To Our Valued Partners,

After 30 years at the helm, current President of Smith System, Charlîe Rîsdall will retire next year; Jim Stelter is set to lead the company into the next chapter.

With Charlie’s planned retirement drawing near, we’re pleased to announce Jim Stelter has accepted the position of President, Smith System, effective this month.

Under Charlie’s leadership, Smith System has updated countless schools across the United States and tripled its revenue in the last six years alone. Says Risdall, “When we started talking with Steelcase, their expertise in manufacturing and education and their commitment to preserving our unique market position felt like a perfect fit. After meeting Jim, it’s clear he brings a rare combination of industry knowledge and passion for education. We’re so happy to welcome him aboard.”

Jim’s energy, enthusiasm and ability to build solid, lasting relationships are part of what make him an excellent choice to lead Smith System. He doesn’t just see a chair or a table — he imagines the students who will use them, because he really believes the right K-12 products can make a meaningful difference in kids’ lives and learning outcomes. Additionally, Jim’s deep understanding of our industry will position him for immediate impact right as the fall specification season ramps up. As part of the transition, he’ll work closely with Charlie in the months prior to his departure.

“I’m so excited to apply what I’ve learned about successful classrooms and where the world of learning is going. We want to create environments where kids can engage more fully and process information in the way that makes sense for them. One way we’ll do this is to create classrooms and learning environments by working with architects, designers and schools on the front lines of what’s next in learning,” — Jim Stelter

Jim most recently served as CEO of Inscape and President of West Elm Workspace, where his work contributed to the explosion of the ancillary movement. Prior to that, he launched Vanerum Stelter in 2003, a Grand Rapids-based educational furnishings company. Vanerum Stelter researched leading classroom spaces, studied trends and led seminars as part of their “New World of Learning” efforts, and then created new products for learning environments.


The Smith System Team