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[caption id="attachment_224979" align="alignnone" width="1482"] The Mill[/caption]
'A very flexible model' for innovators.
A lawyer, a coder, a banker and a mom walk into a building. It's not the opening of a joke – just an average day at The Mill.
The flexible co-working office space opened in downtown Wilmington in 2016 with 12,000 square feet that filled out almost immediately. The Mill opened a second location in Concord in January 2020 with 30% occupancy and a pandemic around the corner, but managed to fill the space to 90% by last summer.
“Our revenue hasn’t fallen off,” says Robert Herrera, co-founder. The Mill offers memberships as small as a mailing address for $65 a month, up to a 40-person private suite currently leased out for $18,000. Pre-pandemic, the co-working space had nearly 500 members; there are around 400 now.
[caption id="attachment_224980" align="alignright" width="172"] Robert Herrera[/caption]
The flexibility and cooperative nature of the space was an asset through the pandemic, says Herrera. As much as they could, the clients and staff worked together. For example, The Mill became a hub of shared information on how to fill out the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) paperwork, he says. Now, being able to shift quickly with market demand has The Mill growing again. The flexible options are attracting a larger business demographic — companies like marketing firms and law offices.
“They like the short-term nature of it. They want to attract their employees into a cool space versus their blah 1980s offices,” says Herrera. “It was always a requirement to come to the office and now it’s not, so they’re trying to attract their employees in.”
To meet that new desire, The Mill is expanding again by leasing another floor of the Nemours building downtown. It is 33,000 square feet being divided into 33 custom suites focusing on mid-tier companies.
Thinking Outside the Box Together
"The Mill has proven to be an excellent location for our team. Shared spaces, conference rooms, easy-access amenities and private offices were all items we were looking for, and The Mill delivers them in a way that feels modern and contemporary,” says Mac Macleod, CEO of Carvertise, the country’s largest car-wrap advertising company. The company leases space at the Concord location for its 30-plus employees. “The team loves it.”
That modern feel includes conference room tables that are ping pong tables. Clients host table tennis tournaments on Fridays. There are also large gathering spaces where happy hours and nonprofit fundraisers sometimes occur and even a 300-person theater.
And it’s all customizable. When Zip Code Wilmington, a nonprofit coding school, wanted its students to be able to write on the walls, The Mill found special paint that made the walls giant white boards.
“You gotta keep showing value,” says Herrera. That value includes allowing companies to outgrow The Mill. Herrera points to Fair Square Financial as one of The Mill’s success stories. The digital credit card company was The Mill’s first major tenant. It started with five people in an office, jumped to 22 in the first year and doubled again the next.
“It was a very flexible model,” says Rob Habgood, president and CEO of Fair Square Financial and head of Ally Credit Cards. The Mill opened space for its growth. The collaborative nature of the space was also appealing, says Habgood.
Conversations in the shared kitchens turned into formal partnerships. Fair Square Financial found its internet provider and possibly an employee or two at The Mill, he says.
“It was fun being in that environment where there are other entrepreneurs thinking outside the box,” says Habgood, whose company was recently purchased by Ally Financial and has moved to its own space.
“We’re a cool place to work,” says Herrera.“I think that’s the future."