by Danine Alati
by Danine Alati
If you ask most people about their office chair, it’s likely that few would know the type of chair or the brand or any other details about it. When you think about the fact that many Americans sit at a desk for eight hours-a-day, it’s a missed opportunity that these critical tools of productivity are not branded better to the end user. Anthony Mazlish, founder and CEO of X-Chair, is changing all that. With his unique direct-to-consumer sales model and heavyweight marketing campaign, Mazlish has turned the traditional industry sales model on its head by targeting the end user and working hard to deliver a revolutionary office chair that satisfies consumers’ ergonomic needs in a sleek-looking solution.
You have this important consumer product category with zero branding. Historically, the industry sold to companies who then just gave the chair to the end user, and the end user didn’t have any say
But that’s changing. People are a little more conscious of ergonomics and their health; they are working from home more frequently. There are lots of reasons why people now care about the chair.
One might say that Mazlish has been preparing for the launch of X-Chair, which was released in March 2016, for much of his career. In 1994 he founded HealthyBack Store, a retail outlet that grew to 28 locations in nine states plus Washington, D.C. and sold back-related products including task chairs, recliners, beds, and massage tools; today there are four stores in three states. “At HealthyBack, we sold a variety of office chairs to end users of all kinds. We learned what they needed and wanted in terms of comfort, style and price. This information was invaluable to us when it came to designing X-Chair,” explains Mazlish, who also says that business taught him how difficult and important it is to build a brand.
Mazlish decided to spend a whopping $4 million on advertising X-Chair this year to target the consumer directly. “If you see an ad on TV, you go to x-chair.com and you can either call the sales center to buy the chair that way or just click and purchase,” Mazlish says. “The chair comes in a box with simple instructions, it takes 12 minutes to put together, and it has a 30-day money-back guarantee. We just try to make it as easy as possible for the consumer.”
Thomas Mazur, vice president at Manhasset, New York-based financial services firm Quan-Vest Consultants Inc., discovered X-Chair from a TV commercial and ordered one sample chair. “We appreciated that if we didn’t like it, we could return it within 30 days. So we gave it a shot,” Mazur says. “It was super, super comfortable. It looks good. We liked the style and the mesh look. It’s a home run in our minds.” The sample chair arrived in two business days, and they placed an order for five chairs immediately.
Similarly, Chris Hayes, director of business development, Open Road Brands, the Wichita, Kansas-based maker of high-quality wall art, saw an ad in “The Wall Street Journal” and decided to test out X-Chair. “The direct sales model was very helpful. Having someone understand our growth strategy and lay out a plan that worked with our company was very important,” he says. “We had great customer support throughout the entire process.”
Roxanne Cox, vice president of human resources at Hanover Company, a Houston-based private real estate company that develops and manages multifamily residential properties nationwide, placed an order for 155 X-Chairs in May, after her COO saw an ad on TV. “We must have tested 40 different chairs when he saw the advertisement,” Cox recalls. “X-Chair had all the features that we were looking for, which were lumbar support, flexibility, light weight and ergonomic. We were also very sensitive to its style. We didn’t want the chair to overpower the space or appear too clunky. It has a streamlined design.”
Created with an anthropomorphic shape, X-Chair is intended to mimic a person from its profile. “People don’t automatically notice that. It’s subliminal,” Mazlish says. And its modern lines and mesh construction make X-Chair visually light in scale, an aesthetic that resonates.
Yet Mazlish says that his sole goal at any trade show is to have people actually sit in X-Chair—because he knows they’ll love it. It’s the dynamic variable lumbar support that intuitively adjusts to the user’s motion and makes it such a pleasant sitting experience. Ten other adjustments/features allow users to customize the back, seat, arms and headrest to their liking. A premium mesh and leather suspension system evenly disperses users’ weight; and (coming in July) a memory foam seat option. Additionally, X-Chair features X-Wheel Blade Casters, high-performance wheels that are better at rolling over cords, bumps and high-pile carpet—but are softer and function well on the most delicate tile floors.
With all these bells and whistles, just how complicated is the X-Chair to use? “It’s actually really simple,” Mazlish promises. “There are essentially three levers and one knob. One of those levers is up/down, one is seat slide in/out, and the other is lock-in-place or allow rocking. Then the knob changes your rocking tension. And we have videos on the website, if anybody has questions.”
“Adjustability is very important,” Mazur asserts. “We’re all different people and sizes, and we were able to adjust it for everybody’s comfort—the lumbar support was the most important aspect. We sit for up to seven hours a day, so we need to have a pretty good chair to do that. I think everybody found X-Chair to be far superior to other chairs we’ve been sitting on.”
Named as a play on the definition of X-factor, the X-Chair is “the key variable to making a person’s work experience more enjoyable and productive,” Mazlish asserts. “If you look at the chair from the back, the frame is in the shape of an elongated X,” he adds. X-Chair offers six task chair models, a side chair and a stacker; and X-Project is a budget chair available only to the trade.
A satisfied Hayes has purchased some 30 chairs and says he will continue to order X-Chairs for the support of his Open Road Brands’ employees. “With overall comfort, flexibility and sleek design at a value, X-chair is the full package at the price points we could afford for our business.”