As we finish up renovations throughout the office, some may be wondering – what was it like before the motivating wall murals? Before the snack pantry, Big Poppa, or the sparkling Bevi machine? Before the crisp new carpet and the spacious, open environment?
When Dennis Johnson (DJ) began his journey with Strong Automotive Merchandising over 40 years ago, he didn’t have his own office. In fact, he barely had a desk. The first office the company had was on the 2nd floor of Eastwood Mall, which has since been demolished. There were limited offices available, and when DJ was hired as a writer, the only desk that remained was for a receptionist. So, he answered the phones and wrote commercials.
Over time, the business grew. Several relocations were necessary to accommodate the ever-growing number of employees. When Strong moved to its current building, the eye was on expanding, even though the company only took up one quadrant of the second floor. With the rise of digital media and other services, one quadrant expanded to two and then to three.
The building was owned before by Saunders Trucking, which influenced the unusual design. “They say if you get straight up above it, it resembles a big semi truck. You can see the wheel in the design, that’s what the round design is about,” he said.
What’s more unique is the atmosphere that has been created inside the walls. “In every office space I’ve been in, I would say the same thing – the Strong family has always created a very conducive work environment. If anything was broken, it was always fixed. If anything was dirty, it was always cleaned. The only red we ever had in the office was a stoplight, but it was always on green. For a while, every time we got a new client, we would put that light on green and it would stay that way all the time,” he said.
Our office space allows for efficiency while also catering to the needs of the different departments. Quieter spaces are achieved for more autonomous work, but the open environment can breed collaboration. “I think they’ve always tried to provide an environment where everyone is comfortable. They have always been sensitive to what everybody needs while keeping it looking sharp,” said DJ.
The old offices used to not allow visitors without an appointment or invitation. But now, many days on the calendar are booked with out of town visitors and representatives. “We have the philosophy that even though this is an office, it’s also our home. If someone’s parents or friends came to town and wanted to see where you work, you’d be more than proud to take them around,” he said.
“The one thing that keeps you coming back is that there is excitement in everything that we do. We’re always right on the edge of something great, and constantly moving forward. We’re ahead of that curve because we have really good people at the helm, predominantly John Paul,” DJ said. “Back then, there were a lot of other good agencies in town that did the same things we did. But despite their great success, there are many names that nobody here would recognize today.” Over the years, there were several automotive agencies across the country. Most have closed their doors because they did not adapt to market changes.
Because of DJ’s many years of experience with Mike and John Paul Strong, he can confidently say that Strong Automotive Merchandising and its offices constantly breed success. “The apple didn’t fall far from the tree. It grew a new apple tree, and it was even bigger,” he said.