The Factory has been a staple in the coworking and colearning community in Western Michigan for over a decade. When the opportunity presented itself to keep the tradition going, we jumped at it. The prior owner and founder, Aaron Schaap, was taking a new direction in his career and was looking for the right team to take over and bring The Factory to the next level.
The Vianet team, based in Grand Rapids, Michigan and Scottsdale, Arizona, had worked with Aaron for years. Vianet is a holding company that owns other companies in the digital, food service, and commercial real estate realms. We started talking to Aaron in late 2019 about transitioning ownership from him to our portfolio, and it worked out!
Jeff Steinport, the COO and CLO of Vianet, brought on Alberto Garza to be the community manager. Alberto has a long history of work in commercial and private banking and was exited to bring new life to The Factory Community. Alberto got to work right away.
In January of 2020, it was official! The Factory was under new ownership and lots of improvements and upgrades were planned. Unfortunately, the coronavirus put a wrench in those plans, but the pandemic gave us some time to pause, reevaluate the business plan, and think about how the workforce would be changing. We still did some rearranging and upgrades, such as new desks, new Room booths, and a lot of paint.
Since that time, we’ve worked hard to adapt to the new world, and we see a lot of opportunity as companies downsize their office spaces and look for more flexible ways to get their employees together. We also recognize that many people have been working from home and might be looking for a change, or a chance to get out and interact with people again. We expanded our team to bring on Megan Lavish and Frederick Polk to help bring The Factory to its full potential.
That’s where The Factory comes in for the future of the Grand Rapids coworking scene. We’re getting ready to move to a new space that will have upgraded amenities, more meeting rooms, private offices, and more private spaces for video calls.
But the most important aspect of The Factory is the community. We have a diverse group of businesspeople, entrepreneurs, students, and interesting individuals who interact and bring The Factory alive. This isn’t a place where everyone comes into the office, keeps their head down, and goes home at 4pm. We pride ourselves making sure that the community is just as important as the physical space. We host events, meetups, expert series meetings, and social gatherings. We encourage collaboration and getting to know each other. You never know when you’re going to make a connection and meet someone who you can collaborate with and bring your business to the next level!
As we move forward into 2022, a lot of exciting changes are coming and we’re very excited to share those changes with our coworking community and the Grand Rapids community in general.