By: Sean Ryan of the Milwaukee Business Journal – February 20, 2017
Scott Bucher, president of communications firm Traction Factory, remembers his first visit to the 1920s-era Milwaukee building that has now become the company’s home.
Bucher was scouting the downtown area for a new office because the firm had outgrown its space at 735 W. Wisconsin Ave. in downtown Milwaukee. He searched all options, including downtown’s newest office towers.
Then his broker, with a warning that it wasn’t much to look at, asked him to tour the Walker’s Point building at 247 S. Water St. It had only three windows, all on its first floor, and was originally built for the Pittsburgh Plate Glass business. Bucher liked it off the bat. The renovation project that followed transformed the industrial box of a structure into a well-lit, modern office with several historic touches echoing Milwaukee’s manufacturing past.
“We had an opportunity in transitioning to Walker’s Point to basically start with a clean sheet of paper,” Bucher said.
The project involved punching 17 holes in the outer walls so windows are visible from every workspace. A second-floor deck was added overlooking the river. New communication and information technology systems were wired into the building. Traction Factory hired Walker’s Point business Scathain LLC to make custom furniture.
The office space has room for about 44 workers, giving the 26-person firm room to grow long term. The firm has done communication work for Snap-on Tools, Toyota Material Handling USA and other companies, and sponsored a Global Rallycross car, as evidenced by a racing car hood near its employee kitchen area.
The office project cost more than the standard market rental rates would usually demand, but it offered the chance to design a building that would represent the brand, Bucher said. The up-and-coming Walker’s Point neighborhood, with its long history with companies like Allen-Bradley, also represents the sort of creativity the firm wants associated with its image, he said.
“I wanted it to reflect our vision and to make it very clear at a glance, for purposes of business development, for purposes of employee retention and recruitment,” he said of the new space.
Scathain created more than 60 pieces for furniture and artwork for the building. It took about two-and-a-half months to actually make the pieces, said Sharon Celek Kevil, Scathain director of sales. They have what Kevil called a “refined industrial” look.
The work includes custom-made tables and wall hangings, and several pieces made with reclaimed wood. The Traction Factory’s first-floor conference room table, for example, is made of reclaimed and refinished wood from the Pabst Brewing Co. campus in Milwaukee.
Original article and slideshow can be located here.