It’s startling to believe our first lease is already up. The past three years have gone by in the proverbial blink. While I initially struggled against moving out of my home office, it didn’t take long for 401 Hall to feel like the next best thing to my cozy basement digs.
It was certainly a lot more professional to invite clients to a traditional office setting for meetings and workshops. We have maintained the tradition of our annual summer “strategic planning” session (aka cookout, pool party and client appreciation) at our home, but for the most part, there’s been a brighter line between home and office for the past three years.
We considered staying put, reupping for another three or more years. Our current landlord has made significant investments in the building since we moved in in January 2016. Building-wide Wi-Fi, enhanced security, better lighting and some nice cosmetic touches have made 401 Hall an exceptional “first office.” Free and plentiful parking and our just-south-of-downtown location made me think twice about moving.
But when all six of us are trying to pitch the media, counsel clients or collaborate on a project, the open office floor plan we all initially admired proved to be a challenge. So we set about looking at other options that met our more informed criteria: A few additional walls, some quiet space for thinking or phone calls, something closer to downtown so the team could find lunch without driving.
The market for office space is a bit tighter today than it was in 2015. That’s great news for the West Michigan economy, which seems to be firing on all cylinders these days. But it’s challenging for small businesses who want to be part of the action with a downtown address. Parking is the perennial problem – and one of the first things we inquired about when looking at new offices.
Our search was punctuated by the single most hectic year-end of my career. Starting in late October, the team and I swung from issue to crisis to challenge and back to crisis over and over again, which made setting and keeping real estate appointments near impossible. Add to that a broker who disappeared after we made our selection but before we signed our letter of intent and, well, it wasn’t the easiest process.
I’m grateful for the support of our ever-expanding village – Hillary Taatjes-Woznick of NAI Wisinski stepped in and helped us work through the LOI and lease in record time. Rachel Foster of Warner Norcross + Judd made time in her own busy year-end tally of projects to guide us on our lease. The always cheery and oh-so-talented Glenn Medendorp and his team at GHM Painting transformed very beige walls into the SPR brand the day after Christmas when so many were still celebrating.
I’m indebted to our wonderful team, Brian Greenleaf, Katelyn Crain, Lisa Levandoski, Brianna Peña and Chiara Licari for their patience, good humor and help packing. Lisa, Bri and Chiara were indispensable on Friday, working through client issues in the morning before swapping keyboards for bubble wrap, Sharpies and packing tape.
A special shout out to Reuben VanderZwaag at EMTech Services, who gives me the courage to manage our server on my own but is never far away when I invariably need help – as I did this morning shutting down.
Three capable, fast and sturdy young men from Two Men & a Truck again reinforce why the Lansing-based company is my go-to for all our moves. Not only were they early, all the boxes were loaded within an hour – and no complaints about the disassembly of our somewhat head-scratching desks. Their cheeriness is matched only by their speed.
The three years we have been tucked into 401 Hall St. SW have been good ones, both personally and professionally. We’ve attracted new clients, tackled new projects and enhanced our service offerings. We’ve gotten some exceptional at-bats with marquee names in our community. We’ve grown more than 20 percent, adding new team members to meet increased demand.
We’ve had our share of mistakes and missed opportunities, but from this vantage point, they are minor in comparison with the great work our team does, each and every day, for clients small and large.
The new year will bring with it a new address and, no doubt, lots of new challenges I have yet to envision from this vantage point. It also brings a renewed commitment, from all of us at Sabo PR, to provide wise counsel, outstanding work product and exceptional client service to our current and future clients.
Eighty minutes have passed since I began writing this blog. The movers just came for my chair – and then my desk. I’m cross-legged on the floor looking at an office that no longer feels like mine, ready to pack up the server (thanks, Reuben, for remotely powering down) and head to our new home at 100 Grandville Ave. SW and begin the process in reverse.
If your travels bring you our way, stop up and see us in Suite 301. We’re slated to welcome our first guest on Monday at 11. I pray I can find the teaspoons by that point.
A happy New Year to you and yours. May 2019 bring all your heart desires topped with extra helpings of kindness and grace.