Wendy Berry knows that great people are what make W Design the award-winning interior design firm it is today. She also knows what any good leader understands: how to play to the strengths of her team.
“Not everyone is equipped or has the wherewithal to do large-scale projects from inception to completion, or they don't have the bandwidth of employees and the organization it takes to put all the moving parts together for multiple projects all going at the same time,” she says. “We're really good at it, and it's because I have this talented team that everyone plays such a key role in. Not one or two people do everything, so we are truly what a team is about.”
In the latest entry to our Creative Conversations series, we chatted (virtually, of course) with Wendy, owner and principal designer, and Julia, the company’s chief operating officer, about growing W Design, the impact of COVID-19 on operations, and the tools that help them manage it all.
Wendy Berry and Julia Mastandrea
17 Years in the Making
In 2003, Wendy started W Design as a residential interior design business out of her home in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. Over the years, this snowballed into designing clients’ second homes, third homes, and even their offices. “Our residential business went from local to across the country,” Wendy says.
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Eventually, the business expanded into commercial design. Today, Wendy and her team design surgery centers, law offices, restaurants, and more. Most recently, they’ve turned to senior living centers. “We’ve upgraded it to feel like when you walk in, you're truly walking into someone's house,” Wendy says.
Great Room in Daylight
Although W Design has grown to 30 employees and two offices located in Cleveland, Ohio and Naples, Florida, Wendy says she still considers it a small business, albeit one in which each individual has a very specialized role to play. “I know what we're good at and I know what we're not that good at, and I try to focus on the things that we are good at.”
COVID-19 Challenges and Opportunities
According to Wendy, the residential side of business has been going strong amid the global pandemic because everyone is nesting and staying home. But the commercial side has taken a toll.
“We're very grateful for the work that we have and we know how lucky we are,” Wendy says. Fortunately, W Design has not had to lay anyone off due to the pandemic. In fact, they’ve added four new team members.
COVID-19 has, however, made it more challenging to coordinate with vendors. Many of the companies that W Design works with have either shut down completely or have significantly reduced their staff to adhere to social distancing guidelines. This has made it difficult to coordinate the timing of goods.
“Our challenges are always the timing and not so much what we do, but it's what everyone else does that crosses over what we do to make us look good and get our projects completed,” Wendy says. Luckily, Wendy and her team of project managers have systems in place to coordinate with vendors and track progress.
Software That Grows With W Design
The W Design team has used Design Manager to streamline their business operations as they’ve grown over the years.
“Design Manager has helped us keep everything organized in one location,” Julia, the company’s chief operating officer, says. “We are able to do all of our processes through the program, which saves us from using various different programs to accomplish this – Excel, Word, Quickbooks, etc. With Design Manager, we can keep track of our receiving status, updates, warehouse numbers, acknowledgements, delivery tickets, and inventory all in one place.”
Some of Julia’s favorite features include the vendor listing, project reports, employee time tracking, and the inventory tab. “We keep all of our inventory listed in this function, which is a lifesaver when you have warehouses all over the country that you have to keep track of items in, as well as two offices full of inventory.”
Although they’ve grown considerably in size, adding additional employees and two locations, the W Design team appreciates Design Manager’s ability to evolve with them and fit their needs as they scale.
“Design Manager has been able to grow with us, add functions and features, and will work with us to make sure we are utilizing the software in the best possible way. Other programs are still missing some of the components that DM offers as an all in one program. The more growth we have had, the more we need to streamline, and this has been the best software for us to do that,” says Wendy.
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