CLARKS SUMMIT – Design Spot Inc., which was founded here in 1972, has never gone very far and has always operated from offices on South State Street. From 1972 to 1988, the company was inside 600 S. State, before moving across Upper Knapp Road to 604 S. State. The two buildings are similar in style and were designed and built by the company’s owner, Mat Swientisky.
Since Design Spot’s employees were then engaged in design and construction, Swientisky thought it made commercial and marketing sense to base the business in structures of the company’s own manufacture.
“We did a lot of work out of these buildings,” Swientisky said recently, standing next to an angled drawing table inside 604 S. State.
The company’s name and Swientisky have been the only constants over the last 46 years. Design Spot’s service offerings and where it sells the majority of its work have changed since the company opened for business. From the 1980s until 1995, Design Spot had 28 people on the payroll and offered services in homebuilding and complete interior design.
“We were at the point where we would design a house completely, do turnkey, and furnish it, decorate it, and walk out, and the buyer wouldn’t have to do a thing,” Swientisky said.
For five years in the 1980s, Design Spot sold furniture. The pieces were used on the company’s design-build projects, but also retailed to consumers.
The company now has just one full-time employee: Swientisky.
“Basically, all I’m doing now is kitchens,” he said.
Swientisky does most of his designs by hand. A part-time employee keys the owner’s renderings into software applications from which renderings are produced.
For the better part of its existence, the majority of Design Spot’s work was done locally. This is no longer true, as Swientisky said about 85 percent of his kitchen designs are done for customers who live near New York City. Many jobs have been for people in Bergen County, N.J. If the Keystone State runs a trade surplus with the Garden State, Swientisky can take some of the credit.
“My average kitchen job there, with all the details, is as much or more than the average remodeled kitchen that I do locally,” he said. “In New Jersey, the average kitchen is $40,000 to $50,000, just for cabinets.”
Design Spot’s showroom contains examples of cabinets and drawers finished with different types of woods and handles, all custom-made in a shop in Pennsylvania Dutch country. Swientisky has used their services for many years.
“They do one kitchen at a time,” he said. “But they have all the latest technology and probably have 30 people employed in their shop.”
A Scranton native still working a decade beyond the age many people decide to retire, Swientisky decided on a career in design and construction while he was attending college. Sitting in some psychology classes, Swientisky realized he had the ability to visualize how ideas and concepts would appear as finished work.
“I guess it’s a natural gift, primarily,” he said.
When he was 14, Swientisky began working for an uncle in the construction business. He soon learned his way around job sites, and how projects moved from conception to construction to completion. Seven years later, while in college, he decided to apply his visualization skills to buildings.
“I quit school, got books, read, and an architect took me under his wing,” he said. “We designed a house together. I spent a lot of time reading and learning and working with knowledgeable people.”
Design Spot began to lose its Clarks Summit-area focus three decades ago, after Swientisky did a kitchen for one of his cousins in North Caldwell, N.J. The man hired to do the plumbing work on that house admired the cabinetry and retained Swientisky’s services for his kitchen. The contractor that installed the cabinets for the plumber then hired Design Spot to remodel a portion of his house.
“People saw his kitchen. He made some recommendations, and it grew from there,” Swientisky recalled.
As demand for his work increased outside the area, Design Spot’s owner curtailed the services he offered locally. Homebuilding was ended and interior remodeling, outside of kitchens, ceased. Swientisky decided he didn’t want to work as hard as he had during the preceding 50 years.
“I don’t look for work at all and I’m busier than I want to be,” he said. “And it’s all referrals. But I still enjoy it. It’s such a pleasure to work with people and give them more than they expect, and they’re very appreciative of it.”