50 Years: Just the Beginning
Grubb & Ellis National Meeting
Grubb & Ellis, an International Commercial Real Estate and Investment firm held its National Meeting, a 3500 person conference spanning three days, annually in Las Vegas each January. On the dawn of its 50th year, the Chicago-based company was bought by a relatively small real estate firm in California and taken public. A spunky, assertive, and in some ways controversial CEO took his place at the helm of the company, and executive management was merged from both the legacy firm and the purchasing firm. A new era was imminent, yet for a company who had been building its culture for half a century - it was essential that traditions were not completely lost.
The balance of celebrating the company’s strong past, yet ushering in the goals for a new future became the primary focus for the upcoming National Meeting. The same production company had been working on the event for nearly a decade, and had unfortunately started to plateau in the innovation department. With a very clear message of change and growth required, the Director of National Events felt strongly that a fresh approach was needed in order to turn the event on its head a bit. ZOē Productions was thrilled to be selected, and planning for the event began only four and a half months before the conference was scheduled.
Within that short span, new sponsorship packages were developed and executed, a new layout and site plan for the conference was created, fire marshal plans were approved, a fresh food and beverage plan was implemented, an online registration site was established, conference branding was built and all collateral and promotional items were printed, union meetings occurred, crew schedules planned, custom sets created, and the design for a celebration like none other the company had seen was pitched and put into action.
The event kicked off with an upbeat welcome reception, but the opening general session was truly the first opportunity to communicate the goals and tone of the next generation of the company. Here’s how the story was told…
Grubb & Ellis National Meeting
The guests entered a ballroom set in a manner they were rather familiar with: it was the same pipe and drape backdrop with two projection screens and wooden podium they had been seeing at the conference for years. A video rolled as the lights went black… ZOē had traveled with a small crew around the country and interviewed the company’s founder, the leadership team, and the brokers who had worked to build the company over the years. As they shared their memories and perspectives, the story was interspersed with 3D animations to add historical context and outline the milestones the company achieved.
As it felt that the video was wrapping up and the first speaker might take the stage, the tone shifted, and a powerful dialogue began to lay forth a few simple goals: it was time to innovate, to hold tight to the legacy of the company, to collaborate to create new traditions. It was time to transition to a new chapter for Grubb & Ellis. At the apex of the message - the entire run of pipe and drape dropped instantaneously and a 50’ wide screen and new set were revealed. Motion graphics raced across the main screen (now blended with the side projection screens), lights pulsed, and the music swelled… all to represent a new era, and ring in a new future. The CEO took the stage to deliver his first address to an audience filled with excitement and energy. He was excited to be leading the company, he knew there were hurdles to overcome in the merging of two very different cultures, and he very much hoped this conference could be the opportunity to get to know one another and begin on a strong foundation. Thankfully it did just that.
FEATURES AND STATS OF THE EVENT:
- 3500 guests representing every state in the United States, as well 3 international locations
- A keynote address by Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Alan Greenspan
- 3 main general sessions
- Multi-camera video production feeding the screens and a live stream
- 30 breakout meetings and educational sessions
- An offsite Manager’s Dinner
- A handful of private executive & VIP dinners
- A sponsor pavilion with a record 25 partners participating
- A 50th Anniversary Gala on the closing evening. The company had begun in the late 1950’s, and the gala was themed in a ‘Hot Rod’ fashion to celebrate its roots. The same room in which the guests attended the general session earlier that morning, was transformed within 6 hours to an immersive and interactive ‘garage’ filled with hot cars, pin-up gals in mechanics getups, industrial decor, and a headline performance by George Thorogood, who played Bad to the Bone to a packed house