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Beaverton company's healthy furniture makes bodies happy

(Jennifer Priest Mitchell is a freelance writer in Beaverton. She can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .)

Colleen Harris enjoys doing something many of us take for granted: sitting. That's right, relaxing and getting off her feet.

'We were not designed to sit all day. Sitting in front of the computer screen, which many of us do for work, is not that healthy. But there are ways to make it healthy and ways to keep people's bodies in alignment and adjusted properly while they are doing their jobs, so they do not have problems down the road,' Harris explained.

Proud owner of Harris Work Systems, she said she founded the company ten years ago after seeing what can happen to people who do not take care of their bodies while working.

She worked as the marketing person for ergonomic furniture products and learned a great deal about the importance of, well, sitting and working in a healthy environment - in chairs and in front of desks and keyboard trays that are fit to one's own body shape, size, and type.

'When I first started marketing the products, some people just laughed at me,' she said.

Then she did some work with the city of Portland, ensuring that their employees had proper chairs and seat adjustments in the work place. The city has now won three awards and been recognized for its ergonomics system.

Eventually Harris bought the business side of things and started up her own company, doing $300,000 worth of business in her first year. Harris Work Systems did $4.5 million worth of business this year and while many of her clients are in Oregon and Southwest Washington, she said she ships products all over.

'This is one of my favorites, and this is what a lot of people ask us about,' she said, patting the back of what looks like something you'd slap on a horse to go for a ride. 'This Saddle Chair is made in Australia, and I ship them all over - even to Georgia.'

Harris is delighted to report that her clients love coming in for furniture, or having her (or her staff) come to them and assess their needs.

'It's like being fitted for a suit at Nordstrom's,' she said.

Anyone can sell people a chair, but Harris said the folks at her company actually fit them for a chair and spend time ensuring that they have proper alignment while using that particular chair.

Harris's love of healthy living spaces and the environment are what motivate her to run her business and run it well.

When asked whether she is a native Oregonian, she laughed and shared, 'Well, almost! Kaiser was not finished until 10 years after my birth, so my mom had to go to Vancouver to deliver me … but we came back to Oregon as soon as we could, and I've lived here all my life!

'I've traveled all over and I kiss the ground every time I get back to Oregon! I love helping my customers … they're what get me out of bed each day!'

For more information on Harris Work Systems, located on Nimbus in Beaverton, visit www.harrisworksystems.com.