Thursday, May 1, 2014

New downtown co-working space will highlight the city's energy and direction

What is the energy in the Grand Rapids business community like?

Mark Custer, Director of Growth Initiatives at Custer, believes it’s a very exciting time to be in the thick of it right now. His family’s business, Custer, is well known in the area for its workspace designs and technology integration, and now Custer will be starting a new venture in June - Worklab by Custer. Worklab will be dedicated to bringing all of the best business accommodations to the hub of the city, accessible to any person or business looking for a new environment to work in. I interviewed him early in May about the specifics of this new workspace.

What audience are you trying to engage with Worklab?

We have designed Worklab for a couple of different audiences. Worklab is not meant to be a typical co-working space, the kind that is springing up right now for startups, individuals, and single workers who need inexpensive office space somewhere outside the home. Worklab is designed for the independent worker who desires privacy but also requires a higher end workspace, with shared accommodations and conference rooms. He/she wants their surroundings to make a good impression on their clients, which Worklab, with its private offices and private enclaves, will accomplish. This space will be classy and mature, better than anything that is on the market now and guaranteed to impress.

Our other potential audience is the larger West Michigan corporation that wants to provide its employees with another place to go to - somewhere downtown and vibrant, where it’s better to network, and easier to meet other people. With its comprehensive technology integration, concierge and food and beverage amenities, Worklab will be a great place to meet clients or host meetings - for a half day, a day, or longer.

What kind of memberships will be available to the public and how can you become a member?

Worklab will have a variety of memberships to choose from: monthly, weekly, or daily memberships, part-time or 24/7. Contact Mark Custer at to become a member.

Who has expressed the most interest in Worklab by Custer?

There has been a significant amount of interest from corporations that want the downtown experience for their workers. And local organizations including nonprofits and local groups have also been enthusiastic about using it for their events.
But we’ve heard from individuals too who are unhappy with their current workspaces or working from home and finding it hard to generate ideas or collaborate in that less stimulating environment.

How many people will be able work in the space available at Worklab at one time?

Worklab will be at 99 Monroe Ave. on the second floor, right off the downtown skywalk. There will be 14 private offices, 30-40 open spaces, and 6 different sized meeting rooms. It has 10,000 square feet, including a cafe area. There will be fitness center access as well for members.

How did you choose this location?

We looked at between 40 and 50 different spaces in West Michigan and felt that this one made the most sense. It’s right downtown, in the center of everything, and connected to the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel and the Marriott by the covered and heated walkways that connect the convention center with the hotels and the Van Andel Arena. As such, it gets plenty of exposure from people walking by. It will be publicly visible and, in itself, a visual space and should get a lot of activity.

This is the implementation of an idea we’ve had at Custer for awhile. We preach mobility to our customers, and real estate maximization. We ask our clients, “How are you using your space? How can your space work harder for you?” We advise them to integrate technology into their spaces for effective visual collaboration. We promote the smarter use of public space and getting rid of wasted space so that their business environments are more efficient, with full access to power and data. With Worklab, Custer is putting our money where our mouth is: we are making use of a smaller, better space for more people and more efficient use.

When does it open?

There is an open house on June 4th, with the ribbon cutting ceremony on June 3rd at 10am. Please join us. We are very excited to show you our new project!

For more information, please like us on Facebook or visit our webpage.
For more information on membership or meeting spaces, contact Mark Custer at