Creative Visionary

Written by Lindsey Osborne

Photography by Edward Badham

When you have some of the brightest minds in the business gathering each day in your office, you need your space to inspire them. That’s the primary mission behind the offices at Strong Automotive Merchandising. Bursting with bright colors, geometric shapes, and an innovative, circular design, their workspace is the perfect place to get juices flowing and magic happening. “We wanted an environment that could complement the weird layout and also spark creativity and a sense of enjoyment for our employees,” says owner John Paul Strong. “Vivid and bright colors adorn the walls, giving the office a stimulating Feng shui. We pride ourselves on delivering perfection for our dealers at a moment’s notice, and to do so, we work at a very fast pace. The colors, graffiti, and accents all lend a hand to this fast-paced work environment, almost like a subliminal motivator.”

_EBV4204One of the most important factors for the team at Strong—a full-service ad agency that focuses on car dealerships across the nation—is collaboration. They’ve been in their current building for six years, but in February, they expanded to an additional space to accommodate the growth they experienced in recent years. The addition created 28 additional workspaces and room to add 15 more. “We had several people doubled up in offices and were creating workspaces in hallways due to the tremendous growth of the company in 2015,” Strong explains. “Our new space is an open-concept plan allowing for group collaboration, which also minimizes isolation. Our center conference room has been dubbed ‘American Graffiti’ and features one of the smartest TVs I’ve ever met, bright red carpet, funky lights, and a circular shape. There are also smart lights that adjust with the mood of the day. Our break rooms aren’t bad either. All feature flat screen TVs, fridges, popcorn and ice machines, fully stocked pantries, and much more.”

Strong explains that the fun environment makes for happy employees, which in turn is good for the company. But beyond that, their space signals something to their clients: they’re not afraid to be different. In their world, it’s the thinking outside the box that delivers results to their clients, and they wanted a space that showcased their ability to do that. “Plain and simple: We aren’t a traditional agency or business. We’re a progressive agency always embracing and staying on top of future trends,” Strong says. “We wanted a design that was more representative of our employees. We work in a creative industry and the walls show that, but the walls only go so deep. It’s our employees who really make the work environment fun and non-traditional. The space is just a complement to our broad spectrum of personalities.”

_EBV4559For construction of the new space, Strong turned to Tim Coker at CPM as project manager and Mike Painter of Watson Bruhn as superintendent. Many elements in the space were designed by Haley Treadaway at Black Design Architecture, with whom Strong Automotive has a history. “She has a finger on the pulse of Strong and never ceases to amaze us with her ideas,” Strong says.

Visit Strong Automotive and you’ll see people working hard together to create concepts that drive their industry; in the end, their office space is simply a reflection of the creativity and dedication that each of the Strong employees pours into his or her work. “Most people’s first impression of our space is, ‘Whoa, this is crazy!’ but that’s the name of our game,” Strong says. “We’re passionate about our work, our dealers, and most importantly, our employees. I think our space encompasses all of this. It’s provocative and groundbreaking in a sense that traditional offices will never understand.”