In the early 1800’s, German immigrants, skilled in the art of woodworking, settled in Jasper, Indiana amid the tremendous wealth of native white oak, walnut and other hardwoods that covered the surrounding hills. But it wasn’t until the early stages of the Industrial Revolution and the pressing through of the railroad in 1879 from eastern markets to the West that settlers began to see the potential of their natural wood resources combined with their own skills at woodworking and cabinetmaking to produce office furniture. Over the next 50 years, no less than eleven office furniture manufacturers began operations, pulling from the wealth of abundant natural resources and accumulated talent. This set the stage for Jasper to become known as the “Nation’s Wood Furniture Capital.”
On 04 February 1929, seven prominent Jasper businessmen gathered to form Jasper Seating Company, creating a new company dedicated to building school chairs, office chairs and office furniture. The first line of chairs to be produced was named the 400 Line and was designed to “meet the demand for an economical, substantially built chair.” The chair that launched the company was a huge success and the original 400 Line is still available today as the Americana Series.
Through the years Jasper Seating Company continued to invest in manufacturing technology to supply a growing country with an expanded offering of quality wood chairs. The company prospered through the Great Depression, two World Wars, competition from a metal office furniture industry and countless consumer challenges by adapting to the marketplace and adhering to its founding principle of using its greatest resources - people, products and service - to the best advantage.
Towards the end of the 20th century, Jasper Seating Company was strategically positioned to expand its offerings and did so by entering into the casegoods and hospitality markets. At this time the company also decided to differentiate between its institutional products and its office products. The institutional offering was to be marketed under the Community brand name. Jasper Seating Company became JSI and continued to market contract seating and casegoods. Klem joined the corporation, rounding out the hospitality segment. There are now three distinct brands serving corporate, education, government, health care and hospitality environments.