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Thursday, Nov 30, 2023

Scorpion’s HQ

Can a new building breath fresh life into a company? Yes, according to Scorpion, the digital ad agency in Valencia that recently moved into a 100,000-square-foot office building to accommodate its fast growth. Matthew Shepherd, the agency’s chief financial officer, said the difference between its former space and new headquarters has already impacted employees. Take, for instance, the meeting rooms now available to staff teams. There had been only three at the old space in the Valencia Corporate Plaza whereas now there are 18 meeting spaces, from conference rooms to lounges, in the four-story building on Entertainment Drive near the Six Flags Magic Mountain theme park. “That alone is such a big relief,” Shepherd said. “They can grab one of these rooms and quickly brief each other, talk out a problem, things like that. That is huge.” The more than 400 employees of Scorpion based in Valencia made the move to the new headquarters last month. They left behind space in two buildings on Avenue Stanford for one that includes a full-service coffee shop, indoor and outdoor dining areas, a restaurant-style cafeteria, a half-size basketball court, a game lounge and a fitness center. The court and gym feature inspirational messages as employees exercise. The building, which broke ground just about a year ago, is a twin on the exterior to the building next door – the headquarters for citrus marketing cooperative Sunkist Growers Inc. Still, said Holly Schroeder, chief executive of the Santa Clarita Economic Development Corp., while it may look the same from the outside the inside couldn’t be any more different. “It really demonstrates their creativity in how they designed that space to fit the needs of their business and their employees,” said Schroeder, referring to Scorpion. The agency creates websites, online videos and digital advertising and social media campaigns for clients in the legal, health care and home services industries. In addition to Valencia, it has offices in Colorado, New York and Texas. The firm was founded in 2001 by Rustin Kretz, who still serves as chief executive. In August it expanded by acquiring Driven Local, a similar digital agency in New York. Construction dream Scorpion became aware of the vacant land on Entertainment Drive about five years ago but at the time the owner, LNR Partners of Miami Beach, Fla., was not quite ready to build on it. It was also not a good time for Scorpion to have bought it as the company was much smaller then and did not need all the space a new building would provide. It would have required some tenant partners or a developer to come on board to build it out, Shepherd said. “One hundred thousand square feet was far beyond anything that we anticipated we would ever be able to use or occupy,” he added. In the meantime, the company continued its search for new space in the Santa Clarita Valley. It wanted to stay there because that is where many of its employees live. It looked at vacant land and vacant buildings in office parks. But these sites were not a good fit – either too big or too small, or too far away or needing too much work, Shepherd said. Then in early 2016, LNR put the Entertainment Drive property back on the market and by then Scorpion had grown enough in both revenue and employee count that buying it was a realistic option. The negotiations went smoothly on the purchase, Shepherd said. “We knew then that we’d be able to use half or maybe 75 percent of the building, and it made sense to pursue it,” he added. Interior design The building employs the open office concept. Employee work areas are situated on the exterior toward the windows while the few private offices and meetings rooms are in the interior. The open office idea is not unique to Scorpion; it is a trend found in many office environments, both new construction and renovations. “It proves to be more productive if people have a higher degree of integration and involvement with their co-workers,” Shepherd said. Cara MacArthur, director of interiors in the Los Angeles office of architecture and design firm HOK, agreed that the open office concept was still popular but one that is seeing some pushback. “With open plans we were always hearing the feedback of ‘Where is the manager?’ or ‘Where is my staff?’ ‘I cannot find anyone because we are in this big sea of open plan,’” MacArthur said. The amenities that Scorpion has put in are part of the open office approach. For example, one aspect is an emphasis on wellness and healthy living and that is where the height-adjustable workstations and half-court basketball court come into play, MacArthur said. “All of that is to help people get moving, and a big push for wellness,” she added. The height-adjustable workstations were made part of the new building because there had been an increasing number of requests for them from employees, Shepherd said. Being able to change their physical work position is particularly important for a company like Scorpion where employees spend a lot of time in front of a computer or on the phone, he added. “They can sit when they want, they can stand when they want, they can walk around with telephone headsets,” Shepherd said. “We want to encourage the movement and keeping bodies from being sedentary because that is not healthy.”

Mark Madler
Mark Madler
Mark R. Madler covers aviation & aerospace, manufacturing, technology, automotive & transportation, media & entertainment and the Antelope Valley. He joined the company in February 2006. Madler previously worked as a reporter for the Burbank Leader. Before that, he was a reporter for the City News Bureau of Chicago and several daily newspapers in the suburban Chicago area. He has a bachelor’s of science degree in journalism from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

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