential,” it says.
For example, the site says the Marriott Flagship in Portland, Ore., ordered 700 bar stools for individual rooms, while Mellow Mushroom in Wrightsville Beach also ordered bar stools and chairs, all to achieve a certain vibe.
Facebook, Chick-fil-A, Starbucks, Whole Foods as well as Whole Foods Market cafes and the New York Yankees also are customers outside of Jacksonville.
In the city, Industry West furniture or barstools are used at M Shack, Town Hall, Moxie, Orsay, Taverna and Bold Bean Coffee.
“We try to key in on products people would use in their homes, offices or at the bar down the street,” Jordan said.
“We’re kind of little bit edgy,” he said, describing styles such as industrial, Italian, European and French bistro.
Industry West relies on analytics and data to plan for its products. It knows what sells and what doesn’t.
“We know where to stock and we know what turns over the most,” Jordan said.
They import through ports in Jacksonville, Savannah, Ga., and Long Beach, Calif.
They also give back to the community by providing furniture to nonprofits.
They declined to provide sales figures.
Along with the move, they want to expand staff to hire commercial sales, customer service and bookkeeping.
The couple has two daughters — a 3-year-old and a 2-month-old. Anne has been working with Hendricks Avenue Baptist Church and will be working with Industry West.
England Allen Holdings Inc. paid $904,000 for the San Marco building, developed in 1940, and took out two mortgages, totaling $1.26 million, from Synovus Bank.
Jordan England and friend Christian “Andy” Allen, who is the owner and founder of Corner Lot Properties, are managers of England Allen Holdings.
Course Contracting LLC is the contractor for the renovations.
The Flying Iguana restaurant had considered the space for a restaurant, but parking and other concerns changed those plans.
Returning to Jacksonville was fortuitous, the Englands said, because they found the warehouse space along with shipping and importing options, which aren’t as accessible in smaller towns.
The couple also moved their household to a 1936-built San Marco home, which they renovated and expanded.
“Raising a family, San Marco just felt like the right spot for us,” Jordan said.
“It’s walkability, creativity and overall feel truly align with our way of thinking not just as a company but as a family.”