Tag Archives: Verdis Group

Daylight Factory

July 16, 2018 by
Photography by contributed

Daylight may be the most prominent feature of the Rail and Commerce Building at 10th and Mason streets. The banks of windows on every floor—including the lower level—were designed in the style of a “daylight factory,” a multi-story concrete frame industrial building that proliferated in the early 20th century, and that’s how they were restored. 

The multitude of windows was not happenstance. “We recognized the daylight as a resource worth harvesting,” says Jon Crane, president of Boyd Jones, the company responsible for renovating the building. “You need an environment conducive to attracting, retaining, and hiring quality people. Environment matters.” 

Crane motions through the conference room window to the Boyd Jones’ open-space office area. “This is a very collaborative space, which is an important value of our company. This space is very open, yet not disruptive.”

The open floor plan was a feature of the original building. The first floor Boyd Jones office was once meant for mail trucks—they drove right through the center of the building, from the 10th Street bridge to what was then the 11th Street bridge. Downstairs, in what is now the Commerce Village, there was a track so railcars could go through. When the building opened in 1926, it received nearly all the mail for western Iowa and Nebraska. It served in that capacity until the 1970s, when the existing post office next door replaced it.

Vacant for most of the years since then, the Rail and Commerce Building was condemned to be torn down when Crane and his team found it. “It was a cold, dilapidated shell on the inside. But the building itself, the structure was very sound,” Crane says. “We restored the façade and we completely cleaned out the inside and made it new. It was a historical preservation project, so we worked with the Nebraska Historical Society and also the National Park Service. We were able to preserve a lot of the neat historical aspects of the building.”

Building a new edifice for Boyd Jones’ headquarters was only a fleeting thought for Crane.

“It’s very important to remember where you come from—to embrace the past, but adapt it to the future,” Crane says. “Change doesn’t have to mean destruction. It can mean evolution.”

The location in Little Italy attracted Crane. He guessed it would attract others as well. The lower level of the Rail and Commerce Building houses the roughly 20,000-square-foot Commerce Village coworking space. With 16 private suites and 50 desks, it offers a variety of systems for renters: closed-door offices, set desks, floater desks, or one-day drop-ins. 

For the planning of Commerce Village, Crane brought in Matt Dougherty, who had prior experience with collaborative workspaces. His eight spaces at the Ford Building at 10th and Dodge streets “went so fast it became clear there is a real need for this type of incubator space,” says Dougherty. In his insurance business, he’s seeing a sort of “small business renaissance”—a trend of wanting to work for yourself rather than someone else.

That fit just right with Boyd Jones. “One of the values of our company is entrepreneurship,” Crane says. “We wanted an office space that would attract entrepreneurs and start-up companies—a collaborative atmosphere for collaborative people.”  

That energy drew Verdis Group, according to managing partner Craig Moody. “We’re excited for the opportunity for partnering with other organizations here,” he says.  

The daylight was another huge draw. An unexpected benefit? “The trains going by,” Moody says, grinning. “Sometimes I feel like an 11-year-old boy.” 

Verdis Group promotes sustainability, so they were pleased to find the building was equipped with solar panels. There’s also ample bike parking, as well as private showers and changing rooms so employees can freshen up after pedaling to work—or using the Rail and Commerce Building’s own fitness center. 

Conference rooms; access to a printer, mail, and package services; and a stocked kitchenette round out the amenities. Crane explains, “We really want people to be comfortable, like you’re in your [home] office.”

Visit boydjones.biz or commercevillageomaha.com for more information. 

This article was printed in the June/July 2018 edition of B2B. 

Pedal Power

August 22, 2014 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Looking for a new and convenient way to motor around the city, but without the motor? B-Cycle, the popular bike-sharing program that is an effort of Live Well Omaha, has recently added three new pop-up locations to its system.

“The addition of these new stations is another step toward a comprehensive bike-sharing system for the city of Omaha,” says Ben Turner, who manages the B-Cycle program.

B-Cycle began in 2011 on the campus of the University of Nebraska-Omaha and in Aksarben Village. It expanded downtown last year. There are now 11 B-Cycle stations housing 57 bicycles, all of which can be returned to any B-Cycle kiosk. The three-speed bikes have a built-in locking mechanism and boast fenders, lights, and a handlebar basket. Passes may be purchased on a daily, 30-day, or annual basis.

There’s a certain nerd-chic air to the signature blue bicycles that are an increasingly common sight on Omaha’s urban streets, and Turner says that the program aims for as many as 75 kiosks to be placed around town and in Council Bluffs, many in collaboration with area businesses looking to better serve their employees…and the environemnt.

Bike-share programs, Turner says, provide many benefits to the community.

“It’s active transportation,” says Turner. “It improves air quality to have fewer cars on the road. It improves the physical fitness and wellbeing of those who ride.

Sales go up for retailers near one of the stations. And it’s been demonstrated that businesses in cities with bike programs can more easily attract and retain the best talent. Business looks to cities who care about sustainability.”

Daniel Lawse is a B-Cycle rider who knows more than a little bit about the topic of sustainability. On any given day, his multi-modal commutes to and from his Gifford Park home may include any combination of walking, hopping a bus, biking, or ride sharing.

Lawse is co-owner of Verdis Group, a sustainability consulting firm whose offices are in No-Do’s TipTop Building, the site of a B-Cycle kiosk. Verdis Group purchased B-Cycle passes for all of the company’s employees, one of whom walks to work.

“We support a culture of sustainability,” says Lawse, who also provides Metro bus passes to his team. “B-Cycle is a natural. It’s great for getting around to daytime meetings without having to use a car.”

The program, he adds, is an important addition to a city that is increasingly thinking green.

“This is an exciting time to live and work in this city,” Lawse says, “and B-Cycle is one more great addition to Omaha’s sustainability infrastructure.”