INDUSTRY LEADER, INDUSTRY INVESTOR:

Commercial Design Services, Inc.

            Stewart Davis began his career as a store planner for Federated Department Stores, which provided him exposure to the field of contract field design. It did not take him long to identify his niche and chart the course of his career. 

            In 1988, Davis founded Commercial Design Services (CDS) in Tampa, where he continues as the company’s president and CEO. Starting out as a design firm, CDS has morphed into one of the largest office furniture dealers in the southeast. Under Davis’ leadership, CDS has evolved into a $56 million firm with 90 full-time staff members, including 15 designers. Even though its largest client is Publix Supermarkets, nearly half its work takes place outside the state of Florida. One of CDS’s most significant recent endeavors has been an affiliation with the U.S. government and military, creating and designing command centers and controlled environments. 

            One of CDS’ favorite clients is Ringling College of Art and Design. CDS professionals Holly Hetherington and Jenifer Daniel have helped Ringling College furnish three new buildings since 2007, comprising nearly 250,000 square feet of unprecedented quality in academic facilities. 

            Hetherington’s involvement with the campus has not been limited to her role with her employer. She elaborates, “One day each semester I come to the Ringling campus to teach a class on specifications of systems in furniture design. The interior design students at Ringling College are incredibly impressive. I’ve mentored Ringling students and helped connect them with internships and job leads. In my opinion, the interior design department at Ringling College is one of the top few programs of its kind in the nation. The students and alumni sell themselves. Their portfolios are extremely impressive. They are innovative and bring an outside-the-box perspective.” 

            Davis explains why CDS is a major donor to Ringling College of Art and Design, having contributed more than $200,000 in the college’s current Pathway to Preeminence Campaign: 

            “Students who graduate from Ringling College are among the most creative designers in the world. They are unequivocally on the cutting edge of technology. CDS is pleased to invest in the next generation of designers who will propel our industry to new and exciting heights.”