The space at 1055 N. High St. in the Short North has been through a number of changes. First it was a gas station, then a warehouse for a doctor’s hospital. Then Rebecca Ibel turned it into her gallery space, but now it’s home to Ibel Agency.
Sebastian Ibel is president of the agency that focuses on advertising, branding, communication and design. Phrases posted on the walls serve as a constant reminder of the team’s philosophy.
“We know very well who we are,” Ibel says. The firm strives for clients that are a perfect match in size, philosophy and what they value.
Ibel Agency works with a number of non-profits including the Ohio Capital Corporation for Housing, the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) and the Columbus Council on World Affairs.
“We like to work for the things that we actually can believe in,” Ibel says. The agency does a significant amount of pro bono work for their non-profit clients, finding paying it forward really does pay off. It’s helped them find a number of clients, but they also do it because they believe in the organizations.
Most of the agency’s team members share a large, open space.
“We’ve been experimenting a lot with the issues of open office space versus separate offices,” Ibel says, eventually opting for the mostly open concept. The space reflects Ibel Agency’s emphasis on open communication not only between the different segments of their team, but also with their clients.
“We have a mix of designers and programmers so we try to teach others their language,” Ibel says. They facilitate a number of internal workshops that go over best practices from all points of view. While it can be a challenge to bring communicators, designers and technical people together on the same page, Ibel feels his team has developed good communication practices.
The agency carries that strong communication over to its clients. They interact openly, managing project expectations and clearly outlining their process to ensure success from the beginning.
Developing these practices is one of Ibel’s favorite aspects of being an entrepreneur. “It gives me the ability to create company culture that I believe is a good culture,” he says.
Openness also characterizes the other side of Ibel Agency’s office. A large, flexible space flooded with natural light from two glass garage doors serves as their conference room. Installing the glass doors was the first change Rebecca made when transforming the space to a gallery.
Now the doors provide a point of interest for clients – and they are great for parties. The firm will open the doors and float in and out from building to parking lot during gatherings.
The conference area is framed by one of the many pieces of unique art found throughout the office.
Since it used to be a gallery, it’s no surprise Ibel Agency displays a number of pieces from both local and international artists. Works from the like of Laura Sanders, Linda Gall and Dion Johnson decorate the space.
While the office has a unique set-up having gone through a number of conversions, “What we really like about this space is the location,” Ibel says. “It’s a wonderful location to have.” The Short North location provides advantages like a number of nearby restaurants for lunch and is a short commute for a number of the employees. Most walk to work, including Ibel himself. And he says the parking is better than people normally think.
The agency is also taking advantage of the alternative transportation options that Columbus has added in the last few years like car2go and the Cbus.
“We can almost take the Cbus almost from door-to-door to MORPC if we want to,” Ibel says.
Furnishing and building the office has been an eclectic effort, adding pieces here and there, with Ibel doing much of the work himself. While they enjoy the location and character of the space, a big move is on the horizon for Ibel Agency. The firm will be making a move North Fifth Street downtown likely at the beginning of the year.
With 10 employees, Ibel agency is outgrowing their current space. Ibel is excited at the possibilities for the new space, asking, “What do we want to do in our next space because it’s a blank slate for us.” The new office will solve many of the challenges the current space presents – like a well-defined conference area and lack of natural light in certain parts of the office.
For more information, visit ibelagency.com.