Going into business with friends can be a challenge, but for Nick Seguin, Matt Dopkiss, and Bobby Whitman, they have seen their company Dynamit grow from their partnership to a company with 46 full-time employees and a 9,300 square-foot office space.
Dopkiss, CEO, and Whitman, COO, were both in a PhD program when they left that to focus on Dynamit full-time.
“Matt, Bobby and I all attended Bishop Watterson together and were friends,” says Nick Seguin, Partner. “Matt and Bobby worked on several projects together including software design. In the early 2000s, Matt and Bobby built a product together and soon after I joined in a marketing and sales capacity. We’ve grown from there by delivering great work and results with our clients.”
Originally, the team’s office was in Northwest Columbus in an office complex.
“It was great to have a space of our own – a place to start – but it wasn’t reflective of our personality or working style,” says Seguin. “We made the move to the Arena District in 2009 to 300 Marconi Blvd. The move was an investment in our space for our team and our clients.”
That space was full of character: brick, wood, rafters, and textures filled the original structure.
“We loved that office, but needed room to grow,” he says.
Dynamit’s real estate team found the space they grew into while reviewing locations in the Arena District, Short North, German Village, and the Brewery District. The central location of the Arena District was key, as well as the amount of activity in the area.
“The Arena District is first and foremost safe and clean,” says Seguin. “As we considered areas both in our original move Downtown and in our most recent move, safety for our team and our clients was high on our priorities. It’s accessible and in close proximity to some of our other favorite neighborhoods. And, the Arena District is still growing and evolving.”
Built in 1927, the building has been family owned for 3 generations and have the old structure the Dynamit team loves, while at the same time providing room for growth.
“It has the underlying character we wanted,” says Seguin. “It just had to be coaxed out.”
They did that by removing drywall to expose the original brick, tearing up carpet and adhesive to expose the original concrete slab. Polishing the concrete gave a beautiful sheen to the floors.
“We worked with GRAD and Axis to envision, design and build out a unique space for our team,” says Seguin. “GRAD did a great job of translating the wild visions in our head, making sure they accommodated the utility we needed while offering the design and personality needed, and Axis made it so.”
Fun improvements include a kitchen and living area that accommodates leisure as well as work, and quirks like diminishing hallways and hidden rooms.
Reclaimed barn wood from an 1865 barn near Coshocton, Ohio was brought in through The Mount Vernon Barn Company. Another historical addition includes carriage house doors from the fourth home ever built in Marble Cliff.
“Most of our furniture is locally made by AT-95,” says Whitman. “They specialize in industrial inspired furniture made from salvaged White American Oak.”
The conference table in the Ballroom was made by the Dynamit team using a large plate of glass atop a pair of bourbon barrels from Watershed Distillery. In the Conservatory, creative director Phil Franks commissioned a custom design of wood and iron from a craftsman in Pennsylvania.
“Each of the tables matches and adds character to their respective conference rooms,” says Seguin.
Art throughout the space shows off the creativity of the design team at Dynamit.
“They envisioned, designed and produced all of it,” says Seguin.
Building a successful team is something Dyanmit is meticulous about.
“We assemble our team from eclectic backgrounds and experiences,” says Seguin. “The type of work we do with clients demands creativity, problem solving, knowledge of the enterprise, strong relationships and vision. People at Dynamit hail from big corporations, other agencies, other industries and widely varied degrees/experiences. We have former rock stars (literally), pilots, scientists, parents, new graduates, people from other countries, athletes, gamers, bookworms, musicians and some pretty amazing karaoke singers.”
He continues, “People interviewing will definitely go through 5-7 touchpoints, sometimes more. Our team has been built through our networks for the most part. The “family tree” that depicts how people got here is not very branched. We also work with a few key partners in recruiting but we’re very exclusive about that.”
Although Dynamit has seen much success and growth, Seguin feels every day is a challenge.
“Anyone who is building a business and doesn’t acknowledge that isn’t being honest,” he says. “Specifically, working with people who are your friends – who become family – and continuing to make decisions for the good of the company and your clients is challenging. It’s a maturity process and can only be understood with experience. Objectively assessing the state of the business, the best way forward, and making decisions about long time clients, service offerings, and your team as you work to equip yourself for the future is wildly challenging.”
But don’t let that keep you from pursuing your dream.
“Start,” he offers for advice. “Nothing happens until you do that.”
Photos by Walker Evans.
For more information, visit www.dynamit.com.
Do you know of, have, or work in, a creative workspace and would like to be featured in this series? If so, please contact Anne Evans.