Some of the best modern-day inventions that you know of and use were likely created from an idea that was started on a whiteboard. From the creation of Air Jordan, iPhone, Tesla, and Xbox, to assisting with some of the most critical military operations known to North America, the whiteboard has always acted as the “silent” partner in the development of these world changing ideas.
If you have ever wondered who created the perfect whiteboard that helped shape these ideas, look no further than Egan Visual Inc. The company created the first whiteboard in 1967 and has never looked back since.
Egan Visual Inc. was founded 54 years ago by the late Jim Egan. The Egan story started with Jim pitching an unrelated product to a bank executive. This executive complained to Jim after their meeting that the presentation surface he used daily could not be “hidden” from guests coming into his office. Jim suggested a simple solution that included a closing cabinet to encase the existing surface. After Jim created a prototype, the bank ordered its first 100 Egan whiteboards enclosed in a cabinet. The rest, as they say, is history.
“From 1967 to today, Jim Egan and the Egan brand have sold over $1.5 billion worth of products throughout North America, and Egan remains recognized as the benchmark for quality and service in the industry today,” says Scott Newhouse, President and CEO.
Egan has evolved over the last 50 years, from only offering whiteboard and cabinets to now offering a full suite of visual communication products, including glassboards, lecterns, cabinetry, table dividers, Pro AV furniture, acoustical products and now a line of “COVID-19” related products.
Egan’s growth and innovation has made it the North American leader in quality visual communication products in North America, with the ability to custom design and manufacture to the client’s specific needs. The brand is highly regarded within the architect and designer community as its products easily integrate into existing office designs and other manufacturers’ case goods collections.
Instead of buying and branding prefabricated products, the company designs and manufactures all of its products in-house to guarantee that every item that leaves its facility performs at the level that an Egan product should. Egan’s core products are only made from materials sourced and produced in North America, not from offshore suppliers.
While the market is flooded with look-a-likes, the original Egan whiteboard still stands out head and shoulders above its competitors. In fact, its proprietary EVS whiteboard surface comes with a warranty that surpasses the basic guarantees of its replicas. The technology behind the EVS whiteboard surface is favoured by learning institutions and companies for its low-glare, low-sheen, high projectability, no “ghosting” and highly erasable properties that are further enhanced by its longevity and easy maintenance.
The warranty includes the integrity of the board’s structure, and it is guaranteed to return to its original bright white color when periodically cleaned with a basic isopropyl alcohol cleaner. “We have boards in service for over twenty years made with our EVS surface that are still functioning as if they were brand new,” says Chris Benavides, Vice President of Sales. The company also offers customization and branding options through Egan’s internal design and graphics assistance program, called Egan INK.
The company is a true collaborative partner for its customers when it comes to finding ways to best adapt its products to their space and ensuring that the solution addresses their needs. If a client is looking for custom sizes, branding, or any form of tailoring, Egan’s manufacturing team is ready for the challenge. “We’ve been through this process with most Fortune 500 companies. In one recent case, we literally went from concept to execution on a brand new, AVA compliant multi-media lectern in a matter of months. We are now shipping them around the world,” states Benavides.
Egan is also environmentally conscious. Its products are made from sustainably sourced lumber certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and are also Greenguard Gold Certified. “Our boards do not emit any toxic gases. When using one of our boards, the euphoria you feel is from using the board itself,” states Benavides, with a smile.
Egan is viewed as an aspirational brand and has been used by over 93 percent of Fortune 500 companies. Its custom whiteboards have been a hot commodity since the day the company started manufacturing them. Iconic brands like Apple’s iPhone and other all-time favourite devices were invented on these boards. Today, Nike’s Serena Williams building is kitted out with its boards in collaboration with a company named DIRT. “Literally every new design concept coming out of Nike’s new Florida design center will begin its life on an Egan whiteboard,” says Benavides.
Egan recognizes that due to COVID, the office layout will change as companies reimagine what the office of the future should look like. To achieve this, the company has continued to innovate, for which its brand is famous. It has added to its product offering to ensure that it can provide clients with all the protection and communication tools they need to succeed in a post COVID environment.
Some of the key changes will be to expand the average square footage per staff member, enclose more offices (versus the previous open office trend), and accommodate a hybrid of work from home and work from office scheduling, which will see a need for companies to build a more collaborative office environment. Egan’s products provide options for all scenarios. From low-cost adjustments to open office environments to a full collaborative renovation, Egan has the flexibility to do it all, and with antimicrobial materials.
“We know that during the pandemic, people were hesitant to go to offices. Egan developed a full suite of COVID products to define space and aid in social distancing. This product line includes such things as table dividers, mobiles, and room partitions [for] open office environments, to give employers tools to help their staff stay safe,” says Ahren Cadieux, Chief Growth Officer at Egan.
“Egan products can be cleaned with all of the same cleaning standards recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and we didn’t have to develop any new products to address this. These are proven, tested designs that we’ve had in our portfolio for a decade or more,” says Adam Bortolussi, Chief Operating Officer. Egan products come with a quality and consistency guarantee; this stands in stark contrast to substandard products flooding the market in a rushed response to the virus.
Egan Visual Inc. was purchased by Massey Capital in June 2017 from Jim Egan’s estate. “We see a lot more than just the brand. Egan has been well known in the corporate sector for fifty years. We know there’s a lot more we can do to leverage this brand into different product verticals,” says Newhouse.
Since Massey Capital acquired the company, it has added several other firms to its group. Working Walls supplies acoustic wall panels and Exact Office Furniture, a professional audiovisual furniture collection, offers height-adjustable desks and audiovisual collaboration furniture, complementing the Egan collection.
“At Egan, we do not view ourselves as a traditional manufacturer. Permeated throughout our culture is the mindset that we are a service company that just happens to manufacture a great product. We engage with every customer from concept through to receiving and experiencing their product,” says Bortolussi. This is all part of Egan’s strategic investment to build on what management refers to as the ‘WOW factor’ at each touch point within the customer journey.
Organizations looking to create unique and functional workspaces built to encourage collaboration amongst their workforce should look to Egan as the trusted brand in visual communication displays and that “silent” partner in that next great innovation that could change the world.
Egan Visual is truly Built to Inspire.