Innovating in Rural Manitoba: Accent Environments’ Success Story 

Innovating in Rural Manitoba: Accent Environments’ Success Story 

Moving to rural Manitoba not only transformed our operations but also revealed the hidden potential of running a thriving business beyond city limits.” – Dave Henry, President of Accent Environments

Q: Can you tell us what Accent Environments is all about? 

 
**A: Creating an environment tailored to both an organization’s needs, and an individual employee’s or student’s needs is what Accent Environments is all about. We started out selling furniture to educational institutions and have since expanded into a few other markets. 

Q: When and how did Accent Environments begin? 

 
**A: Accent Environments started back in 1986 in Winnipeg. We were primarily selling furniture to the education market, which mainly consisted of schools, colleges, and universities. Initially, it was just my brother-in-law and me, along with a couple of support staff. We now have a great team of over 20 employees. 

Q: What markets do you currently serve? 

 
**A: After thirty-five-plus years in business, the education market still accounts for over half of our revenue. However, as the business has grown, we’ve expanded into the corporate, healthcare, and hospitality markets as well. Those three areas make up the other 50 percent of the business. 

Q: What sets Accent Environments apart from the competition? 

 
**A: We focus on creating an overall environment rather than just selling furniture. We take the time to understand our clients’ needs, desired outcomes, and expectations. Our expertise lies in combining a wealth of product and environmental knowledge with access to numerous manufacturers, resulting in solutions that fit every need and budget. 

Q: How do you ensure the environments you create are tailored to different needs? 

 
**A: By evaluating the tasks conducted in the workplace and considering the personalities of the people undertaking these tasks, we create productive atmospheres where people enjoy attending, whether for work or learning. We tailor these environments to accommodate high-energy workers, collaborative individuals, and introverted people. 

Q: Tell us about your own line of soft seating 

 
**A: We partnered with a manufacturer in Winnipeg to create our own line of soft seating, initially designed for the educational market. This unique concept has gained interest from places like airports and dental offices, where there’s a need for a variety of seating sizes for both children and adults. 

Q: What recent developments have there been with Flexxform Designs? 

 
**A: We bought out the manufacturing company in October of last year, which employs another 12 to 15 employees. This move allows us to offer our unique products to other dealers across North America, with the potential to become one of the most successful companies in this sector based in Canada. 

Q: What prompted the move from Winnipeg to Stonewall? 

 
**A: We had outgrown our space in Winnipeg and the move became personal as I had moved to Stonewall in 2003. Many of our staff lived in the northwest corner of Winnipeg or the Stonewall area. The land in Stonewall was ideal for purchase, and in 2008, we built our new offices there, followed by a warehouse three years later. 

Q: How has relocating to a rural setting benefitted your company? 

 
**A: Operating in Stonewall has attracted excellent staff who value the quality of life and atmosphere of a rural setting. The perceived disadvantages, like freight logistics, were non-existent. We’ve found that our rural location fits our company model and has been beneficial for recruitment and overall operations. 

Q: What is your perspective on operating a business in rural Manitoba? 

 
**A: The risk of opening up a business in rural Manitoba is often overblown. Many successful industries in the United States operate in rural areas. I encourage people to embrace the advantages of operating in rural Manitoba, as the benefits far outweigh the risks. 

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