Issue: July/August 2012
2012 Team NEO: Business Retention (Fewer than 100 employees)
Cleveland Research Co. could have moved to New York to be closer to clients. But instead, it stayed right here with a $1.2 million renovation of space in One Cleveland Center.
On the sixth floor of One Cleveland Center, Kim Hutchins looked out over the dark, cramped offices she had grown accustomed to.
Cleveland Research Co., an independent equity research firm, had outgrown its space, and the chief financial officer dreamed of new offices: a 20,000-square-foot loft-style space, where glass instead of walls separated employees, and large floor to ceiling windows provided plenty of natural light.
When Cleveland Research moved into One Cleveland Center in 2006, it had 43 employees. Two years later, when the company was considering the move, there were 56.
Of course, the layout requirements eliminated many buildings downtown. So for two years, Hutchins says, they looked. The search took them from downtown to Beachwood and even New York, where a majority of Cleveland Research’s clients are located. Cleveland Research sends employees back and forth to New York as much as 15 times per week to meet with many of the largest institutional investors in the U.S.
|Winner: City of Cleveland, Greater Cleveland Partnership, Downtown Cleveland Alliance
Project: Cleveland Research Co.
Still, downtown remained a top choice. “But we had a lot of trouble, initially, finding a space that we thought was a good fit for us,” she explains.
During the search, one problem with almost every building in Cleveland persisted — elevator banks in the center of the floor — making the loft-style dream difficult to obtain. In fact, Hutchins felt they were close to running out of options in Cleveland.
But Kevin Schmotzer, of the Cleveland Department of Economic Development, wasn’t about to stop looking. With the help of the Downtown Cleveland Alliance and the Greater Cleveland Partnership, he began locating potential office spaces and providing assistance with grant applications, which resulted in $300,000 in state and city funding.
After two years of searching, Cleveland Research didn’t have to move out of One Cleveland Center, a possibility it hadn’t even considered. With the help of an architect, a $1.2 million renovation transformed the space 21 floors above its original office into the company’s new home.
Rather than loft-style, the space is donut shaped, with the elevator banks located in the middle of the floor. Glass-front offices surround workstations in the center to encourage conversation. The outside light floods in through large windows surrounding the entire office. The vantage point provides a beautiful view, as buildings line up on the shoreline and boats sail by.
Reclaimed wood floors from Akron adorn the large kitchen, encouraging people to talk while sipping espressos. And a new common area has games where employees can unwind.
Visitors are greeted in the lobby by a large mosaic with the letters “CRC” atop Cleveland’s cityscape.
“As soon as we moved up here, the firm seemed to be re-energized,” says Hutchins.
There’s room for growth, too. The company expects to add 30 new employees over the next three years, and the new offices can be a strong recruiting tool.
A majority of the candidates hired to work at Cleveland Research are from the University of Notre Dame and Miami University — recruits whose other options are Chicago or New York. But, instead, they are in Cleveland.
Sean Damer, originally from Indianapolis, returned to the company after an internship and has been with Cleveland Research for two years now. He had considered positions in other cities, including a few banks in Chicago. Damer says he’s “having a blast” in Cleveland and enjoys working at Cleveland Research.
“It’s very young, it’s very energetic, it’s very fast-moving,” he says about the company, adding that none of his friends seem to be working in comparable environments.
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