Partners: Randy Saville, Michael Maude, Dave Cvitkovich, Kamran Nafissi
Year founded: 2003
Number of employees: 11
Percentage growth 2009-2012: 421%
There may be some truth to the adage that in order to be successful, it helps to get your hands a little dirty. That philosophy has certainly paid off for Boston-based contract furniture dealer Strategic Workspaces, although not in a literal sense.
The firm got dirty — or to be more accurate, DIRTTy — when it teamed up with DIRTT, a Canadian company that manufactures and distributes sustainable prefabricated wall systems, to significantly expand upon its office furniture business. The affiliation has helped to catapult the company into the seventh position on the Boston Business Journal’s 2013 Pacesetters list with a 421 percent revenue growth rate from 2009-2012.
Strategic Workspaces had seen its office furniture business grow even before the agreement with DIRTT (which is an acronym for “Doing It Right This Time”), but since the affiliation began in 2011, business has really taken off. Revenue more than doubled in 2012 to $12.9 million (from $6.1 million the previous year), after steady growth in the preceding years ($5 million in 2010, $2.5 million in 2009) as an office furniture-only concern.
“Our business is expanding and we’re on the cutting edge of this revolution of interior spaces,” said principal David Cvitkovich, who co-founded the company with business partner Randy Saville in 2003. “Our furniture business has grown fairly robustly as well (it’s up 25 percent), so we have not put the brakes on the furniture business — it’s complemented by it.”
Partner Saville said the wall business allows the firm to grow the furniture business even faster “because we develop relationships earlier on in the construction process.”
Strategic Workspaces landed some significant DIRTT clients early on, including the 290,000-square-foot build-out of the MFS Investment Management headquarters at 111 Huntington Ave. in 2011. That project then led to international projects for MFS office build-outs in Hong Kong, Singapore, Toronto, London and Frankfurt.
“The satellite locations around the globe are not as big as the headquarters building, but it’s all good business and it has given us the ability to manage logistics internationally,” said Saville.
Strategic Workspaces has also gained a foothold in the Kendall Square Life Sciences market following a 32,000-square-foot life science project at 325 Vassar St. that the firm contracted with BioMed Realty Trust early on. “It got us thinking about how much opportunity would present itself in the Kendall Square build out,” said Saville.
In addition to the end-user clients like MFS, Pioneer and BioMed, the DIRTT system is becoming very popular with locally based construction and project management firms such as Structure Tone, Suffolk, The Richmond Group, and J. Calnan Associates for both the DIRTT system’s impact on sustainable building as well as its time-saving elements.
“What you’re talking about is reducing the construction schedule,” said Cvitkovich. “Contractors are finding that they can shave off 20 percent on their construction time when they’re building out these spaces and that impacts their costs as well as the environment.”
With the increased interest in green building in the commercial real estate industry, the timing for the DIRTT walls may be ripe as the product represents a sustainable alternative to drywall.
“There was a huge opportunity for the modular construction piece (of our business) with everything going on in the industry around sustainability. The cost of drywall keeps going up, and every time a tenant switches out a lease they were throwing all that stuff out in landfills,” said Cvitkovich. “If the cost of modular goes down and the cost of conventional materials goes up, why wouldn’t you buy modular?”