“Look at this. Downtown. Floor-to-ceiling windows. The river. The natural light. Cream City brick. The timbers. I love it all.”
With that, Greg Nickerson begins a tour of the new headquarters being built for Bader Rutter. The business marketing firm will occupy the lower two floors and part of the third floor of the former Laacke & Joys Co. building along the Milwaukee River at 1433 N. Water St.
Wangard Partners Inc. is redeveloping the five-story Milwaukee building in a $31 million project. The general contractor for the site is J.H. Findorff & Son Inc., and the space is being designed by Plunkett Raysich Architects.
Nickerson, who is Bader Rutter’s chief executive officer, decided last year to leave the tranquil comforts of the Bishop’s Woods office park in Brookfield. One of the perks of working in Bishop’s Woods is seeing the herd of deer that frolic on the grounds.
At Bader Rutter’s new 60,000-square-foot headquarters, the employees will be more likely to bump into a Milwaukee Buck.
“We made the decision to bring Bader Rutter back downtown for one overriding reason: We were searching for a great experience for our people and our clients. Simple as that. Downtown offered the best opportunity to create that kind of memorable experience,” Nickerson said.
Ron Bader founded the company in downtown Milwaukee along Van Buren St. in 1974 before moving the firm to Brookfield in 1979.
Bader Rutter plans to move into its new digs, featuring open and collaborative work space, on April 24.
I assigned Nickerson a C-Level homework assignment to explain the top eight reasons he decided to move Bader Rutter back to downtown Milwaukee. Here they are:
Timing. “As we neared the end of our lease, we began exploring options that made the most sense for our growing agency. We looked at buildings and spaces that were both in Milwaukee and suburban areas. After three years of searching, the site on Water Street surfaced. It is a perfect fit for our culture and space needs.”
The Milwaukee River. “If we were going to move 230 people and all the effort that goes with that, we wanted it to be to a signature building and location. This site gives us that. A major component of our new space is the view. From a rooftop deck to the Riverwalk outside the building, we are eager to do our work with the cityscape all around us. And, locating on the river means there likely will be a boat in our future to spur creative thinking.”
The creative row. “The creative class of Milwaukee is an important asset that is putting us on the map. As our creative force grows and other businesses continue to relocate to Milwaukee, Water Street has become a long row of advertising services and the suppliers they partner with. From (United) Adworkers events to a happy hour with industry colleagues, our new building joins the hub for the creative class.”
The neighborhood. “From fast, easy lunches to after-work drinks with colleagues, we’re centered in activity. For our teams, this vibrancy is essential. Our new workplace is near the new Milwaukee Bucks arena and the entertainment district they are building. Also nearby are parks, downtown recreation, bicycle rental hubs, bus stops, campuses and Milwaukee’s theater district. And, for clients traveling in or our employees who live outside the state, we will be closer to the airport as well as the train station.”
New building, new habits. “We’re truly embracing change at Bader Rutter. With a new building, we are structuring our space in more contemporary ways for our teams. We’re building very open work spaces, large casual gathering spaces and mixing formal work meeting rooms with multiple soft seating areas and even a fireplace.”
New partners. “Moving has also given us new features of our work life to consider. Coffee is an essential element of marketing and advertising. Creative minds work all hours. We’ve partnered with Stone Creek Coffee. They’re working with us to help add life to our new cafe.”
New business. “While we are the largest integrated marketing/advertising agency in Wisconsin, we continue to grow. Acquiring new clients means we need the best and brightest talent that our market offers. This is true of the clients we are pursuing, too. When a prospective employee or client steps foot into our space, they are going to be wowed.”
Milwaukee’s brand. “Milwaukee has become a city to notice. And because it is our headquarters city, we want to contribute to that momentum. The BR brand is closely linked to the success of the Milwaukee brand. The only way to continue to thrive as a business leader in Milwaukee, however, is to invest in its community as well.”