To the Rescue

Runners Up & Design Tips

Bellissimo!: 1st Runner-Up

"It's pathetic," Marguerite Mazzitti sighs. "We get accolades for beautiful work, and our office doesn't have a speck of creativity in it."

Mazzitti, 40, is the founder of Tutto Mio, which means "all mine" in Italian. The San Leandro, California, business imports Italian ceramics and distributes them to retail stores across the country. Mazzitti, who founded her business just over a year ago, is constantly surrounded by hand-painted serving platters, urns, vases and other gifts for the home-all in soft, warm hues. Her office, however, is a bland white, with low-to-the-ground tables ("It looks like Lilliputians work here") and some truly bad electrical wiring.

"If we run our microwave at the same time the coffee machine is going, we blow the fuses," says Mazzitti, whose business so far consists of herself, 10 full-time employees and 70 independent contractors.

Mazzitti concedes that she may have to upgrade her electricity after receiving the first runner-up's prize: a Xerox Phaser 8400DP color printer (estimated retail price: $1,699) and a one-year warranty on service and supplies, totaling $2,700. She also gets a three-year subscription to Entrepreneur.

"We produce a lot of ad hoc marketing materials, and to have a color printer here, it's going to be quicker and much less expensive than going to those places that do color copies for a dollar a page," says Mazzitti, sounding relieved. "Oh, our lives are going to change dramatically." -Geoff Williams

Music to Their Ears: 2nd Runner-Up

We know how to make sandwiches, but we don't know how to redesign an office," says Cathy Morelli.

For the past 18 years, not including the time she logged when they were dating, Morelli has worked with her husband and her in-laws at Augustino's Rock and Roll Deli, based in Carol Stream, Illinois. Morelli, 45, entered Xerox and Entrepreneur's Makeover Contest because, as she notes of the 36-employee enterprise, "the business is growing, but the office has stayed the same size." Morelli, a self-described office queen when she isn't in the restaurant or at the soon-to-open second location, describes a room with two doors-but only one is in use because the cluttered desk blocks the other.

As the second runners-up, Morelli and her husband, Jerry-along with his parents, Augie and Phyllis-have won a three-year subscription to Entrepreneur, a Xerox WorkCentre M15i multifunction unit (estimated retail price: $1,299), and a one-year warranty on service and supplies, totaling $1,821. The WorkCentre will come in especially handy because their fax machine just broke. "We're always sending out menus. With the amount of faxing we do, it's like we beat our machine to death. So this is great timing."

She also likes the idea of having a printer, fax and scanner all in one machine-saving space, something they sorely need. "There are people who have the intelligence to keep their office in order. Not that we don't," says Morelli. "We're just too busy making sandwiches." -G.W.

Design Tips From Architect Robert Luchetti

Work transformation expert Robert Luchetti, an architect and industrial designer; president of Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Robert Luchetti Associates; and a judge for Xerox and Entrepreneur's Makeover Contest; offers his top five tips on design:

  1. Incorporate the must-haves. You need a conference room, or at least a place for people to sit down at a table. In your office, use a table instead of a desk, or a desk with a round end. "You're not only planning for individuals, you're planning for small groups," he says.
  2. Plan open and closed spaces. It's important to provide sanctuaries other than the bathroom or the hallway for employees to make private calls or do some concentrated work. Says Luchetti, "Even if you [put] up a couple of walls to make one room, it's worth doing."
  3. Have dedicated and shared spaces. Dedicated means it's your area only; shared is for everyone. Some teams may have a team room, but the room is solely for that team. "There can be a number of work settings with this concept."
  4. Improve the lighting. "Most rental spaces have a 2-by-4 light that is cheap, efficient, but also very low-quality," Luchetti says. Add one 10-foot piece of track lighting with four or five pictures underneath, or a bunch of clip lights to put around. Flourescent lights are fine, but get a color temperature between 3,500 and 5,000 degrees Kelvin.
  5. Think paperless. If you use your technology intelligently, keep it simple and consistent-have one e-mail program, and take the time to link the people and the equipment. Says Luchetti, "In the long run, there's less paper stacked around, and life just gets better." -April Y. Pennington
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This article was originally published in the November 2004 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: To the Rescue.

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