After 28 years at the Aon Center, Edelman Chicago has a new home at 111 North Canal Street. I am sitting in my new office overlooking the Chicago River as I write this blog.
This is our fifth home in the city. My father started the firm in the Merchandise Mart, with four people in that giant showroom, because his first client, the Toni Company, was down the hall. Our second office was at LaSalle and Wacker, overlooking the Chicago River the former Chicago office of Grey Advertising, which left us a built-out space and furniture. Then we went to 211 E. Ontario, a sweet little building where we were the primary tenant, with the street now renamed for my father courtesy of a friendly alderman. In the mid-90s, we had outgrown the space. My father wanted the most established location to impress corporate clients. He picked the Amoco Building, home of Standard Oil of Indiana, the law firm Kirkland & Ellis and PWC, a marble-clad 80 story tower erected in the early 70s (I was an intern at the Amoco Motor Club, sending yellow lined maps to those about to embark on trips, in summer 1973).
Now we are where we belong for the next phase of Edelman. We are adjacent to the booming Fulton Market area just west of the Chicago River, replete with cool restaurants and night life. We are in a building with exposed brick and high ceilings, a former warehouse constructed in 1918 for a mail order business. We will have a state-of-the-art test kitchen for our food and beverage clients surrounded by a recreation hub where people can gather, listen to music and collaborate. We have a large outdoor space on the roof for client meetings and for our team to relax after work. Our new production studio will be centrally located so our clients can work side by side with us to produce videos and other content. We will have a museum that honors my parents and catalogues the 70 years of Edelman, from the Toni Twins to the Unilever Good Humor Ice Cream truck theme change.
Our design team, led by Alice Hoguisson and Gensler, in partnership with office president Kevin Cook, has given us a perfect concept of interconnected villages so that the brand, health, corporate and integrated solutions teams all have their own space but are proximate for sharing ideas. It is a place that will attract our people back to the workplace, to imbibe the culture, to learn from each other, to push forward on the best programs for clients.
When I met the senior team from the Chicago office last night, I told them that much had been achieved in the Aon Center (the new name for the Amoco Building). We became the largest PR firm in the world. We grew from a PR firm into a communications agency. We globalized our firm so that 40 percent of our revenue is from outside the U.S. We did significant work, from the Starbucks-led effort to employ 100,000 diverse youths in the summer of 2016 to the continued miracle of the Butterball Turkey Talk Line to the recent campaign for the City of Chicago on mental health.
But my most important message was that we are a Chicago-based company in our values of hard work, decency, low ego, hustle, and community involvement. As our global co-headquarters, Chicago has always housed some of our largest clients, our smartest people and best work. Though the open plan concept would have given him pause, I know that my father was looking down with pride last night, inspiring us to believe that the best is yet to come for this family company.
Richard Edelman is CEO.