THE COMPANY WAS FOUNDED BY BRANDI SUSEWITZ, WHO HAS MORE THAN 20 YEARS OF EXPERIENCE AT SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA OFFICE FURNITURE DEALERSHIPS, BUT LIKE SO MANY OTHERS, FOUND HER INCOME BATTERED BY THE PANDEMIC.
by Rob Kirkbride
What began as Clear Office, an effort to keep the mountains of discarded office furniture that ends up in landfills from reaching that final, trash-filled destination, has evolved into Reseat, a comprehensive plan to track furniture before it even hits an office so it can be better utilized when it comes time to remove it.
Reseat, the rebranded name of Clear Office, is still designed to connect furniture buyers with used furniture, ut it has added many more features since Brandi Susewitz launched it last year. The changes to the company and its mission came after long hours of listening to manufacturers, dealers, designers, and the companies they serve.
All the parties liked the original Clear Office concept to create a marketplace for companies to get rid of their old furniture while creating an attractive website for designers to acquire used products for a fraction of the
price. They also wanted a way to track furniture purchases from the start to make it easier to identify what is on hand when the customer decides to dispose of the furniture. It is a key addition to the concept that takes away guesswork about what furniture is in a given space.
Major Changes to the program led to the change of name to Reseat, Susewitz said.
“One day I was sitting there with my husband and I said, ‘The way that people are going about selling their furniture is all backwards.’ And that’s when I came up with an idea about creating the second lifecycle passport. So I said, ‘What if there was a way to issue a receipt ID or second lifecycle passport to every single new furniture order?’ And so that’s basically what we did,” she said, adding that it is the only way you can go about it in order to successfully sell an existing inventory.
Here is how it is designed to work: Say you are a major tech company, and you are purchasing brand new furniture from your dealer. Most of the furniture might come from an aligned manufacturer, but it was also include a wide mix of products from many manufacturers. At the time the furniture was purchased, the customer would receive a receipt ID or second lifecylce passport, which would have all the information about their furniture order stored in the cloud.
The entire furniture layout showing all the furniture, how it is configured, specifications (including fabrics, finishes and quantities) would be included in the second lifecycle passport. Reseat would take the SIF file from the dealer and upload it to the platform. The platform will create product renderings of those pieces. Reseat
creates something similar to a spec sheet that is ready for the client, who can use it to track their inventory.
Say the tech company is ready to relocated five years later. At the time they are talking tot heir real estate broker, maybe to look for more space, which usually happens about a year or 18 months before they are actually relocating, they can go on the Reseat platform and mark which items they want to keep and which items they want to sell or donate. Reseat gets a notification saying the tech company is interested in selling X, Y, and Z items. Reseat then goes to the site and verifies that everything is still there and updates the drawing if needed. At that point, the furniture hits the Reseat website where it is matched with a buyer.
“The client, instead of trying to get rid of the furniture within four to sex weeks before they need to move out, which costs them a lot of money, and it ends up in landfill, can make some money off their investment,” Susewitz said. “We know this because statistics are telling us that basically 99% of office furniture is not getting a second life. It’s ending up in the landfill. And it’s really all because companies don’t have a way to proactively market and sell their furniture.
The company was founded by Susewitz, who has more than 20 years of experience at San Francisco Bay area office furniture dealerships, but like so many others, found her income battered by the pandemic. At the same time, her husband, Eric, also in the office furniture industry, was laid off. Few were buying new office furniture and the products Susewitz had in the pipeline had been put on hold or canceled.
She considered changing her profession altogether, but what really concerned her was the pre-owned office furniture market. She had read an article and learned that 17 billion pounds of office furniture ends up in landfills each year. Susewitz researched the issue and couldn’t find a website where you could buy and sell your used office furniture, add it to a cart, and check out with a delivery/installation option. She said she knew the used office furniture industry was broken and thought it was the perfect time to try to fix it by making it easier for people to buy and sell their unwanted office furniture.
Clear Office (now Reseat) was her idea to be the first online marketplace for companies to buy and sell their pre-owned office furniture.
Companies can get rid of their used office furniture easily while making a little money, and customers can buy it using an attractive website that makes it easy to shop for products.
The idea is solid, and Susewitz has strong financial backing. Reseat is spending $1 million on the technology and website to drive it. Now she needs the industry to get on board. Without participation from the industry, she has no marketplace. There is certainly interest, including from the majors. Her success depends on the furniture manufacturers seeing the environmental benefits, even if it means losing some new furniture sales.
“We’re approaching it through the dealers, we’re approaching it through the manufacturers, and we’re also approaching the end users directly,” she said. “The end users all want this. You know, we’re talking to Uber, LinkedIn, Oracle, all of these big companies completely see the vision, and they want this. It’s really going to be a push from the end-user side.”
“It can help manufacturers as well. Many companies have added online retail sales, but don’t know how to handle returns from individual customers. All of the returned furntiure can be sold on Reseat, turning a problem into profit.
Susewitz launded Clear Office at NeoCon and won a technology award for it. She is relaunching Reseat at NeoCon in June, when the technology and website with the added features will be in place.” BoF