Merchants of Virtue — The one-of-a-kind book about a company’s journey to sustainability—the people, their process, and their commitment to the bigger purpose of making the world a better place.

Starting in 1990, Herman Miller, Inc., started on a 20-year drive to turn itself into an environmental leader. The premier maker of office furniture soon  became a role model for corporate responsibility.

Author Bill Birchard reveals the inner workings of the company, the personalities of its in-the-trenches leaders, and how the company set a new standard of  behavior.

Starting with slashing shipments of waste to landfills, the people of Herman Miller revamped manufacturing processes, building architecture, product design, finances, and much more to win countless awards as a responsible citizen.


“While manufacturing may be a dying art in the United States, this book illustrates how one company can do well by its shareholders, employees, society, and the environment—and still turn heads with its products. Herman Miller’s sustainable sojourn is a remarkable story, capably told." Library Journal

Advance Praise

“Merchants of Virtue is a business story for our times. An AMERICAN story, of risk taking, vision, values, and pluck...”  

— Judith Samuelson, Executive Director, Business and Society Program, The Aspen Institute

“Herman Miller has shown extraordinary leadership...This book tells the story of how [it] charted an innovative path, and shows the temerity of its people to stay on that path.”  

— William McDonough, WILLIAM McDONOUGH + PARTNERS, and coauthor of Cradle to Cradle.

“Bill Birchard’s excellent chronicle of the Herman Miller story brings to light some critical lessons…Never give in to compromise solutions; seek to shatter apparent trade-offs; draw from the wellspring of enduring corporate values; and challenge people in the company to take personal responsibility…”  

— Stuart L. Hart, S. C. Johnson Chair in Sustainable Global Enterprise, Cornell University and author of Capitalism at the Crossroads

In Merchants of Virtue, the author shows that innovation at Herman Miller extends well beyond new product development, training and developing people. It was no surprise to me that they implemented the EVA Management System right down to the shop floor even on Day One.  This insightful story about their journey with business sustainability efforts puts them up there with the other cutting-edge organizations.  

— Joel M. Stern, Chairman and CEO, Stern Stewart & Co. and Stern Stewart Capital Partners