The American Dream
Our story started with a dream in 1932 and continues to evolve.
Only three years into the Great Depression, a young Romanian immigrant started a used furniture business in downtown Baltimore. Despite the economic environment, M. Henry Kuntz took a chance and opened American Office in a small storefront at 7 St. Paul Street selling used wood and steel furniture. The new company filled an obvious need as it did not take long to expand to a new, bigger location. By 1935 Henry made a second move to an even larger facility at 309 North Calvert Street, where the American Office headquarters is currently located.
Customer service was important to Henry and became an early hallmark of American Office. He once personally delivered a box of paper clips via street car to a customer, despite the fact that office supplies were not part of his inventory.
With the leanest years of the depression behind and a solid business foundation established, Henry was able to capitalize on the growing industrial mass production of the late 1930s and early 1940s. As new businesses in Baltimore were established and older ones expanded, American Office was there to meet the demand for quality office furniture.
In the early 1950s, Henry’s son, Ben, joined his father in the family business. Ben learned the business from the ground up, delivering product and showing customers around the warehouse. Ben remains active as the Chairman of the Board.
Things only got better through the '50s as the U.S. and world economies flourished. In 1960 American Office at 309 N. Calvert annexed the adjacent flower wholesaler to house their ever-growing inventory. Later in the year Henry purchased warehouse space in the Little Italy section of Baltimore, and the company’s shipping and receiving functions were transferred to this 30,000-square-foot facility.
By 1964 American Office had become one the most respected firms in Maryland and caught the attention of Herman Miller, Inc., arguably the leader in modern furniture design. That year American Office became the MillerKnoll Certified Partner for the Baltimore and Maryland region. The timing was perfect as four years later Herman Miller introduced the Action Office System, the world’s first open-plan modular panel and component system which would revolutionize office design and the office furniture industry.
In the mid-to-late ‘70s, Herman Miller’s innovation continued with the creation of the industry’s first quick-ship program, and the opening of the Facility Management Institute. American Office also expanded into the '80s, opening a location in Rockville, Maryland and one in Chantilly, Virginia. In 1999 they opened their Washington, DC sales office. In 2001, they acquired TCB Installations to form an installation and distribution center in Virginia. By 2009, with three additional Virginia offices in Charlottesville, Richmond, and Virginia Beach, American Office became the only Mid-Atlantic MillerKnoll Certified Partner and one of the largest Herman Miller dealers in the world.
M. Henry Kuntz’s grandsons now own American Office and primarily work out of the same Baltimore office opened in 1935. With over 200 professionals on board, American Office continues to fine-tune its processes to ensure the customer service philosophy of Henry Kuntz remains an anchor for the organization. Long-term partnerships with clients and extraordinary service from design through maintenance are the basis of the business and the key to success.