JKS is preparing for a move back to Winston-Salem in the coming months in order to fuel the company’s innovative spirit as it continues to evolve its capabilities in building brands through experiential marketing. It’s a move that Will and I are excited about for our company, our team and our creativity.
The move to Industry Hill on the northern edge of Downtown Winston-Salem brings the company full circle. JKS started here and the Spencer family has owned property along Liberty Street for generations. In fact, for years JKS was one of the few businesses in that area of the city, putting us at the very forefront of Downtown’s revitalization. As people have heard me say, “Will and JKS were downtown before it was cool to be downtown.” For Will, the connection to this part of downtown is deeply personal.
“Liberty Street and the Industry Hill neighborhood holds a special place for me because my great-grandfather, grandfather and father all had businesses within blocks of each other on Ivy Avenue. I grew up working in this area. In fact, my first job was a bag boy at Joe Choplin’s grocery store at the corner of Trade and 7th Street. When I started my business in 1984, I needed a building and it just so happened the Booe building was available and affordable. Everyone told me I was crazy … but this area just feels like home to me.” — Will Spencer
Twelve years ago, though, our business model was very different than today. At that time, our clients contracted us to deploy large-scale mobile operations. Our Liberty Street facility simply could not accommodate the fleet of vehicles that we required.
So for the last 12 years, we have enjoyed a wonderful space down the road in Welcome. However, looking forward, it made sense to return to our roots and bring the company back into this amazing creative culture that is thriving in and around downtown W-S.
The revitalized space at 876 North Liberty Street will give JKS the square footage it needs to continue producing banners, signage, vehicle wraps, and mobile exhibits. We have also acquired another property nearby to house our mobile fleet.
It’s not just about coming back to our roots but also reconnecting with our neighbors and doing more of what we all truly love to do. JKS is a company that designs, builds and creates amazing experiences. Whether they are exhibits for big brands or a grand opening banner for a local business, that’s what we’re about.
With marketing industry trends shifting towards smaller pop-up style mobile exhibits and smaller footprints, our company has had to innovate and develop strategies to fulfill those needs.
“From the early days, JKS has been about doing whatever it takes to meet the clients’ needs. And that has not changed. The industry itself has changed in that marketing campaigns no longer require a fleet of vehicles. Smaller and contained units are now just as effective as multiple 53’ trailers. So our model has changed to accommodate industry needs.” — Will Spencer
Those industry shifts have been the best thing to happen to JKS. We took a fresh look at our own internal structure and revamped how we do business. It opened up so many opportunities for us when we started thinking of ourselves as a creative company versus a manufacturer or a production house for a large corporate sponsor.
This change in thinking has turned out to fit perfectly with the evolution of the company’s leadership. With me (Christy) having moved into the role of company president some time ago, we are focusing on building relationships with new clients, collaborating with other businesses and fine-tuning our operational capabilities.
The move and evolving roles also open up new avenues for Will to focus more on projects that allow him to push the envelope creatively.
“I love a new project and I love to push the envelope on what is possible. From building the facility in Welcome to revitalizing the Liberty Street buildings, it’s always been about doing something interesting and a little different. I’ve always marched to the beat of my own drum., which allows me to think outside the box and take chances. When I decided to take the Liberty Street buildings out of “mothballs” I knew right away that I wanted a brewery in part of the building complex. I had many people approach me with other ideas, but I held out until the right opportunity presented itself. Christy says I have the ability to manifest things – and she may be right.” — Will Spencer
As for our Industry Hill return, coming back to our Liberty Street space does not mean squeezing back into close quarters. The original facility had never been fully renovated and we had made do at the time, which meant a make-shift breakroom and very limited bathroom space.
With major renovations earlier in 2019 and additional upgrades underway now, the 1927 Booe building is already much more beautiful than it ever was. Will has kept the integrity of the building’s original design but has upgraded it to feel more like an amazing open workspace you would see in New York City.
“I wanted to preserve the original hardwood floors, keep the character of the brick and stucco walls but leaving some of the brick exposed. I even found a way to build in an original door as part of a wall. I love old buildings because they have a story to tell but they don’t have a voice to tell it. You kind of have to dig a little and figure it out like a puzzle.” — Will Spencer
JKS leadership, administration, creative services and production will be the first to make the move, with fabrication and other specialties slated to move within a year. Some employees have been with JKS for 20 years. And they are as excited to get back to downtown as Will and I.
Ultimately, the move is good for the company, for our team, our culture, our clients and our future.
We’ll post updates about the renovations and the move along the way. Follow us on Instagram for a closer look at @jksincorporated.