Scott Lesizza is a founding principal of Workwell Partners, a cutting-edge provider of workspace furnishing solutions based in New York City. He also recently founded Slyde Charging Solutions, a family of products that provide lockable and convenient workstation tools to charge, store and secure valuables and electronic devices. With over 20 years of experience in the furniture industry, Lesizza founded Workwell Partners in 2002 with co-founders Jason Lesizza and Jonathan Kessler, after working as a top salesperson for Humanscale, a premier designer and manufacturer of high-performance ergonomic products for the workplace. Lesizza has led his team to successfully complete workplace and educational projects at the Excellence Charter School, Growing-Up Green Charter School, the Newsweek corporate headquarters, Segal & Company, and many more. He received a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Hamilton College.
How did you get into the industry?
I remember walking out the doors of an extremely hot auditorium at college graduation and saying to myself, “What the heck am I going to do now?”. I had no job prospects and I was sleeping on my mom’s couch in a studio apartment in the city. It was the mid 90’s when the job market was not great, but the one job that you can always find are sales jobs. After a month of job interviews with little success, I ran into a fellow Hamilton alum and rugby player who had graduated a year before me. He told me about his success at a company called SoftView (now Humanscale). I interviewed, got the job and began my career in contract furniture.
Any emerging industry trends?
I see many industry trends in the world of contract furniture and workplace environments. Smaller desks meant to act more like “touchdown stations” are sometimes being used by different employees each day. Sit to stand desks are the norm. Campus-like office environments where people take their laptops and work in multiple settings throughout the day are also commonplace. I’m also seeing reclaimed wood incorporated into almost every office project we’re a part of.
Any industry opportunities or challenges?
I have seen a number of creative business opportunities sprout up due to the increasing prevalence of coworking spaces. It seems like we are not too far off from Uber for office spaces. In addition, companies that can develop products that utilize metadata to create a more efficient use of office space can do very well.
Inspiration for the business idea, and your vision for Slyde Charging Solutions?
The idea for Slyde came about organically. Three years ago there was a rapid and sudden shift to the “open office”. Virtually everyone wanted benches instead of large workstations and private offices. Benches are plain and very hard to differentiate one from another. It was on our fourth mock up when I realized that I couldn’t tell my product from my competition. I knew we had to do something to differentiate ourselves. We blew up a large rendering of our next mock up, taped it to our conference wall and brainstormed as a team. The first thing we noticed was that it was very sterile and impersonal. We had feedback that users did not like the fact that they no longer had personal boundaries, nor a place to put images of their family, an autographed baseball or other personal effects. We needed to give this back to them. We also noticed that with the new open office layouts and shrinking desk space, there wasn’t a place to easily charge phones and tablets without taking up valuable worktop space. We decided to address all three needs by creating what is now our Divyde product. The immediate goal was not to create a new company. It was simply to win that particular project, which it ultimately did. This happened on a few subsequent projects before I knew we had something special.
What’s next for Slyde Charging Solutions in the near future?
We’re pushing our family of Slyde products nationally and plan to increase distribution throughout the U.S.. Our sales projections are lofty and we are already starting to see hasty imitations. This is a very timely line of products, and the time is now.
Your key initiatives for the success of Slyde Charging Solutions?
Finding fabricating partners was very difficult, but we have a fantastic partner now. Another initiative was taking the product from functional to beautiful, so partnering with a great product designer was key. Lastly, changing the natural human tendency to go towards “that’s the way we have always done things” and just getting the product and concept in front of people.
Your most difficult moment at Slyde Charging Solutions? (and what did you learn?)
I had to learn that functionality, aesthetics and marketing are equally as important.
Ideal experience for a customer/client?
Offering people an opportunity to personalize their space in an otherwise impersonal environment. We also aim to free up valuable desktop space and make sure their personal property is secure.
How do you motivate others?
People are inspired by great entrepreneurial stories where someone saw an opportunity and acted upon it. Customers like being a part of the journey, as do employees and partners. When an entrepreneur or business leader’s passion comes across, it will inevitably motivate those involved. It’s infectious. You can’t fake passion or the courage of your convictions.
Career advice to those in your industry?
Take chances, always try to think two steps ahead, build your own personal brand online and in the press, make trustworthy industry friends, and if you ain’t having fun doing it, don’t.