Interview with Carly Avery of Howard S. Wright, a Balfour Beatty company.
Planning and managing a successful relocation to new offices is a challenging task. At RainMaker Signs we are fortunate to have worked with companies who have navigated this process successfully. It is a privilege to help companies prepare their new offices and facilities with the needs and goals of the organization in mind. Carly Avery, Marketing Project Lead at Howard S. Wright, worked with a "New Home Team" created specifically to plan, manage and support a successful move to new offices at the foot of the Space Needle. (A landmark building built by Howard S. Wright for the 1962 Worlds Fair.) Carly generously agreed to share the Howard S. Wright New Home Team insights, ideas and influences that helped them execute a remarkable relocation.
1. Tell us about Howard S. Wright, a Balfour Beatty company.
With 130 years in business, Howard S. Wright, a Balfour Beatty company (HSW) is one of the oldest General Contractors in the Northwest. HSW is ingrained in the fabric of the Pacific Northwest having built much of Seattle’s skyline including the Space Needle and Monorail, and continues to foster the future with new partnerships such as working with Cornish College of the Arts, to bring a new high-rise student housing complex to downtown.
Howard S. Wright was acquired by Balfour Beatty Construction Services US in 2011, providing the best of both worlds to our clients through the national reach of Balfour Beatty in market expertise aligned with a local commitment to service, sustainability and community. Both companies enjoy a long history providing general contracting, at-risk construction management, and design-build services for a wide variety of markets, serving clients in both the public and private sector. Howard S. Wright operates in the Pacific Northwest with offices in Seattle and Portland. The company serves numerous market sectors including public agency, healthcare, technology, mission critical, education, and multi-family housing. The company has been cited as a Top 10 Domestic Building Contractor and Top 10 Green Builder by Engineering News-Record. The company is part of London-based Balfour Beatty plc (LSE: BBY), a global infrastructure services business operating in more than 80 countries.
2. You recently relocated to new offices in Seattle. Moving an entire office to a new location without interrupting business is a daunting task. What were some of the most important steps you took to make sure the move went smoothly?
Organization was a key element in ensuring this move went smoothly. Our New Home Team met each week leading up to the move to ensure everything was in place and nothing was overlooked. One of the most important items was that everything finished and in place when employees arrived on their first day in the new space. Planning ahead was extremely important as coordination was necessary with a lot of parties including project managers, superintendents, laborers, and vendors. RainMaker was a great partner because they were very flexible with their installation schedule and were able to complete everything on time, including some last minute additions.
3. As one of the oldest continually operating building contractors in the West I am sure you had high standards for your new office location. What were some of the most important criteria in selecting and designing your new offices?
The most important criteria in selecting and designing our office included the following:
- The location had to have a high walk score (mid to upper 90’s)
- Views near and distance - ideally of the city landscape and the environment (water and mountains)
- A property where we could put a thumbprint on the lobby/sidewalk experience
- Roof top deck
- Secure parking for our people and guests
- In an emerging neighborhood
- A single floor plate with natural daylight
- Tall floor to floor
- NOT in a high-rise
- Access to outdoors/green space; we want to have walking meetings outdoors
4. People and relationships are at the heart of company culture. But it is also true that the physical work space has an important influence on the culture, brand and personality of a company. In what ways are you leveraging the Howard S. Wright brand in your new location to continue to support your company culture?
In one word, our new office was developed around connection. From the beginning, we strove to connect the muddy boots and shiny shoes that drive our business. Simply said, we are both, and our office reflects that. Our space promotes connection to the environment, community, wellness, our history, and our vision for the future. It embodies our culture where our people are both challenged and supported. Above all, it is about connection with each other – our people, our clients and our partners.
Elements of connection in our office include:
- Open workstations and multiple collaboration areas provide more ways to connect with coworkers, allowing us to build stronger relationships with each other.
- The technology we feature in our space is representative of the company’s innovation and continual passion to develop new and exciting ideas that help us become more resourceful both in the field and the office.
- A venue for industry events and the groups and charities our people are passionate about.
5. Consideration and care went into choosing exactly the right materials and finishes for your new lobby sign. How do you feel your new lobby sign reflects the qualities of your business and brand?
The lobby sign is one of the first things you see when you enter our new space, so it has to make a strong statement. Our biggest concern was the quality of the materials that would be used when producing the sign. RainMaker offered several material options to choose from which allowed us to get the exact look we wanted for the sign. The final product is successful in representing us as a company and reflects the quality that we put forth towards our projects.
6. How were you able to highlight your company values in your new offices?
The new space is centered on our people. We focused on what our people love and brought those ideas to life in the space. Our office fuels healthy habits. The Core creates a gathering area that begins everyday with an all-office stretch n’ flex and is a place of interaction all day long. Our multi-function Wellness room allows us to catch a quick workout and our gas range and Vitamix provide the opportunity to cook fresh or make a smoothie instead of grabbing a soda. Sail, Climb, and Ride embrace the activities that our people love to do so they became the foundation of our program, as reflected in our conference room names. We wanted this new home to be a place to be, not just a place to work.
7. You added a lot of fun and energy to your meeting rooms. Tell us about how you decided to add the “Talk Talk Talk” and the “Jump Jump Jump” to the meeting room windows?
All of our meeting rooms consist of glass walls, so we had to decide how much privacy was needed for each. For our large conference rooms, we wanted to add something to the walls, but keep the transparency. We came up with the concept to put up well-known quotes relating to the names of the rooms. With the smaller rooms, or “focus rooms”, we needed more privacy so we simply came up with the idea to reverse the treatment so the words were the negative space. For these rooms, we repeated the room names (such as “Talk” and “Jump”) in different sizes for the words. This solution proved to work well as we can still see the rooms in use, but are not able to see details inside.
8. You had floor graphics produced and installed for your move in day. What was the purpose of the floor graphics?
The purpose of the floor graphics are to highlight our company Creed in a subtle and more unique way. The four icons (or pillars as they are referred to) are all placed around the office in specific spots that represent each pillar – Zero Harm, Client Advocacy, Zero Waste, and Employee Inspiration. Initially our plan was to have these icons stained onto the floor, but due to time constraints and miscommunication by another vendor, we needed a last minute solution to get these icons into the space. I emailed RainMaker Signs asking if they could produce temporary floor decals that we could install same-day. We were very pleased with the results. The decals were produced quickly, adhered to the floor, and even though they were originally meant as a temporary solution, they became a permanent fixture and are still part of our space.
9. Tell us about any other personal touches you added to the space to help your employees feel at home in their new space?
One of the items we went back and forth on a lot was a solution for employee names on the workspaces and offices. It was important to us that all employees felt a sense of permanence in their space. We didn’t want something that would look easily removable or replaceable. We finally landed on the idea of vinyl applications applied to each workstation and office. This made each person’s space feel like their own, giving the impression that their name was secured to that spot. With two different types of spaces, we went with two applications. The workstations have silver vinyl on white glass and the offices have frosted vinyl on clear glass. Each name, however, is the same size and type treatment to maintain equality for each employee.
10. Finally, safety is always most important in any work setting. As part of the build-out / remodel process I am sure you needed to pass safety and fire code inspections. What types of communications were required to ensure the safety of your employees?
The emergency evacuation routes are the most helpful when communicating safety to the employees. RainMaker Signs produced several emergency evacuation plaques for us to hang around the office in various locations. We had them produced on metal so they are more durable and stand out on the white walls throughout the space. The plaques turned out great and has sparked interest for similar ideas.
11. How was your experience working with RainMaker Signs? Would you recommend them to other companies relocating to new offices or facilities?
Working with RainMaker was so easy. They were very professional, yet personable with their communications. I had a lot of changes here and there along the way, and they were always able to make edits for me. They were also very timely. Everything I needed was completed on time or before and they are able to turn large projects around quickly which is very helpful. I was never worried that something would not get done. I will, and have, recommended them to others.
12. Howard S. Wright, a Balfour Beatty company is an important company in Seattle and Pacific Northwest history. It would be impossible to live in or visit Seattle without experiencing the important structures built by Howard S. Wright. Where can our readers learn more about your company?
If you would like to know more about Howard S. Wright, a Balfour Beatty company, feel free to visit our website at howardswright.com.
Thank you Carly for taking time to share your success story and congratulation on your new offices! It was a pleasure working with you and helping you and the New Home Team realize the signage, branding and visual communications you needed for your new offices.
Are you opening new offices or planning a relocation? There is a lot to be said about using visual communications to support branding, company culture and productivity in the work space. Learn more about the benefits of work place branding in this Interview with Fast Water Heater CEO, the book Double Double, or this article from the Bellevue Business Journal.
There is always opportunity to learn. Sometimes it helps to look outside your own industry. Pick up a few branding, workplace and marketing tips by checking out our interviews with other RainMaker Signs clients and partners. To learn more about how effective visual communications can help you grow your business and enhance your customers' experience subscribe to our blog.
Do you support companies in relocation or know a company planning new offices or a relocation soon? If so, feel free to share this article using the social share icons at the top of the page or just share a link. It's possible that Howard S. Wright's relocation story offers a valuable insight that can make a difference for someone else.
Let Us Know How We Can Help You
The team at RainMaker Signs believes great visual communications make great things happen, both inside and outside your organization. Our team is ready to help you with lobby signs, frosted window film, window graphics, wall graphics, floor graphics - even parking and evacuation signage. Give us a call at 425-903-3140 or 855-806-7446 or email email@example.com.