Tag Archives: B2B

Batten Trailer Leasing Inc.

October 20, 2017 by
Photography by Ariel Fried

This sponsored content appeared in the Fall 2017 edition of B2B. To view, click here: https://issuu.com/omahapublications/docs/bb1117_final_flipbook/44

Having grown up in nearby Valley, Nebraska, it made sense for Blaine Batten to start Batten Trailer Leasing Inc. in Omaha more than 30 years ago.

“My dad has spent nearly his entire career in the Omaha area,” says Blaine’s daughter, Ashley Batten, who is the business’ general manager. “It just seemed like a natural fit to start the business here when he knew the local market and had a solid network established.”

Batten’s business involves leasing a variety of different types and sizes of semi-trailers. They primarily lease to other businesses with access to semi-trucks, which are required to pull all of their trailers.

Being agile and continuously looking ahead and evolving have allowed Batten Trailer Leasing to grow and flourish over the course of its existence.

“We are so busy during the summer months— renting trailers to hold products, equipment, or staging for events like the College World Series, U.S. Olympic Swim Trials, and Berkshire Hathaway shareholders’ meeting—that we are routinely completely out of stock,” Ashley says.

4511 S. 67th St. Omaha, NE 68117



American Legacy Complex

October 13, 2017 by
Photography by Provided

This sponsored content appeared in the Fall 2017 edition of B2B. To view, click here: https://issuu.com/omahapublications/docs/bb1117_final_flipbook/44

Interaction with horses can bolster empathy and cognitive abilities in children, and there is no denying the appeal horses have to kids and adults. For nearly 20 years, American Legacy Complex has offered children the opportunity to interact with horses in a positive environment.

Owner Dorothy Turley attributes this success to their youth programs. “We give city kids the opportunity to learn about horses,” she says.



7193 County Road 40
Omaha, NE 68122


September 29, 2017 by
Photography by Katie Anderson

This sponsored content appeared in the Fall 2017 edition of B2B. To view, click here: https://issuu.com/omahapublications/docs/bb1117_final_flipbook/42

Steamatic of Omaha owner Bret Burianek earned his first paycheck from Steamatic when he was 10 years old. His parents, Bud and Arlene, owned the Omaha Steamatic franchise then, and Bret “earned money by doing little things around the shop.” Now the owner of this legacy business, he’s joined by his sister Becky Canaday, who serves as the office manager.

What started as a carpet cleaning business evolved over the years into a company that also offers restoration services and helps clients reclaim a sense of order and cleanliness after a devastating event such as a fire, flood, or mold infestation. Their carpet cleaning continues to impress customers, but Steamatic’s ability to restore after disaster is what puts this company in a more elite category than other carpet cleaners in the Omaha area.

Steamatic of Omaha has the distinction of being the oldest franchise in the entire Steamatic franchise system. Opened on July 1, 1968, by Burianek’s parents, Steamatic of Omaha is looking forward to celebrating their 50th anniversary in business next year. “We’ve been there for fires, floods—you name it,” says Burianek. “We’ve had a lot of different projects over the years.” They were involved in the restoration and clean-up after the devastating tornado of 1975 hit Omaha. More recently, Steamatic helped restore and clean the condos next door to M’s Pub after the 2016 explosion and fire. They have not only watched Omaha change over the years, they’ve also been there to help pick up the pieces when disaster strikes.

The weather doesn’t stop them, nor does the time of day (or night). “We’re on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year,” says Burianek. He added that while they may not necessarily like getting calls at 2 a.m., “customer service means doing what we promise.” Customers rely on Steamatic to always answer the call, whether it comes in at 2 a.m. or during regular business hours. Customers praise Burianek’s team for having the ability to seemingly erase the signs of damage caused by disasters and to restore worn, soiled carpets to pristine condition.

For nearly 50 years, that promise has meant that no matter what time it is and no matter what the temperature outside, Steamatic will be there and ready to help. Burianek stresses the importance of taking care of customers and credits that high standard for his company’s long history of success. “For any service company, taking care of customers should be their primary goal,” he says, offering valuable advice as a successful business owner.

Burianek envisions a bright future for his company. “Hopefully, we’ll continue to grow,” he says. Undoubtedly, they’ll continue to grow by delivering on the promises they make to their customers, because that’s what Steamatic of Omaha has always done. Burianek admits that the dynamics of owning a business have changed over the years, but his customer service model has not.

8834 Washington Circle Omaha, NE 68127



Omaha Magazine

September 22, 2017 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

This sponsored content appeared in the Fall 2017 edition of B2B. To view, click here: https://issuu.com/omahapublications/docs/bb1117_final_flipbook/40

Omaha is about the larger community—the artists, the businesspeople, the philanthropists, the families. Omaha Magazine publisher Todd Lemke truly believes this, which is why the company motto is “It’s About All of Us.”

The magazine celebrates 35 years of production in 2018. Lemke began the company in 1983, two years after graduating from UNL with a degree in journalism, with the purchase of an alternative newspaper called City Slicker. He turned the publication into a “slicker,” transitioning it immediately into a four-color glossy magazine. Upon discovering that advertisers wanted to appeal to people “past the party age,” he transitioned City Slicker into a free magazine titled Omaha Today.

Lemke wanted to continue growing, and his next move, in 1987, was to purchase a monthly publication titled Our City, which listed local places to shop, eat, and be entertained—an ideal publication to place in hotels around our city.

By this time, Lemke’s friend Greg Bruns began working with him in advertising sales. Bruns, having difficulty selling for a rather generically-named publication, asked Lemke to think about changing the name of Our City. That thought became a reality in 1989 when the preferred name, Omaha Magazine, became available.

There has been an Omaha Magazine in the area since 1890, but in the late 1980s, the registration on the name lapsed, and Lemke grabbed the chance to gain the perfect name for the company while merging his two publications.

Others believed Omaha Magazine to be the perfect name for the company, also. With a less generic name, the sales staff was able to increase revenue, which resulted in more content for the magazine. The editorial staff used the extra room to print profiles of people and more in-depth features about the community.

Along the way, the family-owned company has retained a family-friendly atmosphere. At least four employees currently hold the last name Lemke—brother Tyler, niece Sarah, nephew Alex, and Todd’s mother, Gwen. Many children of the employees have held summer jobs or internships, even becoming full-time employees themselves.

Today, nearly 30 employees adhere to the company’s core values of community, respect, passion, integrity, creativity, and excellence—driven by the desire to tell the best stories
in Omaha. 

And it does. The magazine has won several awards for staffers’ work, most recently the 2017 Magazine Photographer of the Year award, won by creative director Bill Sitzmann from the Great Plains Journalism Awards. Sitzmann nearly swept the magazine photography award categories at the event in Oklahoma. Art director Matt Wieczorek translated the magazine’s logo into the Omaha language for a cover that was a finalist for Best Magazine Cover, a special issue that also won finalist for its multimedia project on the Omaha language. Current executive editor Doug Meigs won Best Magazine News Writing in that same awards show for a multi-part series, “Dying for Opaites in Omaha” and was a finalist with his article “Gone Girls: Human Trafficking in
the Heartland.”

“We are a read, not a flip,” Lemke says. “We are a rare combination of informative, entertaining material, great design, and incredible photography. Because of that, we have a highly educated reader.”

Those readers include everyone from millennials to members of the greatest generation. Each issue brings readers people profiles, arts and culture stories, food-related reports, multiple event calendars, home articles, and unique features.

“It’s about all of us,” Lemke reiterates.

5921 S. 118th Circle
Omaha, NE 68137


September 15, 2017 by
Photography by Katie Anderson

This sponsored content appeared in the Fall 2017 edition of B2B. To view, click here: https://issuu.com/omahapublications/docs/bb1117_final_flipbook/40

Today’s technology isn’t just complicated…it’s integrated. Phone systems are connected to video systems, which are connected to networks that are connected to copiers and printers, and so on. Updating one portion of technology is neither simple nor an isolated event.

Marco specializes in business IT. They know how things work and how things connect to
one another.

They’ve come a long way since opening their doors as a small typewriter shop back in 1973. That’s because technology has come a long way. Through the years, they’ve adapted to changes in the industry by listening to what their customers want, and being the first to implement new and better solutions. To do that, they’ve hired smart people who are driven to learn and understand emerging technology and how it can
improve business.

Today, Marco is one of the top five technology providers in the nation, serving customers nationally with core offices in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and here in Omaha. Over half of their 1,100 employees are certified systems engineers and technical representatives. That means they maintain the highest level of certifications for their area of expertise.

Though their footprint continues to grow, they are adamant about providing premium local support. Customers who call an assigned Marco support team talk with people who know their business and its nuances, not a room full of strangers in a call center a thousand miles away. The Omaha team members have an average tenure of 15 years. That kind of local experience can be a game-changer when dealing with technology issues.

It’s also important to know the ins and outs of IT, especially with today’s integrated technology. Marco’s Managed IT Services help businesses proactively manage their IT infrastructure so there’s less network down time—and all of the systems and programs connected to that network work together more effectively. They work as an extension of customers’ IT staff to manage the day-to-day maintenance and support responsibilities. That allows the customer’s IT staff to spend time on more important things.

In addition to managed IT services, Marco offers carrier and cloud services, phone and voice systems, audio and video systems, and copiers and printers. In fact, Marco is one of the largest Konica Minolta and Sharp dealers—and HP’s largest independent dealer—in the U.S.

Beyond all of their expertise and many certifications, the thing that sets Marco apart the most is their positive culture. They are consistently named a top workplace by local and national organizations for being a fun and friendly place to work, a good corporate citizen, and a
caring employer.

The best part about having a positive culture is that it translates to great service. Ninety-two percent of their customers say they would recommend Marco. This culture of service is also one of the reasons they’ve received Omaha Magazine’s Best of B2B™ 12 years in a row.

7929 West Center Road
Omaha, NE 68124

Elman Print

September 8, 2017 by
Photography by Katie Anderson

This sponsored content appeared in the Fall 2017 edition of B2B. To view, click here: https://issuu.com/omahapublications/docs/bb1117_final_flipbook/38

Mark Elman is direct when explaining how Elman Print has managed to be successful for more than 40 years in the printing business. “It wasn’t me or my parents that made us successful,” he said. “It was our fantastic clients and dedicated employees.”

Elman’s parents, Dick and Alice, started Elman Print in 1977. Mark joined the company in 1991 and purchased it in 1995 when his parents retired. The company began in a 3,000-square foot building at 27th and Leavenworth streets. “We had seven employees total and we were bumping into each other,” Elman remembers. In 2001, they built a 10,000-square foot building, and they moved into a 24,500-square foot building in 2011. This time, they purchased adjacent land, so when the time comes for further expansion they are ready for it.

Elman Print boasts many longtime clients. “We have dozens of accounts that were with us when I took over in 1995,” says Elman. “Our goal is to keep a customer forever as a valued business partner.” Customers remain loyal because of the great service, high quality printing and ever-expanding services. Elman staff  keep a close eye on the quality of products by producing projects in-house. “That lets us maintain the quality our clients expect as well as maintain the control of deadlines which must be met,” he said.

Things run smoothly at Elman Print because of the team-oriented feeling fostered throughout the company. “Everyone works together.  We’re like family,” says Elman. 

“I love our staff, I pray for them and our customers every week at church.”

The culture of the company is one of hard work and teamwork. “The younger staff members rely on the veterans to show them the way we like things done here,” said Elman. “We have a great mix of seasoned and younger staff and they all work together with the common goal of making our clients look great.” We recently celebrated our first employee with 40 years of service. “When we hire a great employee, we don’t want to let them leave.”

Elman Print continues to add services and capabilities as printing technologies evolve. Their customer base stretches from the Omaha metro across the country. “We partner with financial institutions, universities, marketing firms as well as large and small companies. “We handle direct mail campaigns including mailing services, annual reports, marketing materials, and invitation packages—if it’s on paper we can make it work,” says Elman. “We strive daily to meet and exceed quality expectations and delivery times.”

The printing business has changed dramatically since Elman Print first opened their doors, but they are dedicated to staying ahead of these innovations and seeking out better processes.  Elman admits that running a successful business isn’t always simple, “But when it comes down to it, nothing beats hard work.” Elman leads by example and the team reciprocates with dedication and willingness to put in the same effort day in and day out.

Hard work and appreciated employees combined with satisfied clients equal success for this
Omaha mainstay.

6210 S. 118th St.
Omaha, NE 68137

The Centennials

September 4, 2017 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Pop quiz: From the following options, which is the oldest? a) sliced bread, b) Betty White, c) NP Dodge Real Estate, or d) traffic signals? Time’s up. Pencils down. Those who answered a, b, or d, sorry but those options are incorrect—do not pass go, do not collect $200. While NP Dodge’s founding in 1855 predates many marvels of the modern world, Omaha is actually home to more than 40 companies that have passed the centennial mark.

Gone are the cobblestone streets (save for a few in the Old Market) and telegrams of yesteryear, but these businesses are here to stay, serving as the base of a mid-sized, Midwestern metropolis thriving in the 21st century. This is made all the more impressive considering these companies have survived industry-changing technological advancements, social and economic shifts, a Great Depression, and a Great Recession. But Omaha’s oldest institutions aren’t keeling over anytime soon if they have anything to say about it.

“We learned a long time ago that we’re completely tied to the health of this community,” says Nate Dodge, president of NP Dodge. “By doing everything we can to help Omaha grow and succeed, we ensure our longevity as well.”

Like many of the companies in Omaha’s century club, NP Dodge started from humble beginnings. America’s longest-running, family-owned, full-service real-estate company, NP Dodge was founded by two brothers, Grenville and Nathan Phillips Dodge, who left Massachusetts to homestead in Douglas County in 1853. The company was born from a tiny office in Council Bluffs, with the brothers surveying land in the metro area to determine where property boundaries began and ended.

Two centuries later, the company employs more than 500 real estate agents and has been led by five generations of Dodges. According to the current Dodge at the helm of this massive real-estate ship, keeping it all in the family is not what has helped them stay afloat for so many years.

“It all ties back to the customer and how we can support the community in time, talent, and treasure,” Dodge says. “I believe the company has evolved and changed with the customer. [People] that work here focus on how we can best serve and exceed expectations in that given time.”

NP Dodge has evolved internally as well. It boasts an impressive number of women in leadership with 65 percent of all managerial roles belonging to women. Additionally, the company has continually made efforts to create transparency from top to bottom.

“I believe great ideas survive great debate, so we make leadership as accessible as it can be,”
Dodge says.

Another company that stakes its success in their ability to be proactive, not reactive, is Aradius Group, formerly Omaha Print. Founded in 1858 as the publisher of a now defunct tabloid, The Nebraska Republican, the company has grown into a full-service marketing agency and printer. Name it and they do it, including creative work, design, sales, scheduling, client services, and press work.

“We couldn’t continue doing business as we had always done in the past,“ says Steve Hayes, CEO. “Being just print didn’t give us the opportunity to grow. We needed to re-evaluate ourselves and expand services to remain relevant to customers.“

They did just that two years ago when they bought a full-service ad agency in Lincoln. With an expanded arsenal of services came a new name, and Omaha Print officially rebranded to
Aradius Group.

“We quickly realized that marketing ourselves as Omaha Print was not conveying the level of work we are now able to offer,“ Hayes says. “We grew up on print, we believe in the power of print, but we now communicate with prospects and clients in a multitude of different ways.“

The new name is a geometry-inspired metaphor, as a radius leads you to the center of a circle, just as the marketing company is at the center of their customers’ successes. Additionally, the spokes of a wheel are radiuses; thus, the new name reflects the fact that they can now offer clients an entire wheelhouse of marketing services.

Due to their continual evolution, Aradius still works with many of the same clients its founders did in the 1800s, including the State of Nebraska, Union Pacific, and First National Bank.

“We like to say we’re a two-year company with a 159-year background,“ Hayes says. “Omaha Print has really grown and progressed on parallel with Omaha.“

The Byron Reed Co., a property management firm founded in 1856, has also evolved with the city. What started as a small real-estate and land-development agency—one responsible for the original survey of Omaha and the creation of many of today’s subdivisions—is now a company that specializes in property management and investments. Its current portfolio consists of apartments, warehouses, office buildings, and commercial strip centers.

While the company’s progression has helped keep it competitive, president R. Michael Alt credits his employees for the firm’s longtime success.

“In the management business, God’s in the details,” Alt says. “Our employees have to like people, pay attention to detail, and enjoy the business while being knowledgeable of the industry and how it’s changing with time.”

 Take one look at these three Midwest companies, each remaining titans of their respective industries, and see three success stories, each due to their employees’ willingness to adapt to the times.

“Instead of being reactive to what is changing, you need to be a part of the moving tide—a piece of what the industry is changing to,” Hayes says.

Visit npdodge.com, aradiusgroup.com, and byronreedcompany.com for more information.

This article published in the Fall 2017 edition of B2B.

Martin Hager, vice president of agency services at Aradius, leads a group discussion.

Ciaccio Roofing

September 1, 2017 by
Photography by Katie Anderson

This sponsored content appeared in the Fall 2017 edition of B2B. To view, click here: https://issuu.com/omahapublications/docs/bb1117_final_flipbook/38

Integrity—doing what’s right by standing behind your work, product, and people—is what has always driven Pete Ciaccio and Ciaccio Roofing.

It’s a hallmark of doing business he witnessed as a youngster in the work of his parents, Ben and Mary, who owned and operated their business for decades.

“They had their own answering service—Telephone Secretarial of Omaha—and because it operated 24 hours a day, they worked a lot,” he says. “I watched them take great pride in what they did, and they always did it with integrity. I always do the same with my business dealings.”

Deciding to go into the roofing business instead of taking over his parents’ company, Ciaccio has been involved with repairing and replacing roofs for more than 30 years.

He actually got his start working with his father-in-law in the four corners that connect Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota.

Living in Omaha and driving to and from Luverne, Minnesota (the company headquarters), weekly took its toll physically on Ciaccio’s body, so he convinced his father-in-law to join him and a new partner in his own venture in the Omaha area.

Ciaccio Roofing was born.     

Pete and his staff of 26-30 members (depending on the season) work predominantly on flat and metal roofs—mostly for commercial and industrial businesses—and they specialize in repairing and replacing. They also work on shingle roofs.

“We don’t chase the shingle market, but we will do them after storms when the demand is high,” he says. “But our bread-and-butter are flat roofs. It’s what sets us apart from everyone else.”

What also makes Ciaccio Roofing special in the roofing market is its commitment to being consistently responsive to client requests after work is complete—night or day, rain or shine (or snow).

Honoring their work and accepting responsibility when things go wrong or need to be fixed is something Ciaccio has always put first in his business transactions.

It’s a reflection of his commitment to his clients and his desire to honor his family name, strong work ethic, and integrity.

“Owning your own business has its challenges, but the rewards of working for yourself outweigh them,” Ciaccio says. “I just enjoy helping people find solutions to whatever their problems might be. Plus, we have clients all over the country, so I like the opportunity to see the United States.”

A very personable guy, Ciaccio says he enjoys the selling part of his business the most. It’s what built the business and continues to move it forward.

But running a business doesn’t always allow the time to do that—so he puts that social part of his personality to work in relating to, and dealing with, clients.

“I like building and maintaining relationships with clients and knowing that we have given them peace of mind in a job well done,” he said. “We have great employee loyalty and that’s because we treat each other well and that carries over to our clients. We take care of each other—that’s always our goal.”

4420 Izard St.
Omaha NE 68131

Fair Deal Village MarketPlace

August 23, 2017 by
Photography by Sarah Lemke

As a child, Terri Sanders visited the original Fair Deal Cafe on 24th Street with her father to eat breakfast or lunch, and experience a vibrant North Omaha.

Sanders says the cafe, known from the ’40s to ’70s as Omaha’s “Black City Hall,” was a popular meeting spot for politicians and local African-American leaders.

Now community leaders say the Fair Deal Village MarketPlace, a recently completed $2.4 million economic development project built on the footprint of the café, will increase commuter traffic and dramatically change the North 24th Street business corridor.

“The businesses are successful, and again—it’s a revitalization,” says Sanders, 59, a member of the Omaha Economic Development Corp. and the development’s site manager. “You never return to what it was, but you can certainly revitalize it and go forward into the future.”

OEDC partnered with Omaha-based architecture firm Alley Poyner Macchietto for the project, which was built between March 22 and Dec. 3, 2016. OEDC is a nonprofit that benefits North Omaha, which has a history of poverty and other socio-economic hardships.

Officials also are branding the development, located at 2118 N. 24th St., as an entertainment and arts district. In addition to a reinvented Fair Deal Cafe, the development includes the Fair Deal Grocery Market and eight Omaha-based artisanal businesses. The grocery store, which focuses on healthy foods, is open seven days a week, and the Fair Deal Cafe is closed on Mondays.

“It brings positive [change] to the corridor,” Sanders says. “These businesses provide not just economic development for the business owners, but it also provides jobs to support them.”

The other eight tenants include: Hand of Gold, a nail salon; Fashun Freak, a women’s clothing and accessory store; ABE (All Black Everything), a men’s contemporary clothing store; LikNu Boutique, a women’s clothing and accessory store; Mike’s Custom Creations, a custom shoe and cleaning business; Divine Nspirations, a Christian gift shop; It’z Poppin, a gourmet popcorn shop; and D-Marie Hair Boutique, a hair salon.

“I think by virtue of the businesses located there, it’s an artist area,” Sanders says. “It’s a historical district—first of all—and arts and culture are a part of that.”

But here’s the twist:

The majority of the development, just south of 24th and Burdette streets, is constructed via an arrangement of shipping containers. The seemingly unusual approach to building the structure is becoming a popular trend across the world.

“I think the container concept, in itself, is unique. We’re the first [commercial] container site in the State of Nebraska,” Sanders says. “It’s an economical way to provide retail spaces to businesses that were either home-based or internet-based on a consistent basis.”

More than 50 commercial spaces created from containers exist across the United States, Canada, Europe, Africa, and even Australia. Experts say the model effectively ups foot traffic. The alternative structure serves as a cost-effective and durable approach to community redevelopment.

Each container at the Omaha marketplace is fitted with heating and air conditioning, Sanders says. Six of them are 8-by-20 feet, and two are 16-by-20 feet. She also says the visual appeal of the development has increased foot traffic on North 24th Street.

“I noticed when there are activities at the Union [for Contemporary Arts], there are people that come down to the Fair Deal to eat and shop,” she says.

James Thele, planning director with the City of Omaha, describes the project as a solid foundation for future economic development along North 24th Street.

“We envisioned, as a community, North 24th Street as being an arts and entertainment center,” says Thele, who pointed to the nearby Union for Contemporary Arts.

The city’s contributions to the project included a $370,000 federal community development block grant and $195,000 in tax increment financing—or TIF, a common incentive that allows developers to use a portion of future property taxes to cover initial costs.

City officials also acquired an adjacent property to the marketplace, which will be converted into a parking lot connected to the new entertainment district.

Edward Dantzler, a city development section manager, says the 35-space lot will include two handicap accessible stalls. In total, the lot will cost $370,000, with completion in May.

“The parking lot and stalls will be reserved for the Fair Deal project,” Dantzler says.

Thele says while it’s “hard to argue” about the benefits of jobs and new business in North Omaha, it is important to see other prospects of the development.

“It attracts attention,” Thele says. “It creates a buzz, and that’s important.”

Sanders says further revitalization on 24th Street will help North Omaha continue to grow and become a destination for visitors throughout the city.

“And even though we’ve not been open six months, I’m starting to see that vibrance returning to the community,” she says.

Visit oedc.info for more information.

This article was printed in the Summer 2017 edition of B2B.

Bringing Meaningful Design Conversations to Omaha

August 13, 2017 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Architecture as an intellectual endeavor extends far beyond brick-and-mortar structures. For designer Andrew Conzett, architecture is a form of problem-solving and way to rewrite immediate questions about the built environment through a culturally sensitive lens. Early in his career, he positioned his curiosity at one of Omaha’s most creatively focused firms, developed numerous discipline-blurring projects, and helped curate a robust series of lectures with the Omaha chapter of the American Institute of Architects. This fusion of localized projects and international discourse is one that not only pushes his own practice forward, but also challenges existing norms and perceptions of regional architecture.

Conzett grew up in Omaha. Since a young age, he was inspired by his father, a civil engineer at a large international firm, and his mother, who was consistently involved with social service and nonprofit organizations. As a soon-to-be licensed architect, Conzett is a cocktail of both. He has always been keenly interested in art and landscape, both of which were influential in his childhood years and helped to inform his atypical response to the “I-always-wanted-to-be-an-architect” story ubiquitous amongst peers (many say it was from building with LEGO bricks as a child). During high school, a design competition piqued his interest. This community-focused extracurricular project, which combined multi-disciplinary teamwork and a design-based approach, prompted him to apply to the College of Design at Iowa State University.

While at Iowa State, his intense studio assignments were mixed with conversations and projects with artists and creative thinkers. Working alongside a diversity of artistic studies pushed him to see the multiplicity of architecture. During his final year in the architecture program, one of Conzett’s classmates responded to his non-binary projects by asking, “Do you want to be an installation artist or architect?” Conzett did not know how to respond; however, this prompt of either/or has now become a defining feature of his practice.

While studying, Conzett diversified his architectural coursework with internships at the Omaha Public Library and the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, where he interned with artist Sean Ward and curator Hesse McGraw. After graduating in 2010, he moved to Omaha and was soon commissioned to design an office pod installation at the headquarters of Bozell. The project resulted in a spatial intervention that was recognized by the AIA Central States Region’s Excellence in Design Awards for “Detail Honor and the Interior Design Best of Year Award for Budget Interiors.”

His interests in a diverse range of project types brought him to his current position at Alley Poyner Macchietto Architecture in 2011. At the collaborative open studio in north downtown where architects work alongside interior designers, graphic designers, artists, and engineers, Conzett is staying busy outside the office as well.

His CV for research-based and experimental projects is dense. Stepping one foot outside the firm, Conzett has worked collaboratively on award-winning projects with Emerging Terrain, the Anti-Defamation League, and the Council Bluffs Park System, including River’s Edge Park. Each project allows him to intensely research form, material, and site. They also provide an instant design-to-built-project process that allows ideas to come to fruition faster than with traditional design-bid-build projects, which often take years to complete. These research-based projects also speak to his interest in architecture as built form that has the ability to blur lines between disciplines and methodologies.

For Conzett, “contemporary architecture practice requires thinking about new methods and materials, and thus inspires me to seek out unique project types as a way to expand my knowledge of design and the built environment.”

His most recent endeavor, the AIA Omaha lecture series, conflates his efforts in community activities and intellectual pursuits. Organized in collaboration with Ross Miller and other AIA Omaha members, the 2017 lecture series is a thought-provoking forum for design thinking. Bringing in award-winning international and national architects, such as Mike Nesbit of Morphosis in Los Angeles and Kai-Uwe Bergmann of Bjarke Ingles Group in Copenhagen, the role of these lectures are two-fold. First, they are an opportunity for professional architects and the general public to participate in architectural discourse. Secondly, the lectures provide a voice for a range of architectural practices that are advancing disciplinary boundaries.

While the series may seem hyper-niche, the visiting lecturers produce a diverse range of project types. These architects discuss the scholarly and tactile impact of design beyond simply making buildings. As award-winning content creators, the lecturers stimulate the public and challenge architects to aim their work to an elevated level of design excellence.

“It is always good to hear professionals talk about their design process and work,” says Emily Andersen, owner of DeOld Andersen Architecture. “But it is even more important to have lecturers come to Omaha that are truly challenging assumptions. The lectures bring the potential of a meaningful conversation that allows us to see into the creative process of other design professionals. And so I really appreciate the work that AIA does, as well as Design Alliance Omaha to help bring that discourse here.”

In all of his work, Conzett is running against the boundaries of the discipline with a keen understanding that traditional definitions of architecture and the built environment deserve to be challenged and pushed forward. “Opportunities such as professional work with [Alley Poyner], design-build exhibition and installation commissions, and the AIA Omaha lecture series are all ways for me to continue to experiment with and better understand the practice of architecture,” he says.

Visit aiaomaha.org/lecture-series for more information.

This article was printed in the Summer 2017 edition of B2B.