GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A man who served as a longtime leader for one of the largest West Michigan-based companies died Wednesday at the age of 91.
Frank H. Merlotti Sr. served as Steelcase’s President and CEO from 1988 to 1990 after serving in other company leadership roles since 1964, the company’s website says. He died Wednesday, company officials confirmed.
Steelcase is the world’s largest office furniture company. It was founded in 1912 and began manufacturing metal furniture in Grand Rapids at a time when the city was most known for its production of wood furniture.
Merlotti helped steer the company during a time of tremendous growth.
“He was a very soft spoken, intelligent, responsible officer,” said Jack Stegmeier, 92, who served as vice president under Merlotti’s leadership. “When he presided as president of Steelcase, it was a very well-managed company and he was instrumental in causing it to be a very successful company.”
Stegmeier said he was friends with Merlotti outside of the office and stayed in touch with him following retirement.
“He was a very nice person and well revered by all in the company and outside the company,” Stegmeier said.
The current CEO of Steelcase, Jim Keane, sent released statement Thursday:
“Looking back, it’s easy to see the significant impact Frank had on our company. He understood we succeed through building relationships and keeping commitments and had a huge impact on our culture, the development of our dealer network and commitment to manufacturing excellence.”
Details about a memorial service for Merlotti had not been announced Thursday.