In an exclusive interview, we had the privilege of sitting down with Ms. Nancy Apel, CEO and Co-Founder of Working Spaces, to delve into the remarkable 25-year journey of the company.
From its humble beginnings to national success, the interview sheds light on key challenges, pivotal moments, and the core values that define Working Spaces.
A Journey Rooted in Passion and Resilience
Nancy Apel, originally from a suburb of Chicago, embarked on her journey in the furniture industry unexpectedly. Starting in sales positions across various industries, including copiers and long-distance services, she found her way to the furniture sector.
It was during her time at Kimball that the opportunity to join forces with Marcy Handlan arose. Together, they laid the foundation for what would become Working Spaces 25 years ago.
“Our journey began with a passion for creating inspiring workspaces. Little did we know, it would evolve into a quarter-century of excellence.” – Nancy Apel
Differentiating Through Exceptional Client Experience
From the outset, Ms. Apel and her team at Working Spaces were driven by a desire to stand out in a competitive market. The key differentiator was a commitment to providing exceptional service and a unique client experience. Apel emphasizes the importance of evolving with the times, always striving for excellence, and embracing the challenge of creating spaces that clients are proud of.
“Exceptional client experiences are at the core of our success. We don’t just sell furniture; we create environments that reflect the essence of our clients’ brands.” – Nancy Apel
Cultural Foundations and Client-Centric Values
At the heart of Working Spaces’ success lies a strong company culture centered around empathy, teamwork, and a client-first approach.
Ms. Apel emphasizes the significance of maintaining a healthy company culture, where every team member plays a crucial role. The company places a high value on relationships—with manufacturers, clients, and design partners—building a network that has contributed to its enduring success.
“Our culture is our foundation. It’s about respecting each other, working collaboratively, and putting our clients at the center of everything we do.” – Nancy Apel
Navigating Economic Challenges
Reflecting on past challenges, Ms. Apel highlights the economic slowdown of 2008 as a particularly tough period. The company faced layoffs but managed to weather the storm, emerging with a different look but a steadfast commitment to its core values. The resilience displayed during challenging times has become a hallmark of Working Spaces.
“Weathering the storm in 2008 was a defining moment. It taught us the importance of adaptability and resilience. We emerged stronger and more focused on our mission.” – Nancy Apel
Adapting to Change: COVID-19 and Beyond
Discussing the recent challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Ms. Apel shares insights into the company’s decision not to lay off employees during this period.
Acknowledging the difficulty of the decision, she underscores the importance of balancing what’s right for the people with what’s healthy for the company. The pandemic has reshaped the way businesses approach workspaces, and Working Spaces is poised to navigate the evolving landscape with its client-focused values.
“The pandemic forced us to make tough decisions. We chose to prioritize our team, and that decision has strengthened our bond and resilience as a company.” – Nancy Apel
Looking Forward: A Lesson in Humility
As Working Spaces celebrates its 25th year, Ms. Apel imparts a valuable lesson: the importance of humility.
Regardless of the achievements, she encourages a mindset that acknowledges there is always room for improvement. Maintaining humility, respecting others, and staying true to core values are principles that have guided Working Spaces throughout its journey.
“Success should be accompanied by humility. It keeps us grounded and focused on continuous improvement. There’s always more to learn and achieve.” – Nancy Apel
The Future of Workplace Design: A Lasting Legacy
With a legacy built on passion, resilience, and a commitment to excellence, Working Spaces continues to shape the future of workplace design. As the industry evolves, the company remains dedicated to delivering world-class client experiences and staying at the forefront of commercial furniture and office design expertise.
In celebrating 25 years of success, Working Spaces stands as a testament to the enduring power of a client-centric approach, a resilient spirit, and a culture rooted in empathy and teamwork.
The journey unfolds with a commitment to creating inspiring workspaces that define excellence for years to come.