Business

Next generation takes over a longtime downtown business that recently moved

Blackburn Office Furnishing & Design moves to Hannegan Square

In early April 2019 Blackburn Office Furnishing & Design, which had been located downtown since 1945, moved to the Hannegan Square retail center in Bellingham, Wash.
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In early April 2019 Blackburn Office Furnishing & Design, which had been located downtown since 1945, moved to the Hannegan Square retail center in Bellingham, Wash.

Blackburn Office Furnishing and Design has passed to a new generation and, earlier this month, moved from its longtime spot in downtown Bellingham to 4071 Hannegan Road, in the Hannegan Square retail center.

Longtime owner Randy Grunhurd decided to retire and sold the business to his son, Shane Grunhurd. Shane plans on continuing the business focus of selling furniture such as chairs and desks while also helping businesses design good office space.

Office design has changed significantly in recent years, with products like sit/stand desks becoming more popular. That led to the company to bolster its design services about two years ago.

“It (the sit/stand desks) was a tough sell for a long time,” Randy Grunhurd, noting that expense was an issue. “But now it is getting popular. The health of an employee is much more of a priority to businesses.”

Blackburn Office has seen quite a few changes in the market since it was founded in 1945. The business was started by Chet and Hubert Blackburn, focusing on office machine equipment. Marv Grunhurd purchased the business in 1962, operating it for 30 years. Randy Grunhurd and business partner James Olson purchased it in 1992 and ran the business together until Olson died in 2010.

The business had been at 203 W. Chestnut St., overlooking the waterfront, since 1977. With Randy’s retirement the building was sold to Natural Systems Design earlier this month. The environmental engineering firm will spend six months remodeling the building before employees from Bellingham and Seattle move into the space.

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Last week Grunhurd family members and longtime sales executive Tom Allen met at the new Hannegan Road location for a bit of reminiscing about the business through the years. What started as typewriting machines and copiers have come and gone, but the idea of furnishing an office space that creates efficient employees has remained, Allen said.

Debby Van Leeuwen, Shane’s aunt, said they learned a lot from their dad Marv Grunhurd about business and how to treat people.

“He (Marv) took everything in stride; he was a true gentleman in every sense of the word,” Van Leeuwen said, adding that it contributed to Blackburn Office’s success over the years.

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Dave Gallagher has covered the Whatcom County business community since 1998. Retail, real estate, jobs and port redevelopment are among the topics he covers.
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