Inside Shure’s New Downtown Chicago Facility: An Epicenter of Innovation and Style
Besides offering demo and training space and production studio, it’s close to customers
Earlier this year, Shure partnered with architecture and design firm Perkins+Will to create a City Center location in the heart of Chicago’s Loop. Opened in March, the 35,000-sq.-ft. space (covering an entire floor) in The National building is intended to bring Shure closer to many of its key customers — including major sports venues — as well as boosting overall growth and expansion.
On pace to outgrow its corporate headquarters in nearby Niles, IL, by the end of this year, Shure moved sales, marketing, customer service, and market development to the new downtown location. Nearly 100 Shure employees are located there, with more scheduled to make the move in the coming years.
Although the need for expansion played a role, Shure’s new office also features a state-of-the-art Customer Experience Center to demo its latest video-conferencing products, a Training Center, a dedicated video-production studio, and much more.
“First and foremost,” says Senior Regional Sales Manager Rick Renner, “our main goal with this new location was to get closer to our customers and have a space to demonstrate our video-conferencing products. In the short few months since we opened, it’s already paying off, and we’re just getting started. We’ve got customers in here [for demonstrations] almost every day, and we’re now bringing integrators in so they can see it and envision how they might serve their customers. We’ve got customers asking not only to come in and see our products but also to see proper acoustical treatment and what the possibilities could be for their operation. So it’s been a lot of fun, and we’re excited about what’s still to come.”
Shure Tech, Style, Culture Are Evident Throughout
Inside the new offices, the company’s brand, culture, and storied history take center stage. Scrawled prominently across the wall in the reception area are the words of founder S.N. Shure, which the company still lives by: “We know very well that absolute perfection cannot be attained, but we will never stop striving for it.”
Around the corner from the main entryway is the Customer Experience Center, which features three acoustically perfect conference rooms of various sizes, allowing Shure associates to demo the latest conferencing and professional products in a real-world environment. The rooms feature a wealth of MXA910 ceiling array microphones and MXA310 table array microphones. In addition, all mics and speakers throughout the entire Customer Experience Center are running on a Dante IP network, so the different rooms can communicate with each other during demos.
“The Customer Experience Center is really why we built this facility,” notes Renner. “We have seen big growth in the corporate market with some of the video-conferencing products that we’ve released over the last five years. We didn’t really have the space to build anything like this in Niles, and the bulk of our corporate customers are downtown anyway.”
In addition to the Customer Experience Center, Shure has erected a Training Facility equipped with MXA910 ceiling mics and an automated camera-control system that leverages facial recognition to automatically switch between the presenter up front and those in the audience asking questions.
“We didn’t even really have a great training space in Niles at our headquarters because it’s primarily all shared spaces, so everyone is competing for the same space,” says Renner. “This way, we are able to have a training facility all to ourselves.”
The new Shure facility also features a video-production studio and three Adobe Premiere NLE suites responsible for creating marketing, product-based, training, and social-media content.
“It’s a real luxury to have this, because we didn’t have a space like it in Niles,” says Renner. “It’s been very active in here, and it’s a lot easier for our team to be downtown because it makes venues a lot more accessible. And then, in addition, they have a video-editing suite, where they have three bays and they can just edit away.”
In addition, Shure’s downtown office includes dedicated work areas for sales, marketing, customer service, and market-development teams; several huddle rooms (each named after a famous Chicago music venue, such as The Metro and the Auditorium Theater); new-age collaborative spaces; and a hub space fully equipped with A/V for larger gatherings. The entire floor features a sound-masking system, which allows all employees to speak at normal levels without bothering others in the workplace.
The Downtown Advantage: Sports Segment Sees the Benefits
For the company’s local M&E and sports pro-audio customers, the new facility is already bearing fruit. It’s walking distance from the majority of the area’s major broadcasters and countless venues in the Theater District and is just a 15-minute drive from Guaranteed Rate Field, Soldier Field, Wrigley Field, and the United Center.
“It has definitely been easier to facilitate some one-on-one conversations with some of our top end users,” says Bill Ostry, marketing development, Pro Systems Group, Shure. “We’re right in the thick of it with all the different sports [venues]. Since we’ve moved here, I’ve actually facilitated advanced demos on the fly on a game day just a couple hours before it starts. It’s really handy to be down here, because we can just throw [a product] in our bag, hop in a taxi, and be there in 10 minutes.
“That’s made it really beneficial for [customers] and for us, too,” he continues, “because it keeps our one-on-one interaction ongoing. Add in the broadcasters’ being within walking distance, and it’s just a much better placement for all the touchpoints around Chicago for the pro side of things.”
The Downtown Facility Will Continue To Evolve
With the space not even six months old, Shure has plenty planned. Renner expects the company to use its training facility more and more for outside events, especially those aimed at A/V consultants and integrators, as well as for more Wireless Masterclass training sessions.
“It’s exciting to have these [facilities] at our fingertips because it opens up all kinds of new opportunities,” he says. “We can bring some of the local A1s and A2s into the facility to do training right here in the office. That’s not something that would have been available to us before.”