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BCFA Member of the Month - Pledge Q&A

Springtime has arrived, which means it’s time to celebrate and showcase our newest BCFA Member of the Month, Pledge Office Chairs! We began the first day of Spring by speaking to the Sales and Marketing Director, Stephen Russel at Pledge Office Chairs / Edge Design.

Please can you introduce Pledge Chairs / Edge Design?

Pledge Office Chairs was established in May 1970 by David Carter, our Managing Director; the objective was to specialise in the production of swivel adjustable office seating from 180 m2 premises, employing just ten personnel.

By 1972 the business had moved to a new purpose built 464m2 premises, with the work force expanded to fifty employees.

Five years later the company acquired a 2,200 m2 factory and with the expansion of an engineering department introduced robotic welding, automated saw cutting and powder paint plant.

During the next ten years two further sites were acquired bringing total manufacturing and office area to 5,600 m2 employing 120 personnel. Mill Road, Leighton Buzzard, our current site, was acquired in 1991 with over 14,000 m2 of manufacturing area on a self-contained 9-acre site; this then gave Pledge Office Chairs the ideal manufacturing facility to expand for future capacity.

Since then the company has expanded by organic growth and acquisition to an impressive £14 million turnover, employing 150 personnel.

Edge Design was conceived in 2003 as a soft seating collection aimed at the mid to high end markets, and to be attractive to A&D communities, this to date has expanded to over 50% of the company’s turnover.

Can you tell us about your manufacturing process?

Pledge are a “true” office seating manufacturer, not merely component assemblers but has the capability to produce in house components, designed, produced and distributed by our own maintained fleet of liveried delivery vehicles.

Pledge boasts in being the only office seating producer in the UK that manufactures “in house” the majority of its components. This claim is supported by a fully equipped metal shop that produces steel frames and internal components. These are all cut, shaped and painted within the company’s 250,000 sq ft manufacturing facility. Until the late 90’s Pledge also produced all its own mechanisms, with export contracts as far as Canada and Australia. A wood working shop produces internal structures for soft seating, the assembly of seat boards and the spraying of wooden chair frames. This allows the company to produce new designs without the restraints of additional component suppliers and the problems associated in terms of compatibility and cost.

Many office seating manufacturers are seen as and effectively are “component assemblers”, with easily identifiable “kit” products that only require upholstery and assembly.

Do you offer bespoke designs?

Due to Pledge’s “true manufacturing” status, bespoke products are never a problem.

Many of Pledge’s ranges start as a couple of components, and as customers ask for additional shapes, sizes and designs these starts to form part of the standard range, and thus produce a range statement that this effective and useful, being totally controlled and lead by customer demand.

What has been Pledge’s most popular product and why do you think that is?

The edge design brand continues to expand and grow, as the need for soft and break out seating seems to be playing a larger and larger part of the office environment. The most popular products by far have been and continue to be “Fifteen” and “Fence”, two booth type products that offer privacy and separation for the busy office environment. These products have been further developed into diner and media applications, with other derivatives planned for the coming months as customer demand requires.

What can we expect to see from Pledge in the next 5 years?

Pledge and the edge design brand have big expansion plans in the next five years! Certainly top of the agenda is a desking system, for 2021 we have launched 2Gether a table system, offering coffee, desk and poser height options, we already offer screen for the desk height version. Over the coming months we plan to expend the range statement. Finishes and sizes etc, with investment in CAD etc.

How important is sustainability to your business?

Very Important!

It is a company objective to produce as much of the product in house ensuring total control of raw materials and waste disposal. This gives us the ability to manufacture product to your specification, design and requirements, and still have total control in the development process, with production not dependent on component deliveries from thousands of miles away.

Pledge operate a procurement policy that assesses suppliers via an environmental questionnaire enabling us to evaluate the ability of suppliers to meet our environmental requirements. Our company has very few non-European suppliers with components being manufactured in house or from UK suppliers where possible. Pledge prides itself in being the only seating manufacturer in the United Kingdom to be a “true” manufacturer, and it’s aim is to constantly increase its self-sufficiency wherever possible. Every seating product has an impact on the environment throughout its lifecycle, from extraction of the raw materials, production to final disposal and recycling.

As a company Pledge Office Chairs Ltd are committed to reducing the environmental impact of all products produced and distributed from their Bedfordshire manufacturing facility with an ultimate goal of contributing towards the creation of a sustainable society for future generations.

Pledge achieved environmental accreditation to ISO 14001:2004 in August 2007.

Our commitment to environmental awareness and preservation is reflected throughout our business.

We are accredited with ISO14001 environmental standard and are members of the Furniture Industry

Sustainability Program (FISP) and are FSC accredited (chain of custody).

Pledge Office Chairs is committed to conducting business in a manner that manages environmental issues responsibly.

We fulfil this commitment by:

  • Complying with environmental regulations
  • Conducting operations in an environmentally sound manner
  • Applying the principles of reduce, reuse and recycle in all processes
  • Promoting environmental responsibility among our employees
  • Striving to ensure that suppliers agree to comply with environmental regulations
  • Pursuing continuous improvement in our environmental performance
  • Clearly communicating Pledge Office Chairs’ environmental policy, practices, and impact to interested parties

Concerning Carbon Neutral Product, the furniture industry seems to be jumping on the Carbon Neutral Product band wagon by launching specific ranges that are sold as carbon neutral or by charging an additional price for the carbon neutral tag.

The way that these companies achieve the carbon neutral element is by offsetting the carbon emissions produced in the manufacture of the product with a calculated donation; this is used to fund projects around the world that will offset the carbon used.

Our investigations have found that it would be easy for us to subscribe to one of these schemes; however, we have decided to adopt a different approach. As a manufacturer, we believe we should ensure that the company produces the smallest carbon footprint possible.

Listed below are a few of the ways we will achieve this:

Ensure that we procure from companies that adopt procedures to reduce carbon emissions Source wooden products from managed supplies (FSC)

Eliminate the use of harmful substances and chemicals

Control deliveries to minimise emissions from vehicles and wasting fuel Ensure that our manufacturing base uses fuel efficiently, we will demonstrate compliance and obtain independent audits to the following:

  • Accreditation to ISO14001 – Environmental management systems
  • FISP – Furniture industry sustainability program
  • FSC – Chain of Custody

It is our opinion that the company can achieve greater reduction in environmental impact in this way and we consider this to be our responsibility.

We also have FSC accreditation backed by a full environmental and recycling policy, this coupled with our “true” manufacture status allows us to tailor make products that both satisfy the customer in terms of design and function as well as meeting the environmental aspirations of any corporate organization.

Pledge operate under strict ISO9001 and ISO 14001 criteria

Products are designed and produced to a high standard of quality which in turn creates a long life span eliminating the need for constant replacement, the less often replacements are needed simply means better management of the earths resources. In the design process consideration is given to:

  • Using sustainable materials
  • Overall environmental impact throughout the products life
  • Recyclability at the end of the products life

Energy consumption is closely monitored and potential areas of saving are identified, recent installations of energy saving equipment demonstrate our desire to improve and reduce our environmental impact. Steps have and are being taken to reduce heat waste including:

  • Ensuring timers are set correctly
  • Ensuring external doors are kept closed when not in use
  • Ensuring Internal secondary doors are kept closed
  • All gas appliances are serviced regularly

Water and central heating boilers were found to be old and inefficient these have been replaced with for more efficient band A rated units. 

Low heat powder for our paint plant enable’s us to run our oven at lower temperatures reducing the amount of gas used.

Steps have and are continuing to be taken to reduce waste including:

  • Ensuring lighting is turned off in unused areas
  • Ensuring machinery is powered off when not in use

With 790 lighting units on site lighting was identified as an area of energy saving. Alternative fluorescent lighting has replaced traditional bulbs and tubes and a potential energy saving of approximately 40% have been demonstrated.

Diesel fuel savings have been achieved by:

  • Eliminating non essential journeys
  • The use of Sat Nav systems and location aids to optimise delivery routes and make sure that fuel is not wasted
  • Routes being planned to ensure full load deliveries
  • Electric Hybrid cars being added to the fleet

Pledge is working towards significantly reducing its waste of raw materials

Pledge has worked with suppliers to reduce packaging and cardboard with the use of re-useable silages and efficient pack quantities.

All cardboard is segregated and shipped for recycling.

By utilising our steel suppliers cutting facilities we have managed to reduce our steel waste by purchasing large volume jobs in pre-cut lengths.

Other recycled materials include:

  • Leather off cuts. Recycled by a third party making patchwork leather bags.
  • Plastic
  • Plastic components sent to be re-ground at RGE Ltd, these items are backfilled onto RGE delivery vehicles
  • Plastic bottles and cups recycled
  • Paper
  • Staff are encouraged to only print documents if necessary and use both sides of copy paper
  • IT
  • Ink Cartridges
  • Mobile phones

Our overall objectives are:

  • The desire to minimise the consumption of natural resources and energy, whilst consuming
  • material goods in moderation
  • Reducing the creation of waste by the adoption of improved operating practices and by the
  • recycling of materials whenever practical
  • Ensuring all waste and effluent is disposed of in a safe and responsible manner
  • Investing in the development of new products and processes that have an improved performance
  • regarding their impact on the environment
  • Commitment from directors, staff, suppliers and customers an understanding of environmental
  • issues in the context of our business.

Remanufacturing Statement

What is remanufacturing? — “A process by which end of life products are reworked to a new like state with a warranty”

Remanufacturing depends on the customer recognising the value of his end-of-life asset, and the manufacturer creating products that are durable. Pledge Office Seating products have always been designed to last the test of time and it is often the cosmetic appearance of the seating that is the driver for replacement.

Why not recycle? — Remanufacturing is different from recycling because it involves preserving most of the whole product. Recycling requires the destruction of the product to its component materials so they can be reprocessed into new forms. This in turn generates additional consumption of energy with

transportation and manufacturing. Remanufacturing saves up to 90% of the original energy input, as can be seen on the following flow:

In general, remanufactured products will be less expensive than new ones, even though they are built to the same quality. Pledge Office Chairs passes on to their clients some of the cost savings made from the recovery of the materials and energy content of the product. Typically, prices are in the range 6080% of new.

Buying remanufactured seating will reduce the energy content of the product, having a real impact on CO2 emissions. These savings can be genuinely and justifiably declared under the government’s forthcoming Carbon Disclosure initiative and in Corporate and Social Responsibility statements.

As a true manufacturer of seating Pledge are ideally placed to offer a workable remanufacturing process to suit all their clients’ requirements. In house facilities include: Steel fabrication, powder. 

Paint application, and wooden frame production, wood staining, upholstery and assembly. 

Contact Pledge through BCFA Product Finder.