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Custom Surroundings, Valley City, OH, wins NASFM award.

Press Release Summary:

Annual Above & Beyond Award recognizes NASFM member fixture suppliers who deliver exceptional service to their customers and exceed expectations. Jim Harte of Stride Rite met with Chris Scherry of Custom Surroundings, a manufacturer of store fixtures, to discuss visual concept for children's apparel in 60 stores. Scherry did research to redesign fixtures in order to match the décor of all store types due to variations in size and layout. The job was completed in 6 weeks.

Original Press Release:

Custom Surroundings Receives 2nd Annual NASFM Above & Beyond Award for Stride Rite Store Fixture Project

Hollywood, Fla. (March 8, 2007)-NASFM's annual Above & Beyond Award recognizes NASFM member fixture suppliers who deliver exceptional service to their customers, exceeding expectations and, in some cases, making the impossible possible. From the first rough sketches of a new job until the last fixture is safely installed in the store, the companies that receive this award accomplish manufacturing feats through commitment, determination, and above-and-beyond customer service. Jim Harte at Stride Rite nominated Valley City, Ohio-based Custom Surroundings for this year's award.

Harte, director of store design and construction for Stride Rite, a children's footwear retailer, was approached by his merchandising department to design a new visual concept for children's apparel in 60 Stride Rite stores across the country. "It was a completely new direction for Stride Rite," says Harte, "and we had to figure out how to make it happen in only six weeks."

Chris Scherry, president of Custom Surroundings and long-time fixture manufacturer for Stride Rite, immediately flew to the company's headquarters in Boston to discuss fixture possibilities with Harte and Stride Rite's visual department. Founded in 1986 by Scherry, Custom Surroundings manufactures a diverse array of fixtures, including cashwraps, wood and laminate fixtures, display tables, slatwall merchandisers, wine cabinets, and wall systems.

The Boston meeting was just the beginning of Custom Surrounding's above-and-beyond service. With only four weeks until the shipping deadline, Custom Surroundings met a series of design changes and challenges head on. "The merchandisers and I were making a lot of requests. All of it funneled down to Chris, and he kept dealing with it," says Harte.

Quick changes
Along with reworking the fixtures from fixed shelving to slatwall, Harte's team made additional changes in details and colors. During the manufacturing process, Harte and Scherry discovered that the chosen fixture color, stained maple, wouldn't match the decor in two Stride Rite store types. So Scherry researched other available color options, matching them with the different Stride Rite store designs.

Two days before the scheduled ship date, Harte asked that the maple trim detail on the top side of the fixtures be changed to white. The fixtures were already complete at that point. With trucks on Custom Surroundings' loading dock, an assembly team worked through the next two days, painting all 60 fixtures and loading them onto their assigned trucks. "When you get a challenge like this and meet it on exactly the date it was requested, it's really nice," says Harte. "Custom Surroundings didn't miss a beat. All of the fixtures were exactly where they needed to be."

Custom Surroundings' commitment to the project didn't end at the loading dock. Scherry personally delivered and installed the fixtures in two local, Cleveland-area Stride Rite stores. Due to variations in store size and layout, Scherry discovered that certain stores would require carpentry work in order to accommodate the fixtures. Scherry alerted Stride Rite of this and other possible installation issues the company might face across the country, which made for a smooth, timely rollout in the company's other stores.

"The fixtures integrated into the stores beautifully," says Harte. Custom Surrounding's well-received fixtures reflected the company's solid understanding of Stride Rite's retail identity. "I'm sure they have other customers, but they make us feel like we're their only client," says Harte.

A history of service
From the beginning of their more than 15-year working relationship, Custom Surroundings has gone above and beyond for Stride Rite. In addition to the children's apparel project, Custom Surroundings last year helped reopen three Stride Rite stores that were devastated by Hurricane Katrina. Opening again for business only three months after the storm hit, Stride Rite was among a very small number of open retail spaces in Gulfport, Mississippi.

In nominating Custom Surroundings for the award, Harte concludes, "Custom Surroundings is one of those companies that come in and do a great job all of the time. The Above & Beyond Award perfectly fits Custom Surroundings and Chris Scherry."

Entries Accepted for 2008
Retail customers are encouraged to nominate vendors that have gone "above and beyond" on a store fixture project. To be eligible, the vendor must be a NASFM store fixture member. Contact Karen Doodeman at 954-241-4833, or see for more information and nomination forms.

Deadline for consideration for the 2008 awards is Dec. 14.

Founded in 1956 and based in Hollywood, Fla., NASFM has stood for quality and professionalism for more than 50 years. NASFM members are proven industry leaders-companies that are well known for excellent craftsmanship, topflight service, and cutting-edge innovation. Member companies offer a full range of products and services for retail environments, and include store fixture suppliers, retail design firms, suppliers of visual presentations products, and suppliers of materials and equipment for the retail environments industry. Member capabilities extend beyond fixture manufacturing to include importing, exporting, consolidating, installing, project management, engineering, design, and more. More information about NASFM and its members is available by calling 954-893-7300 or visiting

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