THE INNER sanctum
In our second installment of the Inner Sanctum – a series devoted to the unique stories of executive leaders and their private offices – we’ve visited two distinct examples.
One is a well-known economic development organization, the Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP), located in REO Town, just south of downtown Lansing. It is a beautifully rehabbed building that was built in 1918.
The other is a successful, agricultural manufacturing company, Agroliquid, sprawled out amongst the corn fields near St. Johns. The beautiful new building speaks to the mission and values of the company that inhabits it.
Like the previous leaders we interviewed, executives Bob Trezise and Troy Bancroft are proud of their spaces and how they exemplify what their organizations are all about.
President and CEO, LEAP
LEAP is the economic development arm for the city of Lansing and the tri-county area. They are in the business of “selling” the local area to developers and companies who want to expand or relocate to the Greater Lansing region. They arrange financing, scout out the right properties and play matchmaker between the companies and local government leaders.
When you first walk into LEAP’s office, the “urban chic” image of the space is immediate. The open staircase that leads you to the second floor shows off exposed air ducts, brick walls and original hardwood floors. It’s an accessible and friendly environment, right off the bat.
Trezise meets Greater Lansing Business Monthly’s Multimedia Specialist Mary Gajda and I in his office, but he never sits at his desk; he’s a man on the move, showing us what makes his office special as he sits on a couch at a coffee table.
What do you like about your office?
On a weekly basis we have clients and prospects in, from out of the area, to start a decision-making process as to whether to invest in our region. So, when they arrive in our office, they feel good right away. The office is looking like it belongs to a big city. It feels creative, it feels cool, it feels urban.
By the way, the building almost burned down 20 years ago. We know how to do it – to rebuild. They feel it. I don’t have to say it.
The office is a part of our mission and vision. It represents who we’ve become: a global, cool, cosmopolitan environment. We like looking over our shoulders and seeing General Motors making Cadillacs, the bustling riverfront and REO town. The office is fantastic for that – and despite the urban environment, we have free on-site parking.
Did you have a say in the design of the space?
The first thing we did was pull up the carpeting, which immediately transformed the office. The original wood floors are wonderful. Then, we took down the cubicles we wanted an open space. I hired someone to coordinate the color for the office. We have over a dozen skylights which added sunlight to the office.
What personal items to you have in the office?
The BWL power station rebuilding into the Accident Fund downtown was the pinnacle of my career, so I have picture of that. I love Led Zeppelin, so their picture is here. The picture of the elephant was done by one of my daughters. I call that space my wall of serenity.
And of course, I have my MSU wall – mostly basketball.
There’s some original art by a wonderful artist, Mary Gilles. She has a gallery down the street. I find her work intriguing.
How does this office make you a better leader?
Because every one of my employees loves arriving in our office every morning. The office itself makes them feel good. It’s us together with a renewed sense of pride every morning to start the day. We’re proud of our office.
It’s not my personal office. It’s available to the whole staff. They hold many meetings in here, and I just move out to the bullpen. We see it as a communal office. I never want to sit behind a desk.
I’m proud of the office, and it makes me proud of the region.
President and CEO, AgroLiquid
AgroLiquid makes liquid fertilizer for a wide array of plants, and the company feels a fervent desire to promote the rural and agricultural life. They have operations throughout the U.S. as well as in Belize, Canada and Mexico.
Driving up to their newly built (2013) world headquarters, you feel lost in the open fields until, suddenly, the huge building rises from the earth. It’s modern with lots of glass, slanted roofs and creative design elements.
The lobby is large and open with plenty of activity – school kids, an oversized electric train, memorabilia of farms and country life. We are led to Bancroft’s office, a surprisingly small space nestled in the corner of the building’s second floor.
Did you have a hand in designing the office?
I did not design the office. My son in business with me contacted six design firms who interviewed us. We told them what we wanted out of the building. We wanted to embrace and recognize the historic legacy of the agricultural past and look at the nuances of the future in the same way.
If you look at the building’s west side, looking east, it looks nostalgic like an old barn; if you look at the east side, looking west, it looks very progressive – glass and suggestions of the agriculture of tomorrow. That was intentional.