The company founders decided to leave Downtown Columbus for the small-town vibe.
It’s not every day a company chooses to leave a Downtown location in favor of a spot like Johnstown. But that is exactly what Crow Works did, and it isn’t looking back.
The furniture design and manufacturing company wanted to be closer to its manufacturing facility in Killbuck, which is about an hour away from its new Johnstown location. It also needed more space for new employees. The team looked in New Albany, Westerville, Gahanna, Granville and Newark. Some of those places were just a little bit too far to make sense, although they offered an architectural style that founder Dennis Blankemeyer says speaks to them—“That old kind of industrial architecture.”Stay up to date with the region’s movers and shakers, top employers, philanthropic causes, real estate developments and thriving creative and startup scenes. Subscribe to Columbus CEO’s weekly newsletter.
One huge plus of the Johnstown location is the park next door with a bike path. Blankemeyer says he and co-founder Denise Blankemeyer intend to provide employees with bikes so they can take advantage.
“It's been fun seeing team members going across the street to the antique stores and just kind of exploring the little downtown area. It’s quaint,” says Denise. “Everybody has a sense of home here and community, versus even Downtown [Columbus], with all the hustle and bustle. It’s just a different feel.”
The space is also much cheaper and comes with a free, private lot—another two big perks.
The building was formerly a bank downstairs and apartments upstairs, but you wouldn’t know it—except for the vault.
Now, the downstairs is a sunny room with minimal color and lots of warm wood. Gone are the teller stations and offices sectioned off with glass. Instead, the desks are arranged in an open concept space. Privacy is offered through a series of small phone rooms around the corner, adjacent to a sink with a coffeemaker and mugs.
Upstairs, a very Instagrammable space is set up to entertain or meet, complete with a series of potted plants and a brown and white cowhide rug. Against a wall is a gleaming shuffleboard table. Denise and Dennis decided they wanted one for their house, so they manufactured it. Eventually, people began asking to purchase them. Obviously, most of the office furniture is Crow Works.
Some employees sit in a room surrounded by loft-like white-painted brick and exposed wooden beams. The building was built around 1915.
“They were really rough,” says Dennis. “They had crappy drop ceilings so you didn’t know what was above. We looked at it and were like, this is a little bit of a hidden gem. I figured if we cleaned up, got the ceiling down and started pulling plaster, we’d see exposed brick.”
The Blankemeyers and their team are loving the feel of Johnstown. Dennis and Denise themselves grew up in a very small town.
“Yeah, we're just about community,” Dennis says. “A small town speaks to us.”
Chloe Teasley is staff writer for Columbus CEO.