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Founding families Steelcase make first public offering

Shares net $340 million

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

GRAND RAPIDS, Michigan - Officials of office furniture giant Steelcase could not have chosen a better time to take an initial public offering of stock to the New York Stock Exchange. The price increased 20 per cent the first day and kept rising on a wave of optimism that has boosted share values to record highs. Eighteen Steelcase share-holders took about ten per cent of their holdings public. The Wege trusts and foundation, the Hunting trusts and W.W. Idema trust raised $340 million most of which will be donated to charities.

Until recently, Steelcase was privately held by the families of the company's founders. News of the initial stock offering had investors oversubscribe the 12,5 million available shares which were distributed among broker offices across the country.

Steelcase with a global workforce of 18,500 registered sales of $2.4 billion in 1997. Founded in 1912 as the Metal Office Furniture Company, Steelcase is the largest of the three Western Michigan furniture makers. The other two are Miller and Haworth, which are both based in the nearby Holland - Zeeland area.