The lighting is better. And we’re not necessarily talking about LED bulbs. Landing a coveted corner location of a building brings two exterior walls. In this office, that means large windows and plenty of sunlight.
The location works in many other ways, too. It’s not just in Westfield, but the heart of Westfield. Right by the train station — if a quick trip is needed — and in walking distance to too many restaurants and coffee shops to count.
These are just some of the reasons the partners at Mercury, a public affairs firm that has been growing in size and stature for some time, were so eager to show off their new location during an open house Wednesday night.
The office, at 1 Elm St., has two conference rooms and three offices (all of which have glass walls from the floor to the ceiling), a sit-down break room and an open floor plan that can comfortably seat two dozen associates in the middle of the bullpen-type room.
More than anything, the three partners who run the New Jersey office said, the 4,609-square-foot space they moved into over the summer is just a more dynamic place to be.
“It might sound basic, but it’s just more fun,” Mike DuHaime said. “People want to be here more. All three of us want to be here more. And we’re finding clients want to be here more, too.
“They are just starting to drop in more now, especially the local ones. And that’s great.”
ROI-NJ sat down with DuHaime, Michael Soliman and Mo Butler to talk about the firm — and how they feel the new digs represent the growth of the group.
ROI-NJ: Let’s start big picture. What does moving from your previous location (in a less-coveted spot in Westfield) mean for Mercury?
Mike DuHaime: I think it’s really like a physical manifestation of the growth we’ve had here that you now can see visually. When we started, it was two people and a little office. We kept growing and kept hiring good people like Mo Butler and Mike Soliman — and their ability to do good work for clients meant that we needed more space and more support staff.
This space will allow us to keep growing, and that’s really a key. When we hire, we hire organically. We don’t say, ‘We’re going to hire X amount of people this month or this year.’ We look around and, when we find good people, we want to bring them in and put them to work right away. This space will enable us to do that for the next few years.
ROI: Let’s talk hiring. Attraction and retention are buzzwords in the business community now. How is this office impacting that aspect of your business?
Mo Butler: People want to be in a cool work environment. They also want the amenity of being able to walk to restaurants and walk to a local coffee shop. They want to feel like they’re part of the community where they work, and we have that now.
You hear that a lot with millennials, and that’s proven true, but you also see Wall Street firms moving in that direction now, because they have to compete with folks out in Silicon Valley. We feel like we have the best of both worlds. We’re in Westfield, so we have a small, tight-knit community that we get to be a part of and we also get to have a work environment that’s truly collaborative.
That will help with attraction. And retention. And not just with employees, with clients, too.
ROI: Attracting employees is great — attracting clients is even better. How will this space help in that regard?
Michael Soliman: It starts with having a cool place that’s state-of-the-art in terms of having a modern look. That enables us to have more meetings here. Clients will want to be here, whether it means coming in to talk about a crisis management issue or just to meet and talk strategy. This is now a place where we can bring them and talk and then go across the street and grab coffee or have lunch.
Having the downtown feel of Westfield, but, at the same time, having a location that’s very conducive to running a business, is immense.
And this open approach, which was made famous by Mike Bloomberg and New York City Hall, really works. We already can see how it is helping us serve our clients better. What we find now is that folks who are working on different clients start collaborating, sharing ideas, talking about it. So, it’s conducive to conversation, as opposed to everyone being separated, which is what most traditional offices are. In this case, you have people talking across each other, running an idea by each other, strategizing together.
ROI: Last question. Mercury could have moved to one of the state’s major cities: Newark, Jersey City, Trenton. You opted to stay in one of the state’s great small towns — and in the downtown area of that small town. What was the thinking behind that?
MD: We looked at moving into an office park, and it would have been a little cheaper, but I think we wanted to stay in a downtown. We’ve always had a small business feel. Even though we’re part of a larger company, we very much feel we’re a mom-and-pop small business. We get that here.
You saw that tonight: The mayor’s here, four or five council people are here, the local assemblyman is here, the business guy across the hall is here. It’s just nice to have those connections. When we walk around town, we know people and we are part of the community here, which is great.