When he left his job at a large pharmaceutical company in his early twenties for the chance to start his own engineering company, Tom Miller never looked back. “I’m an entrepreneur at heart,” he said. Miller’s career followed the small business route to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where he joined electrical engineering company ESCO Group. As Miller rose through the ranks at the company to eventually become a partner at the firm, he never lost his passion for advancing small businesses. It’s no wonder that after being exposed to the Office Evolution experience, Miller was quick to introduce the shared office space franchise to his Cedar Rapids community.
“When I started with the ESCO Group in 2001, there were only 12 engineers on staff,” Miller said. “I quickly realized the company had potential. I ended up serving as director of operations and business development, helping to grow the company from a 15-employee firm to a 45-employee firm in three years,” Miller noted.
As a part of that growth, Miller was expanding the company’s reach and placing a group of engineers in Colorado when he first encountered Office Evolution. “I was looking for space for the business to reside and my research led me to Office Evolution,” Miller said. “Their model negated the necessity of brick-and-mortar to expand, which gave us an easy way to grow.”
In his continued dealings with Office Evolution, Miller became more and more impressed by the company's culture. “Our company places a strong emphasis on culture and employee environment,” he said. “As soon as I walked into Office Evolution, the Business Center Manager was there greeting me. I probably visited eight different locations in Colorado and experienced the same positivity at each. Their focus on culture and small business development really stood out.”
Upon his return to Cedar Rapids, Miller started talking to community members and quickly discovered small businesses needed a place to operate. It was then, he said, “The light bulb went off.” Calling upon his entrepreneurial spirit, business acumen and drive to be a small business advocate, Miller opened his Cedar Rapids, Iowa Office Evolution location in April 2018, with his wife Melissa, a former schoolteacher, as his Business Center Manager.
“Tom was an excellent franchise candidate for Office Evolution because of his passion for growing and supporting the small business community,” Office Evolution founder and CEO Mark Hemmeter said. “Our shared commitment to culture made it a great fit. Coupled with the fact Tom was motivated by the opportunity to open the first business center in the state, he and Melissa brought our business to a market that would really benefit from our services.”
For Miller, Office Evolution’s most unique characteristic is its ability to serve a clientele that other shared office space concepts neglect. “A lot of coworking space across the country is focused on startups and entrepreneurs that are just beginning business operations,” he said. “Office Evolution fills the gap between brick-and-mortar and coworking space. The offering focuses on middle ground, small businesses that are established and want to be seen at that next level of professionalism.”
As for his favorite aspect of owning his own franchise, Miller called back to his passion for supporting other small business owners. “Meeting new people and finding out about new businesses is the best part of the Office Evolution experience,” Miller said. “I love hearing about how people got started and their background; and working with the corporate team has been really positive. Fueling idea generation through strong culture is another great part of the equation,” he said.