Rise of the Healthy Office


Citing mounting evidence that sitting for extended periods of time is unhealthy, the American Medical Association is urging employers to offer workers alternatives to sitting, including standing workstations.1


Physicians have been calling on Americans to get on their their feet for decades, but the AMA made it official at their annual meeting in 2013, adopting a policy recognizing potential risks of prolonged sitting and encouraging employers, employees and others to make available alternatives to sitting all day.


But it isn’t just physicians calling for a shift away from full-time sitting.

Employee Desires


A majority of employees say they want the option to stand on the job.2


In fact:

75% of full-time employees of large companies wish they didn’t spend most of their working hours sitting

84% prefer to sit and stand at will

61% dislike or even hate sitting all day

Productivity benefits


Employees also say they’d be more productive if given the choice to sit or stand at will,2 including :

60% of all full time workers

81% employees who wish that their employer would offer these workstations

Health Benefits


There are also health benefits associated with a reduction in sitting.


Twenty-five perfect (25%) of full-time employees admit they’ve previously sought medical treatment for aches and pains caused by their work environment. 2


Healthy Office furniture offers promising benefits when it comes to reducing aches and pains associated with work. A Stanford University back pain study found that sit-stand desk users were 78% more likely to report a pain-free day than those who used regular workstations.3


A study from the Division of Health Policy & Management at the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health, found that sit-stand workstation users replaced approximately 25% of their sitting time with standing, and reported an increased overall sense of well-being, decreased fatigue and reduced appetite.4


Employees overwhelmingly adopted the use of these workstations and they were rated as “highly popular” with 96% of participants.4

What Does This mean For Retailers?


In order to better understand what these trends mean for the office furniture and supply industry, Deflecto commissioned Hanover Research to investigate the projected scope of the “Healthy Office” product category.


According to Hanover’s Preliminary Market Assessment, delivered to Deflecto in April 2017, the Healthy Office segment could represent up to one-third of the total Office Furniture Manufacturing industry sales in 3-5 years.5


By 2021, healthy/active furniture products could account for up to $9 billion of the total U.S. Office Furniture Manufacturing industry ($27.4B).5


Product segments in this space include:

* Healthy Seating – 16.6 percent ($1.4B)

* Healthy Desks – 7.2 percent ($650M)


Electric sit-stand desks range from approximately $500-2,000 apiece. Assuming this range is an acceptable proxy for estimating future market penetration of “healthy desks,” there could be between 325,000 – 1.3 million units in use across U.S. offices by 2021 (this estimate does not consider cheaper alternatives to dedicated sit-stand systems, so the real figure may be substantially higher).5


  1. Brown, Eryn. “AMA to offices: Don’t make workers sit all day!” Los Angeles Times. 18 June 2013. Web. Accessed 05 April 2017.
  2. “Three out of Four Full-Time Employees of Large Companies Wish They Didn’t Spend Most of Their Working Hours Sitting” | Ipsos In North America. 19 Aug. 2010. Web. Accessed 06 Apr. 2017.
  3. Ognibene, Grant T. BA; Torres, Wilson BS; von Eyben, Rie MS; Horst, Kathleen C. MD, “Impact of a Sit-Stand Workstation on Chronic Low Back Pain: Results of a Randomized Trial”, Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine: March 2016 – Volume 58 – Issue 3 – p 287–293
  4. Dutta, N.; Koepp, G.A.; Stovitz, S.D.; Levine, J.A.; Pereira, M.A. “Using Sit-Stand Workstations to Decrease Sedentary Time in Office Workers: A Randomized Crossover Trial.” Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014.
  5. Kurz, Johnathan (Hanover Research). “Re: Chairmats Preliminary Market Assessment.” Message to Gretchen Russell. 10 April 2017. E-mail.

How It Started…


To understand the birth of Midwest Resource Group, founded by Ed Glass in 1965, we have to retreat more than 100 years to 1856 and Bavarian immigrant Daniel Berolzheimer opening a pencil shop in New York City and subsequently, a factory in Yonkers, NY, calling it the Eagle Pencil Company.


For the generations that followed, the pencil was the cornerstone of written communication. It was also an important item of barter during the Great Depression in the 1930’s with unemployed men selling pencils on street corners, as everyone needed pencils. But by the 1960’s the omnipresent and widely-established #2 Eagle pencil was the scrivener of choice for students across the United States, and Ed Glass was one of their top salesmen.


But Ed was in a situation.  During a routine meeting with the sales manager of the Eagle Pencil Company, Ed was informed that his services in sales for a multi-state territory would no longer be required, as the organization decided to outsource the company’s sales efforts with Independent Manufacturer’s Representatives.


Ed replied quickly and candidly to this news. ‘That’s interesting because I’m actually here to resign.’


It’s interesting to note that although the times were about to be a-changing late in the decade. In 1965 the US citizenship still led a relatively tame and cookie-cutter existence reminiscent of the 1950’s with the one-income family and not many career or job changes at all. So Ed’s declaration was news indeed, and a bold move besides.


The supervisor immediately realized what was happening and said, ‘You can’t quit. You’re one of my top pencil salesmen.’


Ed explained, ‘I am resigning because I have started my own Independent Manufacturers’ sales agency.’ And after a brief discussion, it was decided by the sales manager that Ed would represent Eagle Pencil with his own company. His gamble had paid off.


The next move was to inform his wife Penny. ‘I have some good news and some bad news. Bad news: I’ve been fired. Good news: we have a new company.’ Calling it Midwest Representatives, the brand was created and a company was born.


Since that fateful day in June of 1965, as the business environment has evolved, so has Midwest. The company grew to include Business Products, Contract Furniture, Education, MRO/Industrial, and Hospitality. Within these channels, Midwest works with a wide range of resellers including national retail chains, national and regional wholesalers, independent dealers, buying groups, national contract resellers, and direct marketing resellers (direct mail and e-commerce), providing a variety of resources to the industry.


In October 2012, Midwest Representatives rebranded to Midwest Resource Group to reflect the changes in the marketplace and the resources provided to the valued manufacturers and resellers.


Managing Partner Steve Glass adds, ‘Our services have expanded far beyond what most people would traditionally associate with manufacturers’ representatives. These services include multiple Sales Platforms to meet the objectives of the Manufacturing Partners, Content Development & Management, Digital Administrative Services, Consulting Services, Showroom Services and Incomar Services for the development of content.’


However, one important quality has remained constant through the expansion, and that is the keen passion for the task at hand, always knowing the customer, which has been passed on from Ed Glass to his sons and managing partners Dan, Stuart and Steve.


One of Ed Glass’ Eagle pencils, the article of writing that has been part of the fabric of communication for over 150 years, stands as a symbol on display at the Midwest Resource Group corporate headquarters in Buffalo Grove, IL. More than that actually, it’s a coat of arms that signifies persistence, entrepreneurism, and a plain willingness to work hard.


-Stuart Glass

Passion is the Key to Success


I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.”  —  Albert Einstein


And so it appeared to be, with rumors abounding that Einstein was a less-than-stellar student. Actually, there was good and bad. His primary education grades in Munich were decent but he hated the rote, disciplined style of the teachers, and dropped out when he was 15. Then, he flunked the entrance exam for the polytechnic institute in Zurich, passing math but failing the botany, zoology and language sections. He liked what he liked.


In an ever-changing marketplace and more competition, we don’t have that luxury. Midwest Resource Group knows it is imperative to focus on the product—first by becoming ‘passionately curious’, which means developing an interest, then a desire to learn as much as possible about the product. This includes all its intrinsic values to the user and its uniqueness within the category. By striving to feel what the inventor felt, there is no doubt it will be easier to sell that product with passion. And no one’s going to do it for you—it must be your will and drive to be the champion of the product, its ultimate advocate, and that will make the difference.


But how do you effectively communicate this information to the consumer? Keeping that personal passion and curiosity for the product at a high level while articulating its features and benefits is crucial, also making sure the copy is current, its information readily available and updated constantly. Using images and video in conjunct with powerful copy is potent storytelling, along with weaving a persuasive argument as the final piece of the puzzle to communicate why someone should buy your product.


It seems so easy to understand and implement in theory, but it’s not necessarily that in practice. The simple fact remains that the more you know about your product, the more ideas and bullet points you will visualize, the better you’ll be able to grasp and develop an effective sales program, and in the end the stronger sales you’ll have with the product.


We’re not all Einstein, and maybe that’s a good thing.


-Dan Glass

Our Investment Strategy Yields Results!


What are you doing to understand, examine, and help improve your presentation on your customers sites?


At Midwest Resource Group, we invest our time and energy to engage our resellers to enhance the product presentation. Our work is based on proven strategic processes, while we accept and realize that there is not always a singular answer to most questions. Every single reseller is a universe in and of itself, and we embrace those differences.


The ancient Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu said ‘know thy self, know thy enemy.  A thousand battles, a thousand victories.’ An interpretation of this quote leads us to recognize it takes more than intelligence and a willingness to invest (in your reseller) to succeed. We need to become intimate with the available options, study the existing view, and put in the time to improve the outcomes. If you don’t put in the time, you never going to get to the desired result.


This process must include upfront analysis by examining the interface and defining a process. The process must include knowing the people that are administering the system in order to collaborate and deliver to them the assets in a manner that leads to improving the interface.  This allows us to provide a persuasive feature-benefit-solution oriented direction, in the end helping to increasing conversion-to-basket percentage.


We focus on effective delivery…. we understand the difference between efficient and effective delivery.


Midwest Resource Group is uniquely poised to apply proven time and energy, strategy and processes, to improving our resellers sites by managing and delivering in an effective consistent manner. In the end, it is all about the result.


-Dan Glass

How to Pick Your Tombow Pencil for the Lettering Trends!



Have you ever wondered how to pick the best pencil when you are doing a lettering project? There are so many kinds of pencils out there and it’s not always clear which is the best to use in specific situations.




The Tombow Mono Drawing Pencil Set is a must-have for any lettering artist! I often get asked by other letterers which kind of Tombow Mono Drawing Pencil that I use… and it’s not always easy to answer because I use ALL of them, but I use different degrees of pencils for different tasks and projects.


When you open up a Tombow Mono Drawing Pencil Set, you will find 12 different Tombow Mono Drawing Pencils, including 6B, 5B, 4B, 3B, 2B, B, F, HB, H, 2H, 3H, and 4H. The pencils come unsharpened with a metallic sharpener and the Tombow Mono Light Touch Plastic Eraser. Make sure to open up the inside of the packaging to reveal a synopsis of the kinds of pencils in the pack and techniques for using them artistically.





The best way to know what pencil to pick for a certain lettering project is to really KNOW your pencils and the different degrees of hardness that cause each pencil to produce a different shade and effect and Tombow Pencils don’t smudge! Each Tombow Pencil is labeled with a specific level of hardness, pencils are made of graphite and super easy to sharpen because the lead doesn’t break… all cores are glued end-to-end. The degree range of the Tombow Mono Drawing Pencils in the set are 6B, the softest lead that produces the thickest and darkest lines, through 4H, the hardest lead that creates thin and light lines that are easy to erase. The soft B Leads of the 6B, 5B, 4B, 3B, 2B, H, and HB offer deep blacks. The F pencil creates dark lines that are long lasting but able to create intricate details. The H pencils are harder and are more precise while creating lighter lines.


The best way to get to know each pencil is to write a sample of each pencil in order of hardness so it’s easy to decide which pencil you want to grab for a specific lettering task.





When starting lettering or calligraphy, I always recommend starting with a pencil. All of the pencils in this set are FABULOUS for lettering practice, but different degrees of hardness are better for specific types of practice.


WHEN LEARNING LETTER FORMS: Grab any of the MONO Drawing Pencils in the H degree range (HB-4H) or the F pencil. These pencils have harder graphite tips that will be perfect for forming precise shapes. Any type of lettering or calligraphy requires a certain amount of preciseness and consistency in strokes. When trying a new style or trying to perfect a specific letter form, the harder tips are great for focusing on the shape and consistency of the letters you create.


WHEN PRACTICING APPLYING PRESSURE TO CREATE CALLIGRAPHY: Using the MONO Drawing Pencils in the B degree range (6B-B) is the best. When using a brush pen is difficult or you don’t want to waste ink, picking up any of the B pencils is great to practice applying pressure for thick downstrokes and removing pressure for thin upstrokes. The lead in these pencils is soft enough to produce dark lines with thick downstrokes and thin upstrokes without their tips breaking. These pencils are also great when using practice sheets (click here for Tombow Practice worksheets) made for smaller brush pens, like the Tombow Fudenosuke Hard and Soft Tip Brush Pens.


Tombow Mono Drawing Pencils are also fabulous for practicing, because they are so precise and easy to locate mistakes and areas for growth and focus. It is easy to pick up on inconsistencies when using a pencil and it’s also easy to remove and correct when you have the Tombow Mono Light Touch Plastic Eraser handy. Erase your mistakes and try again…





Sometimes as a letterer we want to go straight to brush pen and final paper when creating a final piece, but sketching is so important. When you sketch out your ideas it not only saves paper and time before putting ink to paper, but it also helps you pay close attention to the composition of your piece and allows you to make changes to your first idea before making it final. Both H and B drawing pencils are great for sketching.


INITIAL SKETCHES AND NEW IDEAS are perfect creations for the H degree range pencils (H-H4). I often pick up the 4H for a new sketch because it produces lighter and precise lines that I find easy to erase with the Tombow Mono Light Touch Plastic Eraser.


FINAL SKETCHES that are ready to go on a light table to create a final piece are usually created with my B range pencils (B6-B). When I am happy with a design idea and ready to take it to the next level, I love to go over my initial sketch with an 5B or 6B pencil to create dark lines. I continue using the 5B or 6B Tombow Mono Drawing Pencils to create faux calligraphy, drawing in thicker down strokes to get the effect of the brush pen or lettering tool that I will choose to make the final project. These lines are very dark, do not smear, and show up perfectly under mix media paper on a light table.





As a calligrapher, one of my very favorite projects is addressing envelopes for parties, events, or special notes. Sometimes, picking up a pen without sketching out an address can be a bit unsuccessful and often leads to wasting envelopes and time. Sketching out the outline of an envelope is a great way to make sure that each name and address will fit and look amazing. I often choose to sketch addresses with the 4H pencil, because the light lines are easy to remove with the Tombow Mono Light Touch Plastic Eraser, which is also perfect for envelopes of all kinds, because it’s light touch is very gentle for all kinds of paper.


After I create an address that I am happy with, I then write over the pencil with the Tombow Fudenosuke Hard Tip or Soft Tip Brush Pen. The light pencil lines of the 4H Tombow MONO Drawing Pencil hide behind the dark ink of the brush pens.


After the address is complete, erasing all the pencil lines that stick out from the inked address is super easy with the Tombow Mono Light Touch Plastic Eraser, which creates a clean and perfectly imperfect look to any envelope.





Also, don’t be afraid to try out the different kinds of pencils for yourself. The more you practice lettering with them, the more familiar you will become on your pencil picking preferences. However, NEVER FEAR, because if you have a PROJECT IDEA, there is DEFINITELY a PENCIL to go with it!


-Steven Glass