The move into the space came after the marketing company operated out of a home with six remote staff members.
Smart1 Marketing is a little hard to find—but if you do, you’ll step into a warm, rustic space with a family feel. It has been lovingly dubbed “The Barn,” and jokingly dubbed “The Amish Google.” (The founders don’t like that name as much.) The space is tucked back into Ohio Mulch’s land off Reynoldsburg-New Albany Road, and the one small sign denoting the office location is a little difficult to read. Founder Sara Cordle jokes that they’ll hire anyone who can find the place without needing extra directions.
Smart1 began in a home in 2009. It moved to its current space after its client Ohio Mulch approached co-founders Cordle and Todd Swickard and offered them the floor above its stone yard office.
“He drove me here and I said, ‘There’s absolutely no way,’ when I first walked in,” says Cordle. But post-tour, she found herself warming up to the idea. Cordle, Swickard and their team of six planned the renovations themselves over pizza and beer one night. Today, the office occupies two floors (it was originally one) and has a specific look to go with its nickname. $1.5 million in renovations later, walls don slats of recycled cypress; lights in Smart1 blue brighten things up; the floor of the main workspace is marbled blue, white and gray epoxy; and one row of desks is given a little height with some steps and athletic flair with green turf. “We tried to find materials that aren’t the standard office materials,” says Swickard. Upstairs, the conference room also has a sports theme. The Buckeye Room is decked out wall-to-wall with Ohio State colors and memorabilia. When they expanded, Swickard and Cordle kept this room the way it was. Now, the office houses about 24 people. Although Smart1’s space was doubled, the electric bill only went up about 20 percent due to energy-saving lights.
The family feel of the office begins with marketing employees and extends to those who help clean it. Although she is retired now, Ms. Pauline cleaned it for years. Now 83, office staff take her out for her birthday each year, and she is commemorated on the Smart1 wall. Mr. Paul, who has since passed away, was also a member of the Smart1 family as much as he was its handyman. Because there is nothing to eat nearby, lunch is provided every day for the entire office when they aren’t having a potluck or cooking out. The building backs up into a wildlife sanctuary, so Smart1 has an upstairs deck and a downstairs patio that is frequently used for parties, laptop work and monthly potlucks and cookouts. “It’s beautiful during the seasons to just go outside and watch the snow fall or the leaves bloom,” says Cordle.
Sometimes though, the wildlife can become a nuisance.
“One Saturday I came in and there’s a turkey standing in front of the door,” says Swickard. “I’m like, ‘OK, I know I shouldn’t be working on Saturdays but you can move.’ I heard turkeys are mean so I’m in my car honking the horn and flashing the lights.”
Chloe Teasley is staff writer.