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Emerging: VARIDESK


Dan Flaherty
Jason McCann
Coppell, TX
Founded: 2013

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A standing ovation

VARIDESK is leading the active office revolution.

Since founding VARIDESK four years ago, Dan Flaherty and Jason McCann have set new standards for doing business in the office furniture category by putting consumers first, cutting out the middleman, selling directly to customers, and introducing an “everyday value” model to an industry that has been built on list prices and discounts.

Their partnership formed more than 20 years ago, when Flaherty, a serial entrepreneur, hired McCann to help lead Gemmy Industries, which is responsible for some of the most iconic products in the novelty and holiday decor sector such as Big Mouth Billy Bass, Airblown Inflatables and LED holiday lighting.

Flaherty is the idea guy, while McCann takes the ideas and develops the business plan. McCann’s operational and marketing expertise, determination and readiness helped create a company and a mindset that encourages lifelong fans, not one time customers.

With VARIDESK, the idea was born from a real physical need. When Flaherty was diagnosed with sciatic nerve pain, a physical therapist told him to use a standing desk to relieve his discomfort. After weeks of trial and error looking for a desk that would be comfortable for him, Flaherty did what any entrepreneur would do: he built his own product. He met with an industrial designer and sketched out what would become the Pro 36 model of VARIDESK.

VARIDESK made itself known in the marketplace by launching a website and selling directly to customers, bucking the notion that the only way into the office furniture business was through dealers. Compared to other players in a largely competitive industry, Flaherty and McCann did something truly innovative — they asked, “What is right for the customer?”

By listening to customers and responding to their feedback, Flaherty and McCann knew that creating a collaborative environment and fostering relationships with them was the better way. This type of transparency has been one of the keys to growth as a company.

Starting with just a height-adjustable standing desk solution, the company now offers multiple versions of the desk, in addition to conference room furniture, seating solutions, lighting and movable walls to accommodate the ever changing office environment.

Despite the challenges of breaking into a traditional trade, VARIDESK has a globally recognized office furniture company with products in more than 130 countries.

Flaherty and McCann operate on what they call four core tenets of operational success: quality, quality, quality and quality. In a competitive product category like office furniture, the pair took an outsider’s approach. They knew the current industry model was outdated and ripe for disruption. And what started out as a single product to solve one man’s back pain turned into a movement to re-energize a stagnant industry.

Together, Flaherty and McCann have built a culture of listening and learning, which pushes VARIDESK employees to find the most innovative solutions by taking calculated risks and encourages them to question the status quo.

The company’s headquarters in Coppell, Texas, is the model for the active office revolution, allowing customers to test new products before purchasing. Under the pair’s guidance, VARIDESK has built a flexible and collaborative workspace where their employees are able to move an entire office space in a matter of hours. The company continually reconfigures its space every few weeks with the goal of no one being offline for more than 30 minutes.

As part of its future plans, the company is expanding into the space planning sector as more customers want the VARIDESK headquarters look and feel for their own spaces.

The company is constantly seeking and developing future leaders who have the right mix of intellectual curiosity, passion and cultural fit. In fact, Flaherty and McCann brought in outside consultants to help develop their young leaders, pairing them with more senior leadership as accountability partners. These duos meet on a monthly basis to continue to challenge each other and grow. This culture pushes team members to perform their best and drive innovation.

Flaherty and McCann strongly believe in giving back with both their time and money. Team members participate in many initiatives throughout the calendar year, such as TangoTab, a program to feed the less fortunate; Toys for Tots during the holidays; and an annual backpack drive before the new school year. In addition, VARIDESK has given thousands of desks to charitable organizations including Doctors Without Borders and the National Heart Foundation of Australia.

Finalists (Emerging)

Scott Tannen
Founder and CEO
Boll & Branch LLC
Summit, NJ
Founded: 2014

Philip Krim
Co-founder and CEO
New York, NY
Founded: 2014

Mike Brown
Death Wish Coffee
Round Lake, NY
Founded: 2012