Meet Sandi Jacobs
Region: Bay Area/Northern California
Industry: Interior Design
Success with Vistage
- Gained the confidence to buy the company from retiring owner
- Transformed the culture by empowering employees to take ownership of their roles and projects
- Has maintained 15 years of $50 million in revenues
- Has become one of the top companies in the industry, known for personalized service and a deep understanding of client needs
“When I talk to potential Vistage members, I tell them there’s no other place in my life where people don’t have an agenda. My Vistage team helps me push the envelope and come up with ideas, so that you can figure out what you really want as a business owner.”– Sandi Jacobs, President, SideMark
Sandi Jacobs joined office interiors design firm SideMark when it was just starting out. She spent the next 25 years helping to turn the $1 million Santa Clara-based business into a $50 million powerhouse.
By the time she was named president in 2008, she had taken ownership as a leader, building a tight-knit culture, securing big-name clients and consistently bringing in $50 million in revenues. Despite her passionate leadership, the future of the company was unclear. Sandi was the next logical successor to SideMark when the owner retired, but she lacked the confidence to make the leap to ownership.
Feeling at a standstill, she brought the issue up to her Vistage group.
Sandi credits Vistage with helping her get past her fears by putting together a think tank to challenge her beliefs about ownership. For every doubt Sandi had, her Vistage team pushed back, and “they just kept pushing,” she says.
At one point during a Vistage meeting, Vistage Chair Sheri Benjamin — who Sandi says is a big part of the reason she now owns SideMark — suggested she turn around and listen to feedback from her fellow members without looking at them. That exercise was instrumental in helping Sandi envision herself buying the company and truly believing that she could be a business owner, not just a leader.
“My Vistage team helped me get out of my own way and not feel limited. They pushed me to think about what I wanted. I went from limiting belief to endless possibilities. I remember where we were when that clicked — the exact table I was sitting at, and the Vistage members looking at me.”
With her newfound confidence, Sandi took her proposal to buy the business to the current owner; within two months, she officially owned Sidemark. Her dual role as owner and CEO gave her a renewed perspective on her purpose and allowed her to take the company to new heights.
She focused on building an even stronger team that can respond creatively to the changing corporate landscape and the way people interact with their workspaces. Just as her Vistage team helped her get out of her own way, she has built a culture that allows her employees to shine.
Sandi also introduced profit sharing and went open-book with the finances. Her dedication to leadership and service knows no bounds: “The most gratifying part is when we’re at our best, we’re such a high functioning team; there is a camaraderie, and everybody has everybody else’s back. That’s something we build on purpose.”