Irwin Seating Company was founded in Grand Rapids, Michigan back in 1907 under the name Steel Furniture Company. Its five initial investors included three Irwin brothers: Earle, Eber, and Robert. During those early years, the company manufactured and sold theatre seating and classroom furniture.
Later in the 1930s, these same Irwin brothers bought out the other investors. As a result, the name was changed to Irwin Seating Company, and Earle was named president.
In 1941, the winds of WWII blew across our nation and the following year the company ceased production of its normal product line to build M-1 Carbine Rifles for the war effort. After the war, William W. Irwin (Earle’s son) was named president, and Irwin Seating Company resumed manufacturing furniture for classrooms, auditoriums, and theatres at a location on Buchanan Street in downtown Grand Rapids.
Fast forward to 1968, when the company made a big move to its current location northwest of the city on Fruit Ridge Avenue. That same year, Irwin Seating also introduced the popular Citation chair, one of the industry's first chairs with a molded plastic back panel.
William Irwin continued to serve as president until his retirement in 1984, at which time his son, Earle S. (Win) Irwin, was named president & chief executive officer of the company.
Decades later in 1991, Irwin Seating purchased Folding Bleacher Company in Altamont, Illinois. The addition of the folding bleacher line gave Irwin Seating Company the ability to supply a growing arena market with innovative telescopic products and become knowledge leaders for its customers.
Irwin officially became a fourth-generation, family-owned company when Win’s son, Graham, took over the day-to-day operations in 2015 as the fourth president & CEO of Irwin Seating Company. Win remains chairman of the board, and two of his other four sons—Coke and Andrew—currently hold management positions with the company as well.
Today, Irwin is a name that reaches beyond just seating. Curious and agile, we’re driven to help create modern, immersive, human-centered spaces that not only enhance but celebrate the many ways people come together.