Industrialist of the year: knock on wood.

Author:Johnson, J. Douglas
Position:Kimball International Inc. President Douglas A. Habig - Cover Story

Known for wood products and pianos, Kimball International is more. It's a diverse, family-run Fortune 500 company with a solid future.

Douglas A. Habig doesn't really want to be named Indiana Business Magazine's Industrialist of the Year. The Kimball International president and chief executive officer thinks any credit should go to his whole Chairman's Committee "team" as Industrialists of the Year.

Well now, sorry, Doug, but there just isn't room on the magazine's cover for seven executives' portraits. However, we do understand that credit sharing is the way of life at Jasper-based Kimball International. Personnel are "empowered" and offered a voice. Teams of workers are given official stature. Cadres of five to 10 employees are formed at every level to get the jobs done.

The people-clout management style works famously for the Fortune 500 company. In fiscal 1992 it had a record $617.3 million in sales, up 11 percent from 1991, and $38.6 million in net income, up 29 percent. It employs nearly 8,000 people. The firm's operations blanket Southern Indiana, radiating from Jasper to Borden, Salem, Santa Claus, West Baden, French Lick, Dale and Evansville. The network crosses the country with manufacturing plants, sales offices and showrooms in 12 states. Add showrooms in Canada, two manufacturing plants in Mexico, two factories and a showroom in England and two factories in Austria.

At its various facilities, Kimball makes a wide variety of products. It sells many under its own brand names, but makes many others on contract for other companies. "Kimball is not just a furniture company," observes Raymond H. Diggle Jr., an expert on Indiana public companies and vice president-research in the Indianapolis office of Robert W. Baird & Co. "With expertise in electronics and semi-conductor manufacturing and assembly, well-established brands in keyboard instruments, and strong marketing relationships in producing TV and stereo cabinetry, the company is unique."

Its office furniture, seating and furniture systems carry brand names including Kimball, National, Harpers and Cetra. It makes Kimball and Bosendorfer pianos, Kimball hospitality and health-care furniture, Harmony Woods home-office furniture and Kimball Victorian and French furniture reproductions. It produces speaker cabinets and installs electronics for the RCA Surround Sound Home Theater system from Indianapolis-based Thomson Consumer Electronics. It makes control modules used in Kelsey-Hayes...

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