Look around your office. Does it need a refresh? Is that scraggly potted plant in the corner not exactly doing it for you? Well, imagine having the ability to completely redesign your company’s workspace from scratch. That’s precisely what Laura Menninger, creative director at Thruline Marketing, got the opportunity to do when the company rebranded last year.
Menninger will be the first to tell you she did a lot with a little. It must have paid off
because the Kansas City Business Journal just awarded Thruline Marketing the winner of their Coolest Office Spaces contest. Menninger was thrilled—given the competition. Round after round, Thruline advanced until their grand prize win. How did Menninger and her motley crew pull it off? “Rebranding is no easy task. It takes a village—a team of crazy talented people—to come up with a successful brand like Thruline,” says Menninger. “It was fun. It was exhausting. I drank more coffee and wine in that nine months or so that I have in my whole adult life,” she laughs. “And I’d do it all over again if I had to.”
Because Thruline’s clientele are primarily colleges and universities, Menninger ran with a book motif. “We are in the business of education marketing, so ‘Thruline’ seemed like the perfect fit. In a nutshell, we help students, schools and employers get from one point to another, reaching their goals along the way,” says Menninger. “And if you look at our logo, it looks like book spines lined up and also stepping stones or a pathway from one point to another.”
Wide-open, functional, yet playful spaces offered plenty of breathing room for employees to get down to business and still put their feet up. And, naturally, a theme was mandatory. “Kansas City pride has blown up and we are proud to work here in KC and even more so at Thruline,” says Menninger. “So the thought was to combine the two together. Each conference room is KC-themed. We have the ‘Metro’, the ‘Plaza’, ‘Union Station’, ‘Downtown’ and my favorite, ‘Crossroads.’ Our breakroom—the ‘Boulevard’—is basically the hangout for everyone after lunch. Pool table, ping pong, Xbox and 90-inch TV. Plus—score!—free snacks and our fridge is stocked with Boulevard beer on the daily.”
One of the biggest challenges in creating Thruline’s space was to combine two giant floors of a building and consolidate to merely one. Good thing people play well together at this marketing firm. “One of our goals was to increase collaboration, so there were several walls that came down to open up the space to create a more open concept,” says Menninger. “Our conference rooms are more unique, with glass ‘walls’, or no walls at all in some cases. It’s created an environment that has already proven increased synergy and employee satisfaction.”
Many employees are digging their new digs—and rightfully so. “We went from teams separated into different rooms, to groups situated in six-person cubes to the open concept we have now. I asked my team about this and they love how it has brought everyone together, fostered communication and created friendships that may not have existed otherwise,” says Allen Harkleroad, a 13-year veteran of the company. “When you add to that a cool, modern design with custom artwork by the talented artists we have here, you get a place that feels like you’re hanging out with your friends when you’re working. I’m glad I’ve been around to see it become what it has.”
The team at Thruline certainly does a good job high-fiving each other about their new digs. Check out their Instagram page for some more amazingly inspiring office shots. Menninger, meanwhile, is overdue for a vacation, but alas—it’s not in the cards. She’s already commissioned several other companies who covet her mad-crazy design skills for their office space. Want her to design a mural for your company? You’ll have to wait. Seems she’s even commissioned a few businesses chomping at the bit to have her create wall art for them. Is she tired? “Tired? Ha! I have four kids, a husband, work full-time here, run marathons, operate side businesses painting murals, doing graphic design and interior design. I’ll sleep when I die,” says Menninger. “Put a Starbucks coffee in my hand and bring on the work, honey!”