“Our whole business purpose is to inspire better spaces for life,” says Jacobsen’s newly minted CEO, Renee Jacobsen.
For 60 years, Jacobsen has been providing an unparalleled range of inspired flooring solutions to cover just about any Kiwi floorspace – from the finest residential homes, to contemporary offices and the most demanding of public spaces. As a third-generation member of the family-owned business, Renee is very proud of the Jacobsen heritage. “I’ve been intrinsically tied to this business my whole life and I feel really privileged to be a part of it. The legacy left by my father and grandparents gives my work all the more meaning, weight, responsibility and purpose.”
With her innovation hat on, Renee is committed to exploring the way that technology can support Jacobsen customers in decision-making for a range of product applications. “Technology, and how it can work in service of sales and marketing, has been a big focus for me for the last few years. As an example, I’ve been exploring how we can use hybrid sales models to enhance the customer experience of being in-store while also being supported virtually.
“Imagine one of our stockists is showing a potential end-customer through our flooring products while on the retail shop floor. Now, instead of having to go away and check on stock availability, our retail partner can simply scan a QR code, get a live stock list and present a range of detailed visualisations for how our products might be used in their customers’ building application. Tools like this enable us to ensure a personal connection for customers, while also utilising the benefits of digital technology to enhance that experience. That’s just one of the ways that we’re constantly thinking about how we can add value for all our stakeholders, in particular our customers and staff.”
The big-picture nature of the Jacobsen vision is evident across the business, Renee says, in both inspirational and practical ways. “I love thinking about how product innovation is changing; all the ways that digital technologies are unlocking new ideas about manufacturing. The use of technology to make the world more accessible and build a better, more sustainable future is a big motivator for me.” One tangible application of that thinking is the Jacobsen Product Stewardship Scheme, Re.Form, Renee says. “We work closely with our suppliers and customers to take back waste flooring from the installation process. Building waste is so varied that many products can’t be placed into existing recycling streams, so we have to create new ones and make sure that architects and designers are aware of them at the specifying stage. Through this scheme, we have implemented systems to collect that flooring waste and then repurpose it into new, closed-loop products.”
This scheme is one part of a larger sustainability and impact-driven business model, Renee says, which is backed up with industry certifications. “We are Toitū CarbonZero Certified, as well as having carbon reduction goals in line with science based targets. Our product’s sustainability credentials and embodied emissions data is really accessible and transparent on our website because we want to encourage people to select products with sustainability as an important consideration.”
A passion for positive impact is woven throughout Renee’s work and was notably documented in the Impact Report that she helped Jacobsen to produce last year. “That report was a significant milestone for us, as it showcased where we are on our journey, while also cementing a lot of the thinking that we’re doing across the business. We learned that there is so much value in sharing where you are and all the ways you’re learning and trying to do better. It was really important to us to create the report in line with GRI [Global Reporting Initiative] standards so that we could be sure it was grounded and credible. As part of that process, we did a materiality assessment which we also found really valuable. Putting all that information in front of you paints a much clearer picture of how to make the biggest impact.
“One of the things I’m most proud of is how our staff responded to that report and how proud they were of how seriously we’re taking impact. Similarly, we found that a lot of our customers and suppliers aligned closely with those values and our story. There’s a collective effort that builds by sharing your journey which we found starts to lift the expectations and ambitions of everyone around you.”
In addition to their smaller residential projects, Jacobsen is busy working across many important commercial projects: schools, workplaces, hospitals and everything in-between. Projects recently completed with Jacobsen products include the Pavilion at the new-generation retirement community, Burlington Village. Mostra Design worked on this project with Jacobsen and have delivered a study in understated elegance. Another recent success story, Renee says, is a 230-person workspace for Meredith Connell law firm, designed by Jasmax. “The design brief was to celebrate contemporary Aotearoa, connect people with the natural environment in a workspace dedicated to well-being, and expel preconceived notions of the ‘typical’ law firm. The resulting space uniquely includes a living terrarium, providing employees with a sensory experience akin to walking through the Waitakere Ranges.”
Meredith Connell Offices
Designed by Jasmax
The Burlington Pavilion
Designed by Mostra
Having just stepped into the CEO role from her previous position as Director of Marketing, Impact & Innovation, Renee is excited about leading the business into its next chapter. “I look forward to continuing to evolve and adapt in this ever-changing world, and to challenging ourselves to add more value to our customer and the employee experience. As a Mum of 3 girls, I’m really curious, concerned and excited about the world they’re going to grow up in, and I bring that future lens for them, and Aotearoa, into my work life as well. I’m deeply committed to our business bringing a proactively positive impact for the future. I guess you could call me an optimist. I am always looking at how we can make things better for the next generation.”
To learn more about Jacobsen and to connect with Renee, visit https://jacobsen.co.nz/ and follow Jacobsen and Renee on LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram.