Case Study: SOLV Marketing

red stools at a workplace counter in large, wood paneled office

SOLV Marketing is a Midland, Michigan creative agency offering social media marketing, video and photography, content writing, and brand identity services.


Often, our workplace design projects require us to start from scratch with a blank slate. But SOLV — being the creative geniuses they are — had already begun renovations on their office space. They installed the wood floor and wall paneling, the decal wallpaper, and the impressive chalkboard. 

But they found themselves trapped in a time-suck of searching for the perfect furniture and accessories. That’s when they called us at SPACE in for support and decision-making!


The SOLV team gave us specific direction on their vision. They wanted a steampunk theme: a retrofuturistic subgenre of science fiction that incorporates technology from 19th century steam-powered machinery. (We had to Google that!)

Their clear — if a bit complicated — theme meant they hadn’t found the right furniture solution. The team also wasn’t sure if they were going to stay in their leased building, so they requested a somewhat flexible design solution, just in case.

Finally, the building’s original wood trim is a much lighter tone than the color selected for the new flooring and wall paneling.

Working with the existing elements in their space, our team searched high and wide for the right furniture solution. We landed on Arcadia Contract’s Worksmith brand. This modern furniture style is functional, flexible, and ties in the lighter wood trim.

Taking SOLV’s stylistic lead with the steampunk theme, we selected a handful of fun, bold, humorous accessories. These included a globe, giant dice, a funky blue coat hanger, and a small wheeled cart. 

We’re proud of the way we stepped into this challenge, creating collaborative spaces and a laid back, enjoyable space for the SOLV Marketing team. We can work with you on any workplace design project — no matter what stage you’re in!

Completed photos:

Original renderings:

Employee feature: Lauren Greschaw

Lauren Greschaw, senior interior designer, is a six-year veteran at SPACE — and the lucky guinea pig for our new employee feature series!

Originally an editor, Lauren grew passionate about interior design. A quick Google search within her hometown of Midland, Michigan led her to SPACE, Inc. But Kathie Fuce-Hobohm gently told her she was too young — to come back when she had AutoCAD experience.

How did your path lead to SPACE?

I earned my bachelor’s degree in interior design from Ball State University in Indiana. When I showed back up at SPACE’s door, Kathie agreed to let me start as an intern — partly because I was the first person to ever return after she had suggested more experience was needed.

Kathie adds that she gave me the opportunity because of my “grit and determination to earn the internship position.”

What are you most proud about throughout your years with SPACE?

I joined the SPACE team as a very young adult, so this team — led by Kathie, Paddy, and Jenni —  has helped me find my personal and professional voice. I have an innate need to make people happy, so it’s incredibly fulfilling to complete a project alongside our team and watch the clients glow.

What has been the most surprising aspect of your work with SPACE?

I didn’t realize how intense it could be in working with furniture dealers. Furniture is usually one of the last parts of the puzzle, and we designers have to be fast-paced and nimble to manage bids and timelines.

Tell us about a favorite project or two you’ve worked on.

Spicer Group — a construction engineer company in Saginaw, Michigan — was the first large-scale project I worked on. I get to stay involved with them, as SPACE tackles a new, small chunk of Spicer’s building every year.

I also had a blast working with SOLV Marketing on their “steampunk” office style — something we’ve never done before. Stay tuned for the case study and photos!

In your opinion, what is the future of design — and how will SPACE be able to help?

We firmly believe that the future of design includes the ability to work from anywhere: an office, your home, or a rented VRBO across the country. Clients will — and already are — ask for a variety of collaborative meeting spaces, comfortable furniture, and flexibility to adapt to unforeseen changes.

Throughout the past year, our design department has become much more collaborative than ever before. We’re ready for what’s to come.

Fun facts about Lauren:

Lauren’s personal design style: “A weird blend of mid-century modern and farmhouse.”

A design trend she hopes never returns: “Overly done peaches, pinks, and mauves.”

She loves kayaking, traveling, and she recently got a corgi puppy named Ginny — after the Harry Potter character, of course!

Alan Ott’s legacy lives on through SPACE’s new brand

a red bridge over a shining lake

How Alan Ott became my mentor

Alan Ott was a lot of things to a lot of people. But for me, he was a trusted mentor and friend. 

Mr. Ott served as Chemical Bank’s fifth president, CEO, and chairman of its board—leading the organization to acquire 17 community banks across Michigan’s lower peninsula. He volunteered with many Midland organizations, forged strong relationships with business leaders and philanthropists, and aimed to make Midland “the best town in America.”

With his vast array of connections and his leadership, Alan truly guided our community. It’s amazing how he could build consensus between different groups. And everyone who really wanted to help the community stopped by his office to share ideas and requests.

In 2001, I asked Mr. Ott to help me better understand the financial side of running a small business. I vividly remember the first time I sat down with him—he glanced at my financial statements for about 45 seconds before asking me a handful of questions. I couldn’t answer a single one.

From that point, I met with Mr. Ott monthly for several years. He would point out critical numbers on my income statement or balance sheet, ask about my business strategies for improving them and, over time, gave me the ability to understand how I could interpret the numbers to create a more sustainable business—on purpose.

By the third year of receiving his mentorship, I was beginning to catch on. And in the fourth year, I could ask the questions myself.

That gift of learning how to lead my own business and understand financial literacy myself is something I couldn’t possibly repay him for.

For 20 years, we met often—and I benefited from his sage wisdom. He taught me due diligence and how to mitigate risk. He never once told me how to do something, but always asked me to share my perspective and solutions—an uncommon approach at the time. I am incredibly grateful for the huge time commitment he gave me and for the safe environment he created for me to learn in.

“When things are bad, there’s one thing you can always do: work harder.”

Alan Ott

Alan Ott’s legacy continues in SPACE’s new brand

After he retired Mr. Ott had a wonderful office in the Rollin M. Gerstacker Foundation that looked out at Curry Bridge. He wanted that bridge to be painted red, similar to the beautiful red bridges in Dow Gardens. And, true to form, Mr. Ott got that bridge painted a lovely red—and it made him very happy.

As SPACE began our rebranding process, we wanted our company to reflect our Midland community and the mid-century modern color palette so prevalent in the Alden B. Dow architecture Midland is famous for. 

We hoped to use an orange/red hue, so popular in mid-century modern design. With the help of graphic designer Kallee Hobohm, we decided to create our own color formula and christen it “Ott Red.”  

We couldn’t think of a better way to honor the memory of a wonderful man that embodied both our Midland heritage and a love of all things red.  

We hope you like it, Mr. Ott.

Carpet Tiles, What You NEED to Know!!

Carpet tiles have been and still are considered to be the height of fashion and practicality in the corporate office environment.  Here are just a few of the advantages of choosing carpet tiles for your office space.

Creativity:  Carpet tiles are the first and foremost when wanting to truly design a space.  With their small size and ability to be cut to precise shapes, carpet tiles let you create an environment that is right for your business.

Versatility:  Because of their size and layout, carpet tiles can be laid to fit rooms that are less than conventional.  Because carpet tiles can be cut easily, the process is easier, faster and produces a finished final product.

Durability:  Carpet tiles are VERY durable.  There is a reason carpet tiles have been around since the 50’s!

Warranties:  Carpet tiles can come with the best warranties for the life of your carpet.  Engineered wood and Laminate can come with a warranty, but most times are a shorter length with stipulations.

What is Activation?

In the construction and design world, everyone knows the main phases of a typical project: Pre-Design, Design, Procurement, Construction, Post-Construction.

So, what is Activation and where does it fit?  

Activation – or to activate, a verb — means to set in motion; make active or more active.  

In construction management, Activation is the phase of a project that prepares a building/space for occupancy.

Activities could include:

  • Mechanical and electrical commissioning
  • Furniture installation
  • IT network configuration
  • Phone installation
  • Actual move of occupants into the space

On face value one could say, “Oh, that’s just another name for Post-Construction.”  

However, Activation, specifically for technical projects like bio-medical research laboratories and hospitals, is a phase that spans the whole project schedule.

The goal of any project is to create a space where the occupants can perform their activities effectively — from a scientist reviewing newly formed stem cells to a doctor operating on a sick patient.  

These high-tech buildings need to function.

At the end of the day, what is the point of turning over a new facility to talented researchers and medical personnel if the building can’t serve them?

A common problem that I’ve experienced over the years is that by the time the construction project is completed — sometimes taking multiple years — the technology & equipment used by the occupants is outdated and obsolete.

Furthermore, scientific personnel and/or research projects have changed.  

Utility requirements, whether electrical, mechanical heat loads, or lab/medical gasses have been modified and the whole space needs to be renovated before the occupant can move in.

Yes, brand new facilities must be renovated to meet the needs of the users before they can move-in.

How is this an effective use of resources, time and money?

Therefore, I believe that Activation needs to be in the forefront of everyone’s mind throughout the whole project lifecycle.  Continual check-ins with the users, surveys of equipment, discussions with IT and equipment manufacturers need to occur.

Coordination between the design/construction and activation teams need to occur early in the design process, rather than after construction is complete.

By focusing on Activation early, the project has better success of staying on schedule too.  The more time you have to adjust to new information the more time you have to incorporate it into your project plan.  The last thing a project needs at turnover is finding out that a user piece of equipment requires a specific kind of power outlet, requiring change orders and additional work.

And this model can be used for other building industry groups like retail tenant fit-out, hotels and high-rise residential.  Maintaining high levels of quality on day one for users and guests is paramount for brand justification.

Again, our goal as service providers in the construction industry is to deliver a space that can be used by the occupants on the day that they arrive in the space.

Working together with that goal and foresight in mind by starting Activation early is a great way to make that goal a reality.

What areas of Project Turnover do you struggle with?  Please leave a comment and we will respond!

SPACE Inc Recognized for Excellence in the Great Game of Business


Kathie Fuce-Hobohm, Dealer Principal, SPACE Inc.


Rapid Financial Results; Lasting Cultural Change

Fuce-Hobohm admits that when she and a business partner founded SPACE Inc. 23 years ago, they were what you might call “accidental” entrepreneurs. At the time, Fuce-Hobohm worked for a larger company that decided that it was going to close down their location. So Fuce-Hobohm and her partner decided to open their own business instead. The rub was that while Fuce-Hobohm knew how to create great office interiors, she didn’t have a strong financial acumen. “We would either accidentally make or lose money,” she says. “I didn’t understand the business of running the business when we got started.” A breakthrough occurred in 2013, when a team from SPACE Inc. learned about the Great Game of Business on a visit to Zingerman’s in nearby Ann Arbor, MI. Inspired by what they saw, Fuce-Hobohm and her VP of Finance and Administration, Colette St. Louis, put together a comprehensive financial literacy training program for SPACE Inc.’s associates that they call “Easy Beans.” The goal of the program was to make learning the financials fun and approachable to associates who would likely rather be designing and developing funky interiors. “It used to be you could see everyone’s eyes roll and hear some snores whenever I presented any financial information,” says St. Louis. “Some people would ask questions, but the rest figured it didn’t affect them. Now, by teaching the financials, we have the ability to share what we know with the team so they can help us achieve the goals we set together, rather than pushing them to achieve the goals we set for them.” One result, gross profit is up some 3% – which is just about unheard of their industry. The financial literacy training has also helped create that line of sight for associates as well: In a recent company survey, 100% of employees reported that they understood how they as individuals could impact the company’s bottom line. “Everybody in our company knows how he or she makes a difference,” says Fuce-Hobohm.


Playing The Game Together

Once the SPACE Inc. team began to understand the financials, it unlocked cross-departmental teamwork that has helped inspire new levels of problem-solving and innovative thinking across the organization. “One thing the Great Game of Business does really well is that it helps articulate difficult concepts in a way people can understand,” says Fuce-Hobohm. Another impact from playing the game and tapping the Wisdom of the Crowd through High Involvement Planning and forecasting is that it’s changing the attitude and mindset of associates. “Thanks to the Great Game of Business, the team is actively working on removing phrases such as ‘I don’t know’ or ‘It won’t work’ or ‘That’s not my job’ from their daily vocabulary,” says Jenni Bush, vice president, “and replacing those phrases with ‘It can’t be done this way, but what if we did this instead?’ They’re not stopping at ‘can’t – they’re figuring out ‘how.’”

What’s Next?

One of the priorities Fuce-Hobohm wants to focus on in the coming years is to continue to help her employees connect the financial literacy lessons they are learning at work with their personal lives. Another priority area is to continue to train and grow the company’s next generation of leaders, whom they call “Gen 2,” to help the company identify future growth opportunities. “The Great Game of Business helps you build that platform that allows you to create your succession plan,” says Fuce-Hobohm.