What Does Your Office Say About You?
Huff Harper wanted his office space to evoke a different kind of conversation—nothing related to academic accomplishments or certificates on the wall affirming his qualifications or years of industry experience. Instead, he wanted it to tell a story.
“When we moved into our new location, my walls were bare for about two months,” says the vice president of Oswalt Restaurant Supply in Oklahoma City, Okla. “Everyone else had already moved in but I didn’t want to do anything until I could figure out how to integrate my love for family and my passion into a space that I could feel good about.”
Now, his walls speak volumes about who he is. Among the dozens of iconic classic rock album covers, framed in the shape of a guitar, an autographed photo of legend Steve Miller holds a place of prominence, along with other famous guitarists—the Cars’ Elliott Easton and Mike Campbell of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. There’s also a ticket stub and album from the first concert Harper attended, Cheap Trick.
“Most of the offices I’ve seen in the industry are what you’d expect to find,” says Harper, an avid musician who plays guitar for a local band. “In this day and age of stiff competition and constant change, I just think it’s important to say something different…to identify with our customers and our vendors on another level. My office says, ‘This is my passion outside of work. Get to know me and we’re going to do business together,’ which is a lot more interesting than ‘Hey, I sell refrigerators.’”
What’s been most gratifying is the response. Harper’s office has become a communal space, where others in the industry can donate their album covers and other memorabilia to temporarily display on the wall. “It’s neat that what I’ve created has moved others to participate,” says Harper. “I’ve had several reps send me things and my staff enjoys having a say in what gets displayed. One day, I had someone from purchasing point out that I didn’t have any Pink Floyd on the wall and then she handed me an album.”
The biggest takeaway is the affirmation that customers will notice a standout. They’re literally drawn to Harper’s—which sits right off of the showroom floor. “As customers are walking through, they gravitate to my office and I’ll see them trying to look in,” says Harper. “It opens the door to a lot of interaction and gives me an opportunity to introduce myself and invite them in. It’s been a great way of connecting with people.”