I have visited a lot of CE manufacturers over the years, hundreds probably. It’s very rare indeed when I leave one of those visits thinking to myself, “What a cool company to work for.” But that is exactly the impression I had after spending a few hours at Nexus 21 TV Lift Systems, Scottsdale, Ariz.-based manufacturers of motorized lifts.
My visit just happened to coincide with Nexus 21’s regular Friday afternoon “Happy Hour” tradition in which every member of the company gathers around an exquisite wet bar in the main lobby to swap stories of the week in business, share advice, and, of course, nosh on goodies and imbibe a few drinks.
The camaraderie and team-building atmosphere were palpable as all 19 Nexus 21 employees convened to munch on homemade cupcakes brought in by one of the staff, ordered drinks from an impromptu designed bartender, and talked shop from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. It is clearly an “uplifting” experience (pun intended).
“This Happy Hour has become a company tradition. It lets us blow off the steam from the week,” remarks president Cory Lovett.
And it must be working.
The 11-year-old company owns its 13,500-square-foot headquarters and currently leases out a portion of the space, but business has been so strong that Nexus 21 is getting ready to expand by another 40 percent. Right now, Nexus 21 earns about 80 percent of its revenues from various professional channels, including architects, interior designers, cabinetmakers, builders and, of course, the custom installation channel, which currently accounts for about 30 percent of sales (growing to 50 percent in 2016, Lovett expects). About 20 percent of sales come from direct-to-consumer buys. Currently the company offers 23 different product SKUs, including its new Speakeasy Poker Table with a telescoping lift hidden in the table.
“The 'Nexus' part of the company name comes from the intersection of Form and Function and the '21' comes from the 21st Century,” says Lovett.
When you walk past the offices (and the wet bar), you encounter the design area that includes a full kitchen setup where the engineers can test out new features. Nexus 21 is built on its telescoping lift technology that allows for safer, faster, quieter and smoother movement compared to rack-and-pinion devices. The units are also plug and play, meaning they don’t need to be hardwired but can simply plug into a standard 110V outlet. Lastly, the units are modular so an integrator merely needs to order an additional column to make a lift extend farther vs. replacing the entire unit.
Of course, the coolest technology in the world means nothing without support behind it. Nexus 21’s tech support team (actually, it’s one guy name Tyler with years of experience installing systems) fields calls from integrators and consumers.
But how often does a lift break? Not very often at all. That’s why the company recently felt OK doubling its warranty to a full 10 years.