WOMAN-OWNED + WOMEN-LED
In honor of Women’s History Month, MillerKnoll shared Sheridan Group’s story as a Women Business Enterprise (WBE). Dannine Sheridan (President + Owner) and Terri Bianco (Senior Vice President) told their inspirational story of building a powerful partnership and strong company with MillerKnoll.
Read on to learn about Sheridan Group’s beginning and how we’re looking to the future.
Q: Can you tell us a little about the path you took to become owners of the Sheridan Group?
DS: I graduated from University of Southern California with a degree in fine arts and began my career in project management and sales at a furniture dealership. I was working against the status quo in a male-dominated industry, and when I became pregnant with my first child, my male superiors at the firm decided to adjust the role so I wouldn’t be in front of clients. The firm’s lack of flexibility for working mothers and their effort to shield me from clientele fueled my idea to start my own furniture dealership.
After my child was born, I partnered with Terri Bianco and one of the largest design firms in Los Angeles to start a furniture dealership that became Sheridan Group in 1984. Once we joined forces, we positioned ourselves differently than any other furniture dealership in the industry. We built the foundation of Sheridan Group as a family-first business with an emphasis on service excellence instead of salesmanship, a value system that remains true to our business operations today.
Q: What is your company’s history/relationship with MillerKnoll or our brands?
DS: Sheridan Group has had a working relationship with MillerKnoll brands since the beginning. During a time when furniture dealerships weren’t aligned with specific manufacturers, Sheridan Group procured both legacy brands, Herman Miller, Inc., and Knoll, as clients.
As the industry evolved, furniture dealerships were eventually faced with having to align with a specific manufacturer, and although I had positive experiences working with both Herman Miller, Inc., and Knoll, I ultimately decided that Sheridan Group would become a legacy Herman Miller dealer. It’s so exciting that we can now partner with both iconic brands again under the banner of MillerKnoll.
Q: How have your personal and professional experiences shaped your role today in leading a company? Is there anyone who has helped shape or guide your career?
DS: We began our careers in a male dominated industry that put work first instead of family and it motivated us to do things differently. When we launched Sheridan Group, we made a conscious decision to lead the company with a family-first attitude. As working mothers that understood the importance of showing up for our children, this was a matter that was near and dear to our hearts.
Sheridan Group operates as a family-first company today just as much as it did then. I want working parents to have flexibility in their schedules so they’re able to show up for their children’s school performances, sporting events, doctor’s appointments. Etc.
Q: Given that MillerKnoll requests dealers and suppliers to also promote diversity and inclusion, how do you promote inclusion and diversity within your dealership at the Sheridan Group?
TB: Diversity, equity, and inclusion isn’t a trend that Sheridan Group hopped on board with. It’s been a part of our DNA since the very beginning. We see people as people, regardless of their age, gender, ethnicity, religion, disability, sexual orientation, education, or national origin. Diversity, equity, and inclusion isn’t viewed as a box the company needs to check because it’s always been at the forefront of the way we operate.
We encourage individuality by fostering an environment where people can thrive as their authentic selves. One of the ways Sheridan Group encourages individuality is through togetherness. How can you thrive if you’re never given an opportunity to get away from your desk and show your authentic self to your coworkers? That’s why Sheridan Group hosts monthly events for teammates to step outside of the office and bond on a personal level. In February, we visited the California African American Museum in honor and celebration of Black History Month. In the future, monthly events will include volunteer opportunities for nonprofit organizations, a beach cleanup, nature walk and visits to art and cultural centers around Los Angeles. We care about our people and want to see them thrive in the workplace and the greater community.
Q: Why is it important for you to work with businesses like MillerKnoll who value diverse-owned companies within its ecosystem? How does it support the broader community and other underrepresented communities in development, economic empowerment?
DS: Sheridan Group is a diverse community of 82 people. Currently the company is made up of 61% women and 39% men; of which 48% are White, 38% are Hispanic, 8% are Asian and 6% are Black. Among these employees, the LGBTQ+ and Veteran communities are also represented. Sheridan Group is grateful to employ such a diverse group of people and drive economic empowerment amongst underrepresented communities.
We also find it incredible to work with a company like MillerKnoll who values minority-owned companies within its ecosystem. MillerKnoll’s support empowers Sheridan Group to foster the economic growth of diverse development.
View the original MillerKnoll News article here.