IM Creative lured to Columbus by smart, inventive culture
As IM Creative, an event design and production company, began to grow its business, Scott Ihrig, the company co-founder, came to a surprising revelation.
"The most unexpected twist in growing IM Creative was the realization that not all business is good for our business," Ihrig says. "When we started, we took any client we could find. Gradually, we stopped trying to be everything to everyone and we decided to stand for something."
That "something" was the realization that the company needed to be led by smart, creative ideas with a "maniacal" client focus, Ihrig says.
"The day we embraced the truth that we aren't the right agency for everyone was the day we became an extremely valuable partner to those for whom are the right fit," he says.
IM Creative, which started in the Big Apple in 1999, has 12 employees with the intention of hiring four more. The company combines the power of live theater with solid knowledge of business and technology in creating integrated and interactive face-to-face experiences and events with impact.
"Clients who were a good fit respected us for saying we stood for something, . . . and those for whom we weren't a good fit appreciated knowing so early on and allowed us all to move on to bigger and better things," Ihrig says.
Another good fit for the company was moving to the Columbus Region in 2000, even though a majority of IM Creative's clients live elsewhere, including overseas. At times the company has to sell clients on the idea this area is a great locale.
"This region has people with an appreciation for values and culture that other major metropolitan areas don't. That's what we all mean when we talk about Columbus being smart and open," Ihrig says. "Doing business in the Columbus Region doesn't mean guaranteed success, but it does make good on a lofty promise of being intellectually stimulating and open to innovation and approaches to business that are unique and refreshing."
While Ihrig would encourage others to set up shop in the region, he contends they must realize that an address alone will not make a difference. But with an ever-growing and changing landscape that is smart and open at its foundation, there are definite advantages to the area.
"The Columbus Region is not a list of tax incentives, city resources or demographics that are a panacea for a flailing company," he says. "Rather, the region is a fertile ecosystem that can nourish people in a way that's different from any other city, if you are willing to help your people engage with it."
Ihrig expects IM Creative to continue to grow.
"Our growth strategy must be focused on attracting high-level talent to come to Columbus and experience the culture we have to offer, and to give the high-level talent that is here a reason to stay," he says. "We must eradicate the sentiment that it's acceptable for something to be pretty good for Columbus. Too often a philosophy of mediocrity for Columbus is the prevailing one. We must raise our expectations."
TC Brown is a freelance writer.
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