Office Space: Civitas Marketing Grows in the Smith Bros. Building

Chloe Teasley
Clean and Concrete: The shiny concrete floor is a major plus for founder and CEO Jacob Taylor, who says that barely anything already existing in the space inside the Smith Bros. Hardware building was changed.

When Civitas recently moved into the Smith Bros. Building, the experiential marketing firm doubled its staff to fill its new roomier quarters. Founder and CEO Jacob Taylor says he likes the shiny concrete floors and exposed brick—and that “it was the only place in town where we could get 9,000 square feet with a storefront and an underground parking garage.”

The location is a big change for staffers. Previously, they occupied a 1,800-square-foot basement office with no parking. Also adding to the change are the new space’s high ceilings, sparse decorations and light gray paint. Together, they make the first-floor-location feel even bigger. 

Civitas has added little touches to personalize the space. There is a “hall-of-fame” wall that reminds employees of memorable campaigns that Civitas—who was acquired by Louisville ad agency  Scopecchio—has done before. Directly across from the hall of fame is an old set of wooden bleachers—complete with the stickers put there by its original users. Taylor says the bleachers are from a central Ohio junior high school. They are used for meetings.

“We tried to find a manifestation of something that everyone would be attracted to, that everyone knew how to sit on,” he says. “One of my pipe dreams was to be able to pull in a real, vintage set of bleachers. … We mimicked Civitas as a high school logo [above them].”

The kitchen that is near the bleachers is a standard—with a huge, blown-up picture of a surfer on the back wall that has a good story behind it. Taylor says when Civitas was doing a campaign for outdoor retailer R.E.I.’s Cleveland store opening, the plan was to do a beach “takeover” at Edgewater Beach. Sometimes, the weather is right for an experiential marketing event—but sometimes it isn’t. The day they chose happened to be 20 degrees. Despite the cold weather, Taylor watched a man with a surf board walk down to the water’s edge. “I [asked him], ‘Are you really going to surf?’ He looked at me—and he was this old, 85-year-old guy—and he said, ‘Yeah.’ ” Taylor was inspired. “If I could be this guy when I am 85-years-old, we’d be lucky,” Taylor says. Now, the man is immortalized with pictures in the kitchen and in Taylor’s office. 

The workspace is large, open and collaborative. “We definitely are a younger crowd. … All the spaces have been ‘collab’ spaces [for us],” Taylor says. Taylor’s space, however, may have gotten a bit less collaborative, a big change for him. Many people gave him thoughts on what his private office should look like or have in it. In the end, he went with a glass front office with a propped-open door. It has a cool couch, a TV on wheels and a table in the corner that serves as Taylor’s desk.

“This is the first time I’ve had an office like this,” he explains. “I worked at a big table for so long—I’m a startup guy.”

He likes to conduct a more informal meeting in his office, using the couch and TV to make prospective clients feel comfortable and at ease. Although the office represents a big change for Taylor, he is enjoying the adventure of company growth.

“It’s fun to be at this level,” he says. 

Civitas Marketing

580 N. 4th St.