Celebrating 50 Years
As Pivot Interiors celebrates our 50th year in business, we reflect on our history, our achievements and what the future holds.
Space Designs, Pivot’s original company moniker, was founded in 1973 by Ken Baugh’s father, Boyd Baugh, and business partner Clive Nall. “My dad was the original remote worker – I remember him putting on a suit and tie and going to work in a converted bedroom in our house with Clive. I worked closely with my dad during this time, for about 15 years before his retirement. I can truly say I’ve been involved in Pivot’s history from the beginning and am proud to serve as its leader for the past 26 years,” said Ken.
The company became a Herman Miller dealer for the healthcare market in 1975 and expanded to full-line Herman Miller offerings in 1978. Pivot Interiors was the result of a 1999 merger of Space Designs and CRI, which was originally founded in San Jose in 1987. Over the next 30 years, Pivot opened offices across California, expanded markets to serve a variety of tech, education, start-ups and healthcare clients, growing steadily as the company’s staff expanded to nearly 250 employees. Today, Pivot serves clients across the nation from our 6 offices located in Santa Clara, San Francisco, Fremont, Costa Mesa, La Mirada and Los Angeles.
“What stands out to me the most over the years is the relationships we have built with our design industry partners and our clients. We have this unique opportunity to touch lives through design and impact what individuals experience day to day when they go to work. That is rewarding and something I am excited to continue to develop as we watch the workplace evolve for the next 50 years,” said Ken.
In a time where both economic stability and the workplace is at the forefront of many of our minds, reaching 50 years in business is significant. Through this time Pivot has weathered many economic upturns and down cycles, acquisitions and mergers, product and process improvements – including the introduction of the iconic Aeron chair in 1996. Ken recalls the dot.com crash in 2001 as particularly challenging, but a time that the company overcame and continues to serve many tech clients in Silicon Valley to this day.
“Our people truly have persevered for Pivot’s success over the years. We have had the privilege of serving some of the most influential tech companies that create products that change the world – and in some small part, we are able to play a role in providing a workplace experience to support their people to perform at their best,” said Ken.
“We have customers that we serve today who have been with us for more than 30 years – that level of loyalty is significant,” said Sandra Rudloff, Vice President, Financial Operations. “I remember starting at Pivot and the highest level of technology we had was a fax machine. We were given a computer by one of the tech companies we worked with to directly communicate and allow them to place orders. At the time, we were working with them on a music function in an office that only had 11 people. The company and its offerings are now known worldwide.
“I have been with the company for 23 years, and recall having just two sales offices in San Jose and in Pleasanton, as well as our warehouse,” said Kristi Nadeau, Senior Vice President, People & Culture. We have grown incredibly since our 25th anniversary, but the one thing that remains unchanged are our values. Our people truly value togetherness and the type of supportive culture we have built.”
In addition to being known for work in the tech industry, Pivot’s business began rooted in the healthcare market, with El Camino Hospital as one of the first clients in the mid 1970s. Ken served as a part time installer on this project, early in his career.
“I remember working at El Camino and getting to know everything about the hospital,” recalls Ken. “Both of my kids were born at El Camino Hospital, and when they decommissioned the old building their COO presented me with a brick from the original structure. El Camino is still a client to this day and represents generations of design, partnership and watching this client grow from the old hospital to the new space that we also had the opportunity to work on.”
To this day, Pivot employs a dedicated healthcare team to serve hospital and medical center clients across California. During COVID, Pivot worked with Herman Miller and Kaiser to fast-track the planning and building of a large-scale testing facility in Berkeley, CA, with the capacity to process 70,000 COVID tests per week. “This project stands out in my memory as being a significant team effort and having a huge impact on lives,” remembers Sandra.
What’s next for Pivot? We expect that the next five to 10 years will bring about more rapid change than the last 50 – a critical time for both for how people work and the role of design in the workplace. Pivot is well-positioned to leverage innovation during the coming years, with data-driven tools and relationships such as that with the global workplace strategist Leesman, as well as an internal research and design team, and our new Los Angeles showroom opening over the course of this year. Pivot continues to rethink solutions to distributed work to adapt to the current climate – and what will come next.
“There has been so much change in our industry during Pivot’s lifetime. When I was first hired it was typical to create a standard office space with cubicles and conference rooms, but over the years our focus has shifted to customization, design services and making spaces that suit the needs of the employee, with aesthetics and settings to increase productivity and wellbeing at the forefront. Because of this, the role of the designer has really progressed to guiding our customers through these choices. There is much more time and resources that go into designs today versus 50, 25 or even 10 years ago,” said Kristy.
“Working with integrity and trust – some of our core values – are the reason we have made it this far,” said Sandra. “To quote Indiana Jones, it’s not the years…it’s the miles.”
“We are proud of our work and dedication to our customers and the services we provide, as well as the role we have played in becoming a partner to many of these clients on their journey to growth and expansion,” said Ken. "We look forward to what’s next.”