Nemschoff Makes Furniture for Health Care Facilities

Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:37 pm

Almost everyone has used furniture made by Nemschoff Inc, but few know the Sheboygan brand.  Nemschoff makes furniture exclusively for the health care industry. Its chairs, beds, cabinets, tables and other furniture are used in hospital lobbies, waiting areas, patient rooms, doctor’s offices and other areas where patients are receiving health care treatments.

By examining where health care trends are headed and meeting with health care officials, the company has created new products designed for patient safety, comfort and the unique physical demands the health care industry can put on furniture.

"Most of our competitors that make furniture make it for various markets, and some sell into the health care market," said Mark Nemschoff, president and chief executive officer. "Our sole focus is health care and acute care. We try to look at it seriously, do our research and development and do what’s right to care for that market." Nemschoff Inc. makes therapeutic seating chairs designed for patients receiving kidney dialysis, cancer treatments, gastric bypass surgery or other medical procedures for which they might have to sit or recline for long periods of time.  The company also manufactures specialized furniture for patients undergoing bariatric surgery. Because of the increasing numbers of obese patients seeking medical treatments, including surgery, there was a need for specialized furniture, Nemschoff said.

"It started as building things a little bigger and stronger," he said. "Gastric bypass surgery is a big market, and clinics are cropping up all over." The company now offers a family of products for the bariatric market, including chairs for waiting rooms, patient chairs for doctor’s offices, lounge chairs for patient lounges and reclining chairs where patients can get medical treatments. "The posturing of a person has to be different – you have to change the shape (of the chair)," Nemschoff said. "We recognize that people will sit differently."

In recent years, some health care areas in hospitals, such as maternity wards, have been designed to look more like a comfortable residence. To meet that need, Nemschoff Inc. makes a series of cabinets that contain medical supplies, medical instruments and monitors, and are designed to look more like typical household furniture, providing a more pleasant environment for the patient. "The rooms in many facilities are designed be very home-like," Nemschoff said. "When it’s time for the baby to come, the room transforms. Afterwards, it can be put back to home-like." The company thinks of hospital rooms having three zones, said Amy Nemschoff Hellmann, vice president, brand experience.

"There’s the care area, the patient’s area and the family’s area," she said. "Our products are in the second two areas. We make headboards, cabinets, chairs and recliners."

Nemschoff Inc. also makes a series of furniture, named SleepOver, which can be transformed into beds for visiting family members. "We were one of the leaders in creating that market of dual-purpose furniture," Nemschoff said. "The word SleepOver is a Nemschoff trademark. Others in our industry are now saying they also have SleepOver products. It’s kind of the ultimate when your competitors are using your own product to try to sell against you." The company’s design team, which helps develop and refine new products, has a wide variety of consultants, Nemschoff said, including physicians, retired nurses and physical therapists, as well as interior designers. The resulting products not only function well in the health care environments, but also meet design criteria for newly built and redesigned hospitals.

"We’re prolific in product development," Nemschoff said. "Part of it is that we’re close to our customers, and we do a lot of custom products. At the same time, we try to do things that we feel are appropriate for the market. We introduce new product to the market two or three times per year." By having a design team with health care professionals and regular on-site visits with customers, the company is able to bring new products to market faster than its competition, Nemschoff said.  "We’re doing real world R&D (research and development)," he said. "Our products develop faster, and we bring them to market faster than our competition. Our customers have real world problems today."

Nemschoff Inc. started in Sheboygan in April 1950, during a time when the city was called "The Chair City of the North" because so many furniture manufacturers were located there, Nemschoff said. With another wave of new hospital construction, the company expects to be busy. "Hospitals are pretty sound for the next five to 10 years," Nemschoff said. "The projections are so astronomical. That’s what so many people are running health care companies now." The company isn’t making much furniture for long-term care facilities (nursing homes), but that will be changing in the next five years, Nemschoff said, because of the growth potential in that market. Even when hospital construction slows, company officials believe there will be plenty of work for the company.

"When we get over our hump in the building boom, there’s always remodeling or refurnishing," Nemschoff said. "Our furniture tends to last longer. It typically gets replaced in three to five years on the short end and 10 to 12 years on the long end." Nemschoff Inc. now has about 600 employees in its three manufacturing facilities and corporate headquarters. The company has averaged 15 to 20 percent annual growth in the past four or five years, and had about 17 percent growth in 2005. Nemschoff declined to disclose the company’s revenues.

Most of its manufacturing is done in Sheboygan in a 250,000-square-foot furniture-making plant and a 90,000-square-foot plant that makes cabinets and other case goods. Nemschoff also has a seating factory in Sioux Center, Iowa, where it employs about 110. "We’re at a crossroads with service and process improvements in all of our plants," he said. "When you’re growing fast, you tend to throw people at problems. When you grow into it, you can get a little more efficient. That’s where we are now. We’re getting better and more efficient."

Nemschoff Inc.

Headquarters: 909 N. 8th St., Sheboygan
Founded: 1950
Products: Furniture for the health care industry
Growth: 17 percent for 2005; average growth of 15 to 20 percent for last four years
Employees: 600
Web site:

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