An Inside Look at Cleveland’s Elite Workspaces: Q&A with President of Oswald Companies

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The office is the cornerstone of any business. It’s at the heart of organizational structure, productivity and external branding. JLL’s real estate experts get it. They are committed to securing the very best spaces to fit specific business needs. This is the first post in a series spotlighting a few of our region’s most elite workspaces.

In late 2010, Oswald Cos. approached JLL with a common problem faced by commercial real estate tenants. The Cleveland-based, employee-owned insurance brokerage firm did not have very flexible lease terms, limiting overall growth for the foreseeable future.

Not long after Oswald and JLL started searching the local market, space at 1100 Superior quickly rose to the top of Oswald’s list. The company moved into the spacious, 72,000-square-foot space on Superior Avenue in downtown Cleveland, in time to coincide with its 120-year anniversary in 2013.

OswaldCentreWith a brand new, state-of-the-art conference center, functional, modern design, leading technologies, and huddle rooms for collaborative and creative meetings, Oswald Centre qualifies among Cleveland’s most elite spaces.

Now that Oswald has had time to get comfortable in their new space, we met with company President and COO, David Jacobs, to see how he (and his employees) have adjusted to the new headquarters.

Q&A With Oswald President & COO, David Jacobs

Q: What has the last year been like since the company’s move?

A: Great! Actually, more than great. Our employees saw Oswald’s level of commitment to them. It meant a lot to them to know that they are so valued by the organization that leadership built a better environment specifically with them in mind.

Q: What new amenities do employees enjoy?

A: The building was nice enough to put in a fitness center, and we do allow our employees to use it for free. There is also a sundry shop on the first floor, a marketplace, and a new restaurant that came in from Chicago. It’s mostly nutritious eating, and promotes a healthy lifestyle. As a company, Oswald actively promotes healthy living.  It’s what we promote with our clients, too. Our wellness committee, osWell, has definitely taken advantage of our space through a variety of organized health and fitness-based activities and communications.

In addition to all the amenities within the building, we also now have access to video conferencing that physically connects us with the branch offices much more effectively. Since all the branches have video conferencing as well, they feel a part of the bigger organization.

Oswald-LobbyQ:  How does your new headquarters contribute to company culture?

A: We are very much a collaborative, team-based risk and insurance advisor. This team approach is critical to our people developing the right solutions for our clients.  Our new environment instills collaboration and has that open feeling; enabling all of us to do our jobs better. The new space has been an absolute godsend to our business.

When I walk around the office, I see the common spaces, and white boards, all getting tremendous usage. It’s great to see that level of interaction among employees. I couldn’t be happier with the design of the space. It’s inviting; it’s fresh; it’s bright. The design fits our culture much better than where we came from.

OswaldInterior-conf-centreQ: Do clients come to visit?

A: All the time!

We have the community center [on the first floor] for the benefit of our clients, as well as the community. We’ve had several events where clients came to use the room—even when we weren’t there. That first floor [community center] idea has really come to life.

Q: Do you feel the namesake has improved awareness?

A: It’s even more of a surprise than we thought. At first we wondered: Is it too ostentatious? But, we’ve received nothing but extremely positive feedback. Clients have texted as they flew over Cleveland to tell me that they spotted Oswald and said it looks great. It has really been well received. It just demonstrates to our clients and to Cleveland that we are committed to the city. It has been a lot of fun.

Q: How has the new building impacted recruitment efforts?

A: We try to bring prospective employees, as well as clients, onsite so they see that we are legitimate and we have a very strong foundation. We are a key fabric to the city. We aren’t just your standard office. Oswald has its name on the building and all the amenities. It shows well. From a recruiting standpoint, we want them to see that these guys are for real.

Q: How was your moving experience overall?

A: We were very pleased with the partnership we had with Scott [Pick] and Brian [Conroy]. They really took the time to understand what we’re trying to do. We felt that they did an exceptional job of taking us through the process.

Oswald’s new space was featured in Properties Magazine, and continues to draw attention from the local business community. For more on Oswald’s move to its Superior office location, visit JLL’s full case study

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