Online furniture retailer Industry West, which opened a new, larger headquarters in San Marco in March 2018, is moving again, this time to the historic building at 1001 Kings Ave. on the Southbank.
“This building brought us an opportunity to plant a bigger footprint here and let people know that we are here to stay,” said Industry West co-founder Jordan England.
The 10-year-old company has grown to 42 employees and sales this year of $35 million to $40 million.
Jordan and Anne England started the company as an e-commerce venture, moving from home to leased space and then to San Marco Square.
That’s where they and investor-developer Andy Allen bought a 4,300-square-foot building at 1407 Atlantic Blvd. in 2017, moving in the following year.
Allen, CEO of Jacksonville-based Corner Lot Companies, is involved in the next move, too.
The Englands, Allen and Corner Lot COO George Leone, through ALE Kings Holdings LLC, bought the Kings Avenue property July 6 for $2.25 million.
They anticipate a more than $1 million investment in renovating the three-story, 13,500-square-foot building that was developed before 1912 and hope to move in during summer 2022.
“Jacksonville is ready for more urban development in this part of the city and the core that’s bringing a new design element,” England said.
“It’s a really cool building.”
After renovations, Industry West will occupy the first two floors with showroom, office and creative space.
Breeze Homes, one of the Corner Lot Companies, will occupy the third floor with 12 employees.
There eventually could be a retail coffee shop on the ground floor of the southeast Kings Avenue and Prudential Drive building as the Southbank contines to develop pedestrian traffic.
The Englands and Allen said a startup restaurant-entertainment concept will lease the San Marco Square building upon the move.
Allen said it will consist of their “passion for golf and family.”
It’s all about the space
Jordan England said Industry West outgrew the San Marco Square showroom and workspace soon after it opened.
Industry West’s workforce comprises about 12 people in marketing, HR and leadership in San Marco, with others at a New York City showroom and a leased nearly 125,000-square-foot Cecil Commerce Center distribution center.
The Kings Avenue structure will provide room for 28 people, allowing the company to build-out more of its internal team.
The Englands look forward to “putting our design stamp on it and creating a vibrant workspace environment like this so people can be creative and keep working on what we’re doing here, which is building a furniture brand that’s accessible to consumers and businesses alike,” England said.
Allen said the area is referred to as the Design District because of architects and other creative firms that operate there, “so it is very fitting.”
The e-commerce company describes itself at industrywest.com.
It “curates modern, artisan-crafted furniture and decor, with an emphasis on high-design. Our approach is guided by what we interpret as new classics—beautiful, functional pieces capable of becoming timeless.”
Industry West works with manufacturers worldwide for furniture such as tables, desks, chairs, sofas, barstools and other products and accessories.
It serves restaurants, hotels, high-tech startups and residences throughout North America.
Customers include Google, Uber and Chanel and local clients such as M Shack, Orsay, Taverna and Bold Bean Coffee Roasters.
Industry West’s showroom area allows customers to browse the company’s collection, and trade professionals a location to work with the team on new projects.
At Kings Avenue, Industry West anticipates flexible space that accommodates photography and creative uses for social media content and other purposes.
England said Industry West has outsourced marketing and website work.
“We’re trying to now bring some of those jobs back in-house, so we’re going to hire quite a few marketing and folks in development.” He expects needing six to eight people.
The Jacksonville Historic Preservation Commission approved a Certificate of Appropriateness for the project in June for changes to the at least 109-year-old structure’s exterior.
The building is not in a locally designated historic district but is a local landmark.
Matthew Snyder with Bold Line Design LLC filed the application on behalf of the previous owner, Upchurch-Sutton Inc.
The six changes include storefront facade alterations; new canopies and door openings; a fire escape/roof access replacement; new signage; and a new skylight.
The Jacksonville Planning and Development Department Historic Preservation Section will need to approve final plans before permitting.
Allen said the group intends to open up the interior to provide more natural light.
The landmark status application shows the building was developed before 1912. It is one of the few remaining commercial buildings reflecting the old City of South Jacksonville of 1907-32.
At one point early on, a hardware store and a dry goods store occupied the first floor, with six apartments on the top floors.
It recently housed offices.
The group bought the property from Upchurch-Sutton Inc., which acquired the building in April 1999 for $250,000, property records show.
City Council District 5 representative LeAnna Cumber is encouraged that the project will bring more activity to the Kings Avenue corridor.
“The more activation and life that comes in, the safer the community,” she said.
Allen and the Englands intend to continue their property investments in Jacksonville, ranging from historic redevelopment to new construction.
COVID presented challenges, but the Englands are seeing some business returning.
About 70% of Industry West’s sales historically has been business-to-business, including major hotels and large restaurant groups.
At the start of the pandemic, that business shut down. England said Industry West moved to more direct-to-consumer sales.
That mix now is more 50-50.
Anne England said requests for proposals and qualifications are returning, “and next should be the money.”
Roots and branches
The Englands founded Industry West because the young couple needed some dining chairs and couldn’t find what they wanted at a favorable price.
The couple lived in Beaufort, South Carolina, and began looking for the chairs for their new home.
Jordan England connected with manufacturers and found the chairs they wanted.
They realized that identifying the best furniture for individual and corporate needs could be a business.
They registered England Trading Co. LLC with the state in 2011. They had returned to Jacksonville, where they had lived for a while a few years earlier.
“Industry West” was chosen because it represents the entrepreneurial spirit and the creativity of the people and companies they want to foster.
They started as a home-based business and moved in 2013 to rented space at 1538 Hendricks Ave., next to Hightide Burrito Co.
In February 2017, England Allen Holdings LLC paid $904,000 for the San Marco Square building, which formerly was Stellers Gallery, and renovated it.
England said most of the company’s business has been outside of the region. While it does a good amount in Florida, mostly Orlando and Miami, England said California and New York are major markets.
The Englands and Allen cite reasons for Industry West to remain growing in Jacksonville.
One is JaxPort, which makes importing easier from the international factories that produce the furniture.
While Industry West brings in some shipments through other ports, “we need to use this port as our main port,” Jordan England said.
“The port here is much better to work with.”
Another reason is the opportunity to be part of the Southbank development and redevelopment.
“You have all of this critical mass. It’s synergy and the domino effect,” Allen said.
“It’s important to have local companies be part of that.”
A third reason for Jacksonville is that Allen said the city needs Industry West.
“We need you guys to help make Jacksonville cool,” Allen said to the Englands.
“Your brand, your design, your furniture, everything.”