How OwnLocal's new office was custom built for — and by — the team

Kelly Jackson

When OwnLocal’s Angelek Marler said she and her fellow employees put their blood, sweat and tears into their new office — she wasn’t kidding.

“There wasn’t a lot of time to move in,” said Marler, an employee experience manager. “We had to scramble to get in here, so we ended up laying the carpet ourselves. We painted the walls and built the acoustic panels and stage all by ourselves.”

The digital advertising startup previously operated out of Capital Factory’s 16th floor space before relocating to a space of their own at 205 W. 9th Street in January.

At the time, even CEO and co-founder Lloyd Armbrust could be found sanding down and cutting lumber for an in-office stage that now hosts guest speakers and live music.

“[Armbrust] cares so much about this company and always says ‘There’s a reason we haven’t sold this place yet,’” said Marler. “He’s interested in building an environment where people have the ability to come in, learn, grow and take ownership. And he wanted to make sure he could curate that space for people to do so.”

Today, OwnLocal's expanding team of 70 takes up two floors, with plans to take over a third. And so far, they’ve settled in nicely.

Employees sit in an open office layout with conference rooms lining the back walls. For Armbrust, the open layout was a must.

“The way I come to the table is we’re not going to have offices; they are stupid,” said Armbrust. “The separation and the privilege that comes with private offices I find unacceptable, and I don’t ever want to have that.”

Rather than spending money on individual offices, Armbrust instead directed the money into state-of-the-art conference rooms with floor-to-ceiling artwork from local artist Mike Johnston. Throughout the office, you’ll also see pieces from another local artist, Jake Bryer.

“I try to spend money efficiently and on things that matter,” said Armbrust. “The details matter.”

Fun fact: Each conference room is nicknamed. The team wanted fun places to say they were meeting up at. These include “Therapy,” “Cloud,” and “Banana Stand,” a tip of the hat to Arrested Development.

Overall, Marler said employees have embraced the space since moving in.

“It was such a team effort to get in here,” said Marler. “We had two empty floor plans and we’d have people here who would give up their weekends to come cut lumber and paint. It’s nice to have our own space, and it feels really honest and hard fought.”

Within the company's physical spaces, that sense of camaraderie manifests as something tangible. Take, for instance, the company's new office kitchen and eating area. With lunch catered daily, Marler said she had thought employees would just grab a plate and return to work at their desk. Instead, the opposite is true.

“When we were at Capital Factory, I was in charge of ordering food,” Marler said. “We always ate together there because there was a risk of running out of food. But now we’re here, that risk is no longer prevalent, and yet everyone still eats together, every day. I think that if people want to organically be together then that’s a reflection of our core values.”

Armbrust agreed.

“There are a lot of things in this space that represent our people’s efforts,” said Armbrust. “I have a lot of pride in our people and this office speaks about who we are.”

Images provided by OwnLocal.

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