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April Surprise at MillerKnoll Made This Salesperson Happy!

Dear Stephen,

I now work for MillerKnoll (I guess you’d call me a former, or "ex," Knoll employee?) I’m in a major market and I've made big bucks for some years now. I'm hoping it continues. Some of our regional managers have left or lost their jobs, but there’s a lot less turnover here than the hype people read and talk about. In fact, I would say many people chose to leave for fear of the unknown - which is different from “losing” your job.

I have been on pins and needles because this month (April 2022) we're all getting our new MillerKnoll compensation program and some of us got new assignments, accounts or territories. Those of us from the Knoll side of the “MillerKnoll” side of the family have sometimes felt like the unwanted stepchild. Rumor has it here in the “family,” that my Knoll compensation was higher than what my Herman Miller counterpart may have received. All of this is conjecture and guesswork because we really know nothing for sure.

Well, this week I got my new compensation plan and to me it looks great. No big surprises. Fair, and better than the scuttlebutt being spread by the industry gossip mongers. I expect that what I can now earn is not much different than if I had accepted a new sales job at one of the other two options I had, meaning Steelcase or Haworth. Let’s face it: I believe Knoll sales rep’s have a reputation of being the gold standard within the A&D community.

But not everyone is thrilled. I did have one senior colleague I work with whose income will be affected. But that's because they had the lion’s share of the big accounts here, and of course we have to divide stuff now with our Herman Miller colleagues. We are part of the big MillerKnoll family now! I am happy with the new arrangement, yet no one seems happy for me and some coworkers are still whining and complaining. I want to move forward with my new job, I also want to get to know and become friends and partners with my new colleagues from Herman Miller and move forward in my career at MillerKnoll. What do I say to the naysayers still around me or to the bitter XKE’s always calling us for gossip?


From Orange to Black & White


Dear B&W,

I like your attitude!

First of all, I guess I should provide cursory terminology for our reading audience: XKE is a famous Knoll term for “Ex Knoll Employee”; Knoll Orange equals the color of the former Knoll logo inspired by Florence Knoll 70 years ago; B & W: a reference to the new MillerKnoll logo design.

Now that that's out of the way. Yes! I received many letters over the past couple of months and I suggested to people that they wait out this big “April Surprise” on the new MillerKnoll compensation. I know as a recruiter that the Knoll incentive part of the Knoll compensation plan was always heavy for those Knoll employees that were able to keep major accounts. Now those same people have to split-up design firms, end-user and dealer accounts with Herman Miller, the other major design focused player, and that means something has to give when it comes to the money. I know a lot of Knoll managers bolted too soon - they should have waited to hear what was going to happen - and yes, some salespeople were given packages to leave. In my opinion you did the right thing to stay put.

Your assessment of furniture industry pay at a manufacturer is right; it is always about the same. It's more about the products you sell, the dealers you work with, and the importance of design to you; and corporate culture. If you want to make a lot more money go to work at a dealer, or open an independent rep group.

And if you want to be really rich, leave the industry and go into Fintech or Crypto! Note that Elon Musk does not own a furniture company.

The answer to your question is stay away from the complainers and the gossips who are unhappy. Make new friends and colleagues and relax and enjoy your job! You now work for one of the premier brands globally and one of the largest publicly traded furniture brands in the world. Your future is bright. 

People who are not happy for you or not happy with their new jobs at MillerKnoll should leave. They are either jealous or bitter and are just downers. Negative energy has no place there. Don’t worry you will still see your former colleagues. Chances are they will end up accepting a job at Haworth or Steelcase and they’ll be walking the halls at Neocon!

Sincerely yours,