Renovated Kimball HQ inspires collaborationDecember 18, 2019
By ALLEN LAMAN
JASPER — When Tim Cassidy wandered through the sleek, newly renovated Kimball International corporate headquarters campus on Tuesday, he popped his head into the room that formerly housed his office.
Except it wasn’t an office anymore. There were exercise balls, and dumbbells and gym mats. The paneled walls and drop ceiling that he’d known had given way to a spongy floor beneath a bright, open-air workout space.
“This blows me away, really,” Cassidy said, analyzing the facility with a smile.
Many felt the same Tuesday night, when Kimball International hosted a Holiday Open House at its recently revamped headquarters, located on Royal Street in Jasper.
The party unveiled to the public what 180 employees have basked in for seven weeks: A modern, working showroom loaded with hardwood floors, skylights and amenities designed to show off Kimball’s brands while maximizing employee productivity and retention.
“I would be very surprised if there’s any place in Indiana that looks this good,” Bob Schneider, former Kimball International chairman and CEO, said shortly after a Jasper Chamber of Commerce ribbon-cutting ceremony at the event.
The unveiling was three years in the making. Wendy Murray, director of marketing and product development at Kimball, explained that when Kimball Electronics split from the company, Kimball International wanted to create a space that would also house its design and research center, as well as its brands — National Office Furniture and Kimball Hospitality.
“One of the things with the Kimball brand that we really, really wanted to do was create a culture that people could really collaborate [in],” Murray said while standing inside what the company calls a makerspace, or a room designed for group product design and research. “We have a lot of spaces throughout the building where everyone can collaborate.”
It puts the company’s product in motion, she said. All the furniture in the building is manufactured by Kimball.
The structure’s old design was darker and walled-off. Now, it invites interaction — from a lounge-esque gathering section with a pool table and jukebox to a gaping reception area that welcomes guests to a towering bookshelf and sprawling countertop.
“The whole culture, already, feels like it has changed,” Murray said. “We were so segmented and so apart. And now the collaboration and being able to be with everyone has made a huge difference.”
The building is WELL certified, meaning it is “all about the people,” Murray explained. In addition to the open spaces, white noise plays through the structure, natural light is highlighted, healthy food and drinks are served, and the exercise facilities in place are available for use throughout the day.
“There are studies that your retention rate for your employees is a lot higher with this WELL certification,” Murray said. The Kimball headquarters is the only workplace in the area that has received the certification.
“In the design, one of the important things was designing a space that we could attract new, young talent to the area,” said Kimball Marketing Director Becky Schneider.
She later continued: “Creating a space like this really aids us in being able to be marketable and compete with companies outside in the bigger metropolitan area, and bringing in that talent.”
Kristie Juster, Kimball International CEO, said the space is an “incredible example of how we view this business now.”
“Our purpose statement around Kimball International is ‘dare to be the makers of possibility,’” she said. “And this space exhibits that in everything that it brings.”
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