Both the HQ and new innovation center add touches that recognize the role people have played in making the 63-year-old company successful.
Worthington Industries only has one renovation under its belt. When it moved into its current space, it merely spruced up the leased building. Eventually, in 2016, Worthington Industries purchased the 200 West Old Wilson Bridge Road property and renovated it, along with a property down the street, which became an innovation center.
Some of the objectives of the HQ renovation include modernization and letting more light in.
“When we made that purchase we decided we really wanted the environment to reflect who we are at Worthington and how we operate,” says Sonya Higginbotham, Worthington’s vice president of corporate communications and brand management. “I love the modern feel of it. It brightens your day,” she adds.
The most important aspect of the renovation, she says, was making the buildings reflect the value the company places on its people. People are what have made Worthington successful, says Higginbotham. Throughout the spaces, photography depicting employees can be seen.
Worthington blue is everywhere. Higginbotham says that she thinks blue was probably Founder John H. McConnell’s favorite color. Now, it is synonymous with the manufacturing company. “We say we have ‘blue blood,’ ” she explains.
The HQ comes with a café and patio, a barbershop (there has always been one inside Worthington Industries) and a gym with a surprisingly comprehensive collection of equipment. Employees can grab a haircut for $8 or squeeze in a workout—along with equipment, an assortment of classes are offered.
Down the street, the innovation center stands near a manufacturing plant in an office park. It is used for such things as market research, new product development and training. Just inside, the company’s first rolling mill, considered McConnell’s first innovation that helped him find a niche in the steel industry, stands proudly. It provides a theme for the building. The outside is nondescript, but in the room where the action occurs, a giant mural takes over a wall. The artist based out of New York City, Shantell Martin, free-handed the entire thing. It is a drawing of faces and other items that look like thick black sharpie on the white wall. In the mural are depictions of every innovation Worthington Industries has dreamed up over its 63 years—such as a profit-sharing plan from 1966 and a beer keg design the company no longer manufactures. The people, dispersed throughout, are the ones responsible for the innovations. Although Worthington Industries has always had innovation in its blood, “[We] really trying to bring a disciplined approach around it,” with the center, says Higgenbotham.