When the company was founded in 1979, several big names dominated the industry: Staedtler, Faber-Castell, Koh-I-Noor, to name but a few. These companies were getting too big to provide personalized service to their dealer network and under the motto "Small is Beautiful", Robert de Krieger (until then with Faber-Castell Canada) and Phil Love (Charvoz) decided to reverse the trend. Pi Precision Importing Incorporated opened its doors on September 10, specializing in a full range of drafting instruments and accessories, plus some surveying equipment.

The name was chosen because of the association of the Greek letter pi (π) with the circle and with the above two disciplines. Over the years, as computerization started to take over, other product lines were added to make up for lost sales; in order to better reflect the scope of the company's offerings, a new logo was designed and the company became known as PiCo Design Inc. Artists' Materials, Engineering Filing Equipment, Drafting Vellum, Trimmers, Survey Books and similar lines were gradually added, always with a view to staying within the area of expertise of the established dealer network.