Published May 2002

Bank On Us makes
office space work

By John Wolcott
Herald Business Journal Editor

Every business owner recognizes the advantages of buying pre-owned office furniture at half-price or rearranging an office layout to gain new work efficiencies.

But they often hesitate to make those moves because of the hassle-factor. If the task is complicated or too time consuming — particularly for a busy small to medium-size business — they’re liable to put it off, sometimes indefinitely.

It’s “tasks” like that that keep Bob and Lisa Watkins in business. They call their Arlington business Bank On Us, because people quickly learn that they’re more than “office furniture experts,” as they bill themselves, they’re problem solvers.

Operating with the kind of fast-response, we’re-here-for-you attitude and innovative, quality work that make service businesses successful, Bank On Us continues to grow its Lynnwood-to-Bellingham market by providing a range of custom solutions to issues that businesses face daily.

“I have experience in employee staffing; Bob has more than 15 years of experience in office furniture installation. Together, we know a lot about how to plan efficient office layouts; install furniture, panels and other accessories; and even build entire floor-to-ceiling modular offices,” Lisa Watkins said.

Although much of their work is for small to medium-size enterprises, the Watkins also count Boeing, multi-branch banks and a library that needed thousands of shelves installed for its remodeling project among their clients.

They started out providing temporary help for furniture stores for delivering and installing furniture. Then, at a Bible study group one night, they heard someone talking about needing to reconfigure his office building. They got the job, did the work themselves and spun their business in a new direction.

Today they have solid relationships with numerous furniture dealers, liquidation businesses and auction houses, all sources for their clients’ office furniture needs. But customers also have learned to count on them for reconfiguring existing office furniture and cubicles, purchasing new and recycled furniture, project management, internal moves, office relocations and even basic space planning — a complimentary service that can be expanded to detailed space planning for a fee.

Penny Peeters, owner of Penway Printing & Design at the Arlington Airport business park, knows firsthand how Bank On Us works.

“After 15 years of being busy with a growing business, my office was cluttered, and the furniture was arranged so that I couldn’t get to anything easily,” she said. “They gave me a whole new look and more room to meet with customers.”

With recycled storage cabinets, desks and work areas installed, her business now has an open, airy look to it, room to move around and even a new computer keyboard tray that erased Peeters’ shoulder pains, thanks to Lisa Watkins’ understanding of ergonomic office designs.

“There is so much good recycled furniture in the market today, from businesses downsizing or replacing their office furnishings,” Bob Watkins said. “We have the experience to meet clients’ office needs, but without a warehouse and large office ourselves, we keep our overhead down and our prices low. We pride ourselves in meeting our clients’ budgets.”

They also maintain, restructure and upgrade existing business office arrangements. One of the problems they’ve found is that after buying office furniture, it’s hard for businesses to find anyone to repair it, move it into a new configuration or add matching pieces. The Watkins’ broad resources have helped them regularly find the type of furniture or accessories clients want.

“We save people time as well as money,” Lisa Watkins said, “because they’d have to spend staff time doing so much of what we do. There’s a lot more involved than just buying office furniture. You need to know where to get it at a good price, how to arrange it efficiently in your office and how to maintain it or add to it later.”

Some of their present work involves cutting down cubicle panels, making tall ones short as businesses decide they want more visibility and visual communication between work stations that are walled off from one another.

“The furniture world is a small world,” Lisa Watkins said. “There are hundreds of designs, styles and brands, and we have the resources to find nearly anything a business needs, from one chair or desk to setting up several offices. Now businesses don’t have to deal with Seattle firms. Far as we know, we’re the only business like this from King County to Canada.”

For more information about Bank On Us, call 360-403-3117 or visit online at

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