Behind the Brand
Joseph S. Goode, Managing Partner
7 November 2016
We had a bunch of “must haves” and few “hope to have” items on our list when Mark and I began looking at new office space in December 2015. At the time, it was unclear if we would continue on in our current mode or start a new firm with Jack. What was certain was that our group needed new space for a growing firm; we had a senior attorney sitting in a cubicle, and our lease was up in 2016.
We pursued the normal channels and started looking for a commercial real estate broker to help us. Shortly thereafter, our partner John Flanagan introduced Mark and I to Bill Schwartz, a member of the Milwaukee Redevelopment Commission and a broker well-versed in the commercial real estate market.
At lunch with Bill not long after our introduction, we handed over the proverbial wish list. Having a dog-friendly work environment was vitally important. A location in the Third Ward, while not mandated, was something we really wanted to pursue. Our staff at PADRM loved our space at the Commission House, and it is increasingly the case that the Third Ward is one of the most vibrant and fun places to work in Milwaukee.
The Blank Slate
Not long after our sit-down, Bill called with the “perfect property” in mind. He suggested that we take a look at a building owned by his friend Greg Uhen, an architect and principal at Eppstein Uhen (“EU”) here in Milwaukee. That building was the TimberWorks at 325 E. Chicago, in the heart of the Third Ward. Greg offered up the entire second floor, a 7,100 square foot blank slate of brick, old growth timbers, beautiful plank ceilings and enormous windows. As Mark and I walked back from our visit, he framed our dilemma perfectly: “if that is the worst space we have as an option, we are doing really, really well.” We liked Greg, the space felt just right, and off we went with all of that in mind.
Winter gave way to spring, which we spent “kicking the tires” on other options. But, we could never really shake TimberWorks from our minds. By April, Jack had joined the thinking and we all decided that 325 E. Chicago was the space for us by a large margin. Over beers at Café Benelux, Jack nailed it: “that place just feels like a law firm.” At that moment, new firm in mind, we went from just thinking about it to actively wanting it.
“This will get done. There may be a few assholes and elbows along the way, but it will get done.”
On May 6, 2016, we signed our lease with Greg Uhen’s team. While Greg was optimistic about meeting our August 1 launch date, this was our first build-out and we had no idea if it was feasible. I asked Bill if we were absolutely nuts to think we could accomplish what we needed to by August 1, a mere 87 days later. “This will get done,” he said. “There may be a few assholes and elbows along the way, but it will get done.” Bill was our champion every step of the way.
June 16, 2016
We had 87 days to take an empty rectangle of space and turn it into the offices of a fully-functioning law firm. With zero furniture, no finished site plan, no general contractor in mind, and limited ideas of who would comprise the professional team, off we went.
Greg brought in TRIAD Construction to manage the build-out. We enlisted DigiCorp to handle all the IT, CDI and CBI for the office furniture, Envy Creative to develop the brand, and a host of other vendors to try and pull this off. Jack, Mark, and myself were nervous, convinced we had no chance in hell of opening our doors August 1.
Over the next 87 days, everyone involved moved heaven and earth to get us up and running, not to mention looking good. By the week of July 25, the space started to look like an office. On July 29, the furniture vendors arrived at the crack of dawn and started building out furniture. The movers arrived at our old space that day at noon, and by 5 o’clock that afternoon we were tenants in the 100-year old plus TimberWorks Building, with a dial tone and internet access—the only two things Jack said we really needed to start work.
Thanks to the tireless efforts of every team member at all of the companies and vendors working with us, our incredible staff, our families, and our friends, Laffey, Leitner & Goode LLC opened its doors at 8 a.m. on August 1 ready to work.
The TimberWorks building shares a history common to its brother and sister warehouse spaces in the Third Ward. Built in 1913 by architects R. Messmer & Brothers for the tidy sum of $70,000, TimberWorks originally housed the Standard Bedding Company of Milwaukee. Where once feather beds and pillows were stuffed, sewn, and shipped, now briefs are written, arguments prepared, and strategies conceived.
Once the beating heart of Milwaukee’s manufacturing and warehousing industries, the Third Ward has evolved, reinvented itself really. It remains a place where businesses flourish, now perhaps more than ever. But, more importantly, it has become a vibrant and creative mecca. From renowned architecture firms to innovative creative and technology agencies, from incredible dining to bustling markets, the Third Ward is alive with energy, ideas, art, commerce, and people.
We serve clients all across the country, but make no mistake, we’re a Milwaukee firm. The long road to finding our unique home in this city was as important as any aspect of our brand, of our vision for what Laffey, Leitner & Goode LLC would be. We’re proud to join the many forward-thinking companies that have settled in this fabulous nook. We look forward to growing along with the Ward and seeing what new additions come in the future. Without a doubt, it is a bright one.
Our new space is the perfect home for our firm, in the perfect neighborhood, in the perfect city. From the gorgeous hand-made walnut reception desk and eucalyptus conference table built by our client Nature Tech, LLC, to the steel blue accent wall that greets you from the elevator, every day we are reminded of all of the folks that made this possible. They were all relentless, all inspired, all committed, and entirely authentic. In other words, they were LLG.