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Fire Pits, Barcade Earn "Coolest Office" Bragging Rights for GMR Global HQ

When we featured several Milwaukee-area offices on our website last fall, there was none that was more popular than GMR Marketing. The sports marketing firm's global headquarters contains everything from a "barcade" (mix of bar and arcade) to a recording studio that hosts national music acts. See the attached slideshow for photos of the firm's office space.

The office is a fun mix of memorabilia, games and open space. Large mannequins appear to be bungee-jumping off one of the floors.

"Our goal is to create an environment that stokes the creativity and passions that our clients know us for — a place that people genuinely love coming back to everyday," said Gary Reynolds, chairman of GMR Marketing.

Those features helped the office win a designation as one of Milwaukee's Coolest Offices by the Milwaukee Business Journal. GMR Marketing is one of 10 firms that have earned that designation in the newspaper's awards program. The winners will be featured on the Milwaukee Business Journal's website over the next two weeks, and in our April 24 weekly edition.

I had a chance to learn more about the space and the entertaining that goes on from Reynolds during an interview last fall.



 Q: How important is the look of your office to your company's image?

A: "The look of GMR's offices is incredibly important. We're constantly adapting our space to better reflect our company's diversity, culture and the evolving interests of our employees and clients. In our business it's not just about having a space that is efficient for overall operations. Our goal is to create an environment that stokes the creativity and passions that our clients know us for — a place that people genuinely love coming back to everyday."

Q: Talk about some of the decisions you made to put in the features, such as the barcade and fire pits.

A: "Bringing people together is in our blood as an agency. It's an art and science that we've been perfecting for 35 years now. While it's something that we do for clients all over the world, we believe that it has to start at home. We've created a number of spaces where people can congregate, whether it's to relax or change up the scenery of a typical meeting.

"Our people have access to everything from outside patios, fire pits and a cabana, to a fully stocked bar and arcade. It helps us keep things fun and interesting."

Q: How has the look of the office helped in recruiting and retaining employees?

A: "The environment that we've created has no doubt had an impact on our ability to recruit and retain employees. In fact, our people enjoy it so much that it's not uncommon to see them inviting friends and family over just to see it. While we're really focused on training and career development as drivers of recruitment and retention, the environment certainly doesn't hurt."

 Q: What are some of the events you have hosted in the recording studio (Improv)?

A: "GMR has an ongoing series of celebrities, artists and bands coming through the office to speak and perform. Just (last fall) chef Robert Irvine came in and did a live, interactive cooking demonstration for the office. Beyond that, we've hosted everyone from Cheap Trick, Luke Bryan, The Goo Goo Dolls and Matt Kenseth to Dana White, the founder of UFC."

Q: Any fun stories?

A: "Our office is bordered on one end by a large retention pond. A number of years ago, well into a party that we were hosting at the office, a group of our employees thought it would be a good idea to go for a swim and hold a kayak race. I may or may not have been part of that group.

"We've also done a lot of fun things to make our clients feel at home. We recently welcomed a new liquor client by transforming our office into a South Beach nightclub, complete with live music and all of the supporting elements.

"We did something similar with Weber last year by inviting employees to bring their Weber grills to work and hosting a gigantic cookout on one of our patios. Similarly, we once welcomed an airline client by staging a ground crew to 'land' them in the parking lot and a gate agent to welcome them to the building. For as hard as we work, we have a lot of fun along the way."

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