Sometimes, when you move into a new home, you invite the neighbors in for an open house to show off the new digs.
Peter Woods, the CEO and president of Cannondale Sports Unlimited is doing that today, when he welcomes press and local officials at a ribbon cutting this morning at the company’s new headquarters in Wilton at the iPark that straddles the Norwalk-Wilton border. But just yesterday, he gave GOOD Morning Wilton a sneak peek at the 40,000 sq. ft. facilities they designed from the nuts-and-bolts up, and sat down to talk about what it meant for the company to relocate ‘back home,’ where Cannondale Bicycles got its start back in 1971.
“When we first came to see the building, it was completely empty, down to the studs. We said, ‘How cool, we can do literally anything.’ We worked with a local Stamford architect, to get teams grouped collaboratively, it’s free moving and open. There’s enough space you can hear yourself think.”
The decor and office plan is geared in many ways to that kind of creative work environment: an open, modern layout, with glass walled “creative spaces” that bring people together to collaborate and create. All of it is complemented by sleek modern furniture and chic, mod colors–oranges, lime greens are set off by grays and stark whites. Plus large picture windows help bring a sense of the outside to the insides.
“We really wanted something cool–it’s a bike company so we wanted something with a lot of light. There’s a lot of design that goes on here, we wanted it to be very open. It’s quite a relaxed industry, so we wanted it to be industrial, high ceilings, not super corporate–it’s very easy flowing, collaborative and light. This building was the best that we saw, and it was a great link with Wilton, to the history of the company with Cannondale–with coming home.”
There are oversized high-def images of cyclists and dirt bike riders on the walls next to reclaimed wood paneling. In the wide hallways prototype bikes are the artsy sculptures that capture attention of visitors until they see the framed bike race jerseys signed by leading athletes. There’s also a large natural plant wall decorating a bistro employee café and an outdoor deck with umbrella’d tables for outdoor lunch seating. What’s more, the building was designed with sustainable elements, including an “eco-roof” with solar panels.
It’s a company that offers a lot as well to the 125 employees at the Wilton location, especially when it comes to cycling and outdoor time. They boast an employee bike storage room and encourage employees to spend time during their days on group bicycle rides on trails behind the facility. “In the afternoon, people will go out for a group bike ride, in the hills back here,” Woods said. That, plus a fully stocked exercise gym and locker rooms with showers make it an appealing place to work.
Woods acknowledges that part of the lure in relocating Cannondale to Wilton was the town’s embrace of a green outlook, its access to the Norwalk River Valley Trail and some of the symbiotic alignment with healthy businesses like The Well, the organic market just up the road, as well as Mrs. Green’s and Outdoor Sports Center.
“The notion of having the Norwalk River Trail running right past us is important. People who work here love cycling, they’re passionate about it and want people to be part of that. Being in a town that believes in those things, believes in being green, believes in getting out there and being healthy, it’s absolutely part of the fit,” he said.
Indeed, the company is talking with the Norwalk River Valley Trail representatives about getting more involved in helping the trail grow.
Cannondale has offices around the world in Europe, South America and Asia, but the bulk of its research and development and product design is headquartered in Wilton. “The real heart of what we design and what we make is here,” Woods explained, adding that the office is also home to the North American sales and marketing, as well as to management, finance and human resource operations.
They really are making it ‘home’ to everyone, as Woods says they’re “thrilled to be here.”
“We love the space, this is a great industry and it’s a wonderful company to be part of. The products are great and it’s all about getting people on bikes and having a really good time. It’s a really nice fit for Wilton and we’re thrilled to be here,” he said.