Undefined collaboration in shared workspace proving a success for Lexington young professionals
By Anne Sabatino Hardy
When the guys who work at The Livery say they offer a unique stable of creative services, they mean it literally. That’s because the historic building where A.J. Hochhalter, Bo Harris, Bradley Nolan, Corey Maple and Grant Ostrander do business every day is actually a refurbished, historic stable called the old Lexington Livery.
Located on Water Street next to Gray Construction, the entrance of the former Lexington Livery is nondescript in the most fascinating ways — aged brick with worn trim and detailed ironwork on large wooden double doors — and it conjures a speakeasy more than an office. The fact that there isn’t much in the way of signage adds to the intrigue.
Inside it gets even better. Implements of work mingle with elements of play: a pimped-out vintage fridge, ping pong, corn hole and long boards take up the space not occupied by a small recording studio, musical instruments, a few desks, a reception and meeting area, computers, and sound and camera equipment. There’s no doubt about the stylish and envy-inducing cool factor of The Livery outside and in – and that’s intentional. The space has been cultivated to complement the free-spirited but driven young entrepreneurs who work there every day.
In fact, the decor and verve of the place are more easily described than the relationships inside. The Livery is a shared workspace that is home to several different companies, but it’s not an incubator. It’s not a single entity, either, and, unfortunately for those on the outside, it’s not office space for rent. It’s more of a cooperative or creative collaborative. Each business occasionally partners with the others for a shared project or the mutual benefit of the group. They have discussions about best business practices and frequently take time to brainstorm together on one or another individual’s new concepts, but they each maintain their own businesses. It’s intentionally undefined, for now at least, and they take a note from their historical surroundings on how they regard one another.
“Just like those horses that tied in and stayed here weren’t owned by the livery, the people who are here aren’t owned by The Livery,” said Hochhalter, “We’re tying in and sharing space and we go on and grow from there.”
The space originally was secured by Harris and Ostrander when they started their business, Harris & Ward, together. They were looking for a place that would allow them to grow and be inspired.
“We were working together at a law firm and we developed a side project that does online marketing for physicians nationwide,” Harris said. “We help physicians in different regions grown their web presence and help people who need a certain kind of doctor to be matched up with them.”
The business includes clients across the United States, and, seeing the potential for even more growth, Harris and Ostrander recently convinced Corey Maple, their longtime friend and Hochhalter’s brother-in-law, to return home from southern Carolina to work in new business development. As they grew Harris & Ward, they realized it was a niche service that was becoming more and more important to their clients’ success.
“What we found was a lot of doctors are excellent physicians but need help with online marketing and online presence,” said Ostrander. “You are 53 times more likely to make the first page of organic Google search results with video. And the problem with video work before was it was kind of an ego thing, but now it can create an entire atmosphere and culture for a potential client while serving an important role for your marketing presence. So we began working with AJ on video production of mini documentaries for our doctors.”
From there, Promeo was born Hochhalter was brought in. Promeo is a joint venture that specializes in short documentary-style promotional videos with custom scores.
They now produce videos for various professional fields.
When he’s not collaborating on Promeo shoots and production, Hochhalter also does a brisk business scoring award-winning documentaries, other films and commercial projects through his company, Listen Design Studio. He recently traveled with the crew of “Blood Brother,” a film he scored, to the Sundance Film Festival, where it received the Grand Jury Prize, Documentary and Audience Award: U.S. Documentary.
Bradley Quinn Photography is the latest addition to The Livery and principle Bradley Nolan’s photographic documentation has been integral in the promotion of The Livery as a location, a collaborative, and a home to the creative entrepreneurs who work there. His documentary style fits in perfectly with the other businesses and is popular with the many portrait and event clients he works with. Also civically-minded, Nolan works on traveling projects to orphanages to document ongoing mission work as well as his day to day work.
Though they have different specialties and work on a variety of projects with a diverse group of clients, they all share a similar ethic and attitude about their cooperative – one of support, encouragement, openness, hard work and hard play. And, it’s working for them for now. So The Livery will change if or when it is ready.
“We’ve all been approached by several people who say, ‘What is this?’ and it’s been fun to say we’re not sure yet, we don’t know,” Harris said. “We wanted a place like this. We found the right place and the right people.”
“It’s working for what we’re doing now and it’s growing our businesses and we’re going to continue to keep it that way,” Hochhalter added. “We’re well-placed with a strategically located, fun building. We’re going to keep putting our heads together and maximizing our work.”
“If it never went anywhere else, it’s a giant success,” Ostrander said.
Anne Sabatino Hardy is a writer for BG Magazine. Interact with BG Magazine on Facebook at facebook.com/BGMag.