When Tire Discounters, the eighth largest independent and automotive service retailer in the US, decided to create a new consolidated headquarters, they turned to SHP’s workplace studio.
They wanted a contemporary workspace that would facilitate more fluid communication and collaboration across multiple, previously physically disconnected business functions. The end-goal: even better customer service, one of the brand’s hallmarks.
Tire Discounters also wanted to honor its Cincinnati roots — the company was founded there in 1976 and it remains its largest market to this day. So they purchased a 100-year-old, 32,684-square-foot historic building in Cincinnati’s central business district.
Of course, while we were pleased to help Tire Discounters acknowledge its proud past, we were particularly focused on its future — including how the future of work at the 135 retail locations in six states impacts the future of work at their headquarters. With recent technological advancements in the automotive industry, including the rise of autonomous vehicles, Tire Discounters’ customer base and service offerings are in a constant state of evolution. And this has a bearing on work at the main office.
During SHP’s workplace strategy sessions, led by Brady Mick, our director of strategic workplace design, it became clear that innovation would be one of the core design considerations.
“For example, we learned that certain changes in their business might require different approaches to how they sell their services and to whom,” said Brady. Tire Discounter’s record of innovating in a manner that pleases customers — and frustrates their competitors — is one of the reasons the company was named “Tire Dealer of the Year” by Modern Tire Dealer magazine.
SHP and Tire Discounters built on the innovation theme and other concepts and arrived at five key design considerations. From there, design sessions included exploring visual directions and deep conversations around each design driver. These conversations and explorations led to a host of key design elements, most significantly the decision to cut a hole through five floors of the building to insert a custom, six-story floating wood and steel staircase.
“This will truly be the jewel of the new environment,” Brady said. “Symbolically it says to all who work there that they are connected, part of the same brand, the same vision, the same customer-focused team. Practically, it facilitates collaboration and the sort of spontaneous conversations that research has proven to juice innovation.”
Additional Project Features
Overall, Tire Discounters wants their new workspace to feel comfortable not only for the employees who will work there, but store managers who come to visit and the CEOs of the world’s largest tire companies who regularly come in for a meeting. The new headquarters will reflect the Tire Discounters brand throughout and have unique and flexible features:
- An elevator car that was original to the building was salvaged and repurposed as a small group meeting room on the first floor. The elevator shaft was filled in on each of the floors to gain back valuable square footage.
- The majority of the community-type amenity spaces are on the first floor and are not distributed through the building, including a main professional development room, which opens up to a common area with food, beverage and coffee stations, and a formal conference room.
- The first floor is bright, airy, and inviting with no assigned seats; it features a variety of spaces and furniture solutions, which are a free domain for visitors, like store managers, who may need a space to work for the day.
- On each floor, there are spaces designed to flex so that they can either open up the areas for collaboration or close them off if needed. For example, the marketing department may require a higher degree of privacy for something in the early development stages before it’s ready for public consumption.
- The technology department wanted to make sure they had a room where they could recreate the various customer-facing points of sale and interface within a typical store. It will allow them to problem-solve and troubleshoot in the moment, should they get a call from the field.
- The building is on a high-traffic street corner, so connectivity and activation at the street level were essential considerations. Elements of the company’s history, accolades, and recognition will be highlighted throughout and a new six-story mural will be visible to both vehicular and pedestrian traffic throughout the day. The mural takes advantage of an otherwise blank wall that is part of an original egress stair that is held back three feet from an exterior, full-height window wall.