After spending more than 30 years working in the retail and apparel industry as a sourcing and supply chain expert turning around struggling companies like Gymboree and most recently, Lane Bryant, Roland Medrano was at a crossroads. Lane Bryant was up for sale, offering him the opportunity to branch out on his own.
Due to the nature of his career, Medrano, his wife Lisa and their two kids were relocated across the country, moving from the Bay Area to Plano, Texas to Overland Park, Kansas, ultimately settling in Columbus, Ohio. With his kids finally having the opportunity to settle down, he knew they would be reluctant to move again.
“I had a huge decision ahead of me. I could commit to turning around another company, which meant I would have to uproot my family again, or I could change my lifestyle completely and venture out on my own,” said Roland. “I chose the latter after realizing how strong my desire was to stay close to home.”
Medrano opted to spend a few years consulting for a South American retailer based in Medellin, Colombia. Then, in 2014, Roland and Lisa decided it was time to take the leap and look at going out on their own.
“Roland and I discussed starting a business because of our extensive corporate backgrounds in the retail industry,” Lisa said. Prior to being a stay-at-home mom, she spent her career in corporate quality assurance with brands including JCPenney, Speedo and Ralph Lauren. “We explored some options and ultimately landed on the franchise model, deciding that since we hadn't started a business from scratch, it would eliminate blunders and provide a map to follow,” she said.
There were a couple of non-negotiables that the Medranos sought to meet through this transition. First, Roland said, “Our long-term goal was to stay in Columbus, so it was important for us to find a business opportunity that would allow us to root ourselves in the community, giving us visibility.” The second requirement came from a recommendation from their franchise consultant.
“We learned through our initial franchise search that whatever business we chose needed to be something we could imagine ourselves doing,” Roland said. “We were looking at hair salons, cleaning services and even considered purchasing a Subway. We quickly narrowed that list down to a few options, one of which was Office Evolution. The company met a lot of our personal requirements including our desire for regular business hours and constant contact with like-minded professionals,” he said. “Our understanding of office settings and what it takes to have a productive environment made the brand relatable to us,” Lisa added.
Since making the decision to join Office Evolution, the Medranos have grown from one to three locations across the greater Columbus area as it blossomed into the 14th-largest city in the nation.
“There is a great deal of potential here,” Roland said. “Columbus has become a retail mecca for creative designers, with companies like Victoria’s Secret, Bath & Body Works, Abercrombie & Fitch, Justice, Pink and DSW headquartered here. With the addition of another 50,000 students from Ohio State and 5,000 students from other local universities, Columbus is poised for continued growth,” he added.
Through their expanding presence, the Medranos are making meaningful connections in the Columbus-area business community. “When I meet with members and leads, it's easy for me to confidently tell them that our offering provides a professional, productive environment and they'll be successful here,” Lisa said. “Because of Office Evolution’s flexible model and our sheer volume and number of locations, I can have genuine conversations to make sure each person finds a membership option and office solution fit for them. We have a product we’re proud of and one we’ve seen work for so many people,” she said.
And as for the Medrano’s children, while they don’t have immediate plans to get involved in the family business, they are studying English and Economics at Georgetown and Harvard, they find comfort in having a place to call home.