Shared workspace on Grand Rapids' West Side links Lucid Group, Holland Litho, Boxboom Creative

A small unassuming building at 900 Muskegon Ave. NW is hardly the place one would think great creativity happens, but the olive green-painted brick belies what takes place inside.

Sunshine streams through two walls of storefront windows, brightening the contemporary décor where three companies build their own businesses, plus collaborate on client projects.

Lucid Group's Rick Overway and Matt Wish, Holland Litho sales rep Paul Soltysiak, and Boxboom Creative's Julie Lankes have staked their claims, each in their own far corner of Lucid Group's showroom, desks facing the center, leaving plenty of space in the middle for a meeting of the minds.

Lucid Group specializes in trade show displays and permanent branding installations, like the Welcome Wall at Gerald R. Ford International Airport. Holland Litho offers printing services from brochures to bindery services and more. Boxboom Creative is Julie Lankes's graphic design and marketing firm.

Overway, who bought the building in 2010, worked there alone for several months, using the space as a showroom for his trade show displays. "I've always had the idea this type of collaboration would be beneficial," he says. "I wanted the kind of a place where clients could come and get a lot of different things taken care of without having to go to an advertising agency."

As with many collaborations, the connections at 900 Muskegon happened organically. One by one, the other three moved into the space. Besides working and creating, they use the location for occasional casual "happy hour" gatherings of business associates. A brightly colored conference room in the back provides room for meetings and private consultations.

"Not everyone we work with works with the others here," Soltysiak says, "but it's great for the people who do want all these resources."

All four say the most valuable aspect of the arrangement is how quickly their networking circles expanded.

"My husband and I moved here from Chicago, and I kind of had to start my business over," Lankes says. "These guys are connected to different groups and I can go with them and meet people."

Source: Rick Overway and Matt Wish, Lucid Group; Paul Soltysiak, Holland Litho; Julie Lankes, Boxboom Creative
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor
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