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Erwin: ‘We have to keep stretching our imagination’ with Endeavor

Creative Industries
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Just over a year ago, Joe Erwin wasn’t really sure what he was going to do, but he knew he was going to do something.

He had already parted ways with the company he started in Greenville, advertising firm Erwin Penland. But, in typical Joe fashion, he wasn’t able to sit still for very long.

It was at that time, he and his small team created Endeavor — a creative collaboration space that allows small creative companies a place to do business and a place to work with peers.

What started as a vacant floor inside the One building in downtown Greenville has grown to include 150 members and sponsors across multiple categories of membership.

“If I’m totally honest, I don’t know that I could totally predict this would look the way it does now,” Erwin said.

When he first looked at the vacant fourth floor once occupied by now-defunct Certus Bank, Erwin said there was really no way he could see a collaborative space in the same location that was occupied by a small number of bank executives.

It wasn’t that the space wasn’t nice because it was. It has a great view of the plaza and downtown Greenville, plus it has a great address that the clients Erwin envisioned getting to become members would not likely have.

But, Erwin walked away. Something, however, made him come back to the 20,000-square-foot floor at the One building for a second look.

“We looked everywhere after that, but there was something about it and we went back to look at the space and decided to push our imagination,” Erwin said. “We asked ‘what if we change the space and make it look inviting with explosive color?’”

Thus, the creation of Endeavor.

Now, the idea of Endeavor isn’t an original one. Erwin got the idea from his daughter Valerie who works for the Denver, Colo.-based hospitality marketing agency Screen Pilot. Screen Pilot got its start inside Thrive, a creative space located in downtown Denver. Thrive has since expanded to two locations in the Denver metropolitan area.

Screen Pilot has grown to nearly 12 employees and has already moved out of Thrive into its own offices in downtown Denver. It’s a story Erwin said he wanted to be able to tell with Endeavor — a story where a small company or individual uses the space and grows to the point where they have to move.

Without mentioning specific companies, he said there are “a few” at the point of moving out on their own, but there are also those companies and individuals that are likely to stay right where they are.

“It’s nice that we have some folks that are of a size to where they are content with their headcount and the space they use,” Erwin said. “I think we will have members that won’t grow out the front door and we will always understand that if we are doing our jobs a certain number of the firms will leave and that’s okay.”

When Endeavor first opened, Erwin quipped that he would be fortunate if Endeavor lasted a year. Now, that time has come and gone, so the question becomes … what’s next?

“As we go from year one to year two, we want to grow and I think there is an opportunity to get some of Greenville’s best and brightest companies and nonprofits. I don’t think we have scratched the surface; but because we have been so busy, we haven’t been aggressive salespeople,” Erwin said.

So, Endeavor has done just that … endeavored to create a space where creative companies and creative people can collaborate.

“We had to make that leap of faith and we wondered if we had enough confidence and faith in ourselves to make the space work,” Erwin said. “We decided to bet on ourselves and I think that bet has been a good one, but I don’t think by any stretch of the imagination that we have arrived.

“We have to keep stretching our imagination. We are not going to pat ourselves on the back.”

 

Reach Matthew Clark at 864-720-1222.

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