August 2018 and August 2017 are only one year apart, but any Franconian will tell you that they’re quite different times.
In August 2017, we were working in a space across the hall, as our suite was renovated. Still Tower 400, on Floor 10 inside the GMRENCEN, but we might as well have been miles away. We worked out of boxes, packed up all our items at the end of the day and learned the meaning of the word purge the hard way when we liquidated all our non-essential clutter.
Now in August 2018, we work in a beautiful, contemporary office space that was designed with functionality in mind.
We’re always looking to the future as an agency, but as our one-year anniversary of moving into our renovated space comes up on Sept. 18, we’re taking a stroll down memory lane to commemorate the office.
Why It Was Necessary
We love being a part of the thriving Detroit business community, and our location inside the GMRENCEN couldn’t be better. Our space itself was not as simple, as we had irregular sections of cubicles spread throughout the office, team members in different areas – we weren’t using the space to the best of its ability.
Not only that, but Franco rebranded in 2016. Our brand was new, fresh and bold – full of forward motion and opportunity. Our old space didn’t reflect that. We needed a space that mirrored our agency identity, energy and culture.
The renovation was spearheaded by Senior Vice President Tina Benvenuti Sullivan and Account Executive Rachel Burnard, and supported by dPOP, a local agency that creates workplaces with culture in mind. Before ground was even broken, Tina, Rachel and the dPOP team dedicated time to surveying Franconians on what they wanted in the office, and how that could be integrated into the design.
The idea was to create a space that encapsulated who we were as an agency – modern, technical, detail-oriented and full of history.
We got rid of cubicles in favor of an open workspace – team members now have streamlined desk space with less partitions to encourage creativity and connectivity. Each person has a PED, a movable storage device, instead of traditional office drawers, too. Now we move desks every few months to refresh our thinking and only have to take our handy PEDs and computers. After living in this space for more than a year now, we’ve discovered our desk space is a perfect middle ground – everyone has their own dedicated area, but it’s very open and flexible to encourage communication and collaboration.
“I love the new office space. The open atmosphere, with natural light at almost every workspace and music playing throughout makes it a very comfortable setting to work in. We have many more collaboration spaces than in the old space and the ability to easily change work locations is a definite plus over being tied to traditional cubes. The design of the new office inherently encourages everyone to get to know their colleagues which helps us to really live our values of not only being a team, but also a family,” said Joe Ferlito, account manager.
Everyone knows that Detroit inspires us, but we decided to take our love for the city a step further. Our new conference room, affectionately called Skyline, has Detroit’s skyline wrapped around its walls. Detroit’s skyline from 1964, the year Franco was founded, is superimposed on top of that skyline to show the city’s strength and change. One of our smaller conference rooms is also warmheartedly called DIM, short for #DetroitInspiresMe.
Speaking of 1964, the renovation team also knew that the new office should honor Franco’s history and might. When you first walk into our new space you can spot Tony Franco, our founder, watching over us from the lobby. A casual new meeting space, called 1964, celebrates our achievement as the longest-standing public relations firm in Detroit.
“The new space is a collaboration of every Franco employees’ vision. Everyone was asked what was important to them in the new office and the renovated space brings all of those requests together. The 1960s “Mad Men” theme comes through in every piece, big and small,” said Rachel Burnard, account executive.
The renovation team also took great care in cataloging and archiving industry articles from Tony Franco’s time as CEO, as well as history under current CEO Dan Ponder’s leadership. We have articles highlighting key points industry history throughout the office – from Tony Franco’s spaghetti and clam sauce recipe in the kitchen, to social media faux-antique placards on the walls.
“The new office space really ties together our history and values by allowing us to showcase where we’ve been and how we will move forward. The ability for us to move away from our desks for an impromptu meeting or a change of scenery really helps foster creativity and collaboration. With the open floor plan and our various teams sitting amongst each other, it’s helped the entire agency have a better understanding of the great work we’re doing and has really opened up conversation with cross-team members for some incredibly creative ideas. There is an amazing attention to detail to bring the brand to life in every corner,” said Ann Marie Fortunate, account manager.
Everything in this office was selected with a specific intention in mind, whether it be representative of our brand, core values, history or commitment to Detroit. We couldn’t ask for a better physical transformation that reflects our transformation as an agency.
We also couldn’t be prouder of this renovation, and love showing it off! Let us know below if you would like to tour the space or learn more about our renovation process.
Dana Blankenship is an assistant account executive at Franco. Contact her at [email protected] or @danablankenship.