satis&fy, LLC sets up branch in NYC
Interview with Nancy Schacht, Branch Manager satis&fy, LLC New York
satis&fy’s decision to set up a branch office in Portland in 2012 hardly came as a surprise given that Oregon happens to be home to global sports brand Nike, which calls on satis&fy’s services rather frequently in the Americas. It didn’t take long before the production company planted another stateside footprint on the other coast, in New York City. Is satis&fy on a campaign of conquest, the prize being the American market? Or is this move merely a logical consequence of the event service provider’s international business opportunities? True Colours had the opportunity to ask Nancy Schacht, Managing Director of the satis&fy NYC branch.
Nancy, first it was the West Coast; now you‘re back east. Have you settled in yet?
Nancy: After a year and a half soaking up the small-town vibe in Portland, it’s just great to be back in New York’s urban jungle. Portland was wonderful. The city has so much to offer. People are very friendly; the surrounding nature is breathtaking. However, New York has always held great attraction for me. I felt right at home whenever I was in town. New York is just so exciting, so vibrant.
Why add a site on the East Coast?
Nancy: It’s the same concept here as in Portland. We’re not talking about just local projects; we’re talking about an entirely new business opportunity for the whole coastal region. Cities such as Chicago, Boston, Miami, Orlando, and even Toronto immediately come to mind. In the past, we handled all projects in this region from the West Coast. Now we can bring something beyond our service range into play, and that is logistical advantages, especially when it comes to timing and trucking. Besides, New York City is an events and fashion paradise. This new location puts us right in the middle of the action. New York is a hub of innovation, a gathering place for clients, their customers and industry contacts, and potentially a talent pool–all important aspects for us.
What selling points sparked and ultimately sealed the deal for the new NYC branch?
Nancy: On one hand we were thinking about the existing business. Around 50% of US revenue was generated in New York in fiscal 2014. A good example is our client base in Portland. A lot of Nike events actually take place in New York. On the other hand, we were thinking about the many contacts to clients of other satis&fy sites. We want our performance promise, the one-stop solution, to be available in all our markets. A physical branch location in New York is critical to fulfilling that promise.
Why Brooklyn, of all places?
Nancy: Our search for suitable rental space soon zoomed in on Brooklyn. There’s ample space and easy access to both customers and event locations in Manhattan. Brooklyn is an up-and-coming borough as far as social life and networking go. Our staff can live close to the office, which over here means it takes you just thirty to forty minutes to get to work. In a nutshell, all the key factors–customers, suppliers and employees–give us cause to believe in Brooklyn’s long-term prospects. Our building, the wonderfully named Whale Square, is still practically empty. It has six floors with loading docks and warehouses on levels 0/1 and offices above.
Aren‘t you concerned about violence at all?
Nancy: This is 2015 and not the ‘80s. Much to the amazement of many, burning tires and the public spectacle of crime on the streets are no longer the order of the day. Sunset Park, where our office is located, is one of the most popular locations. The adjoining Park Slope area is considered to be the place to live. And there’s still plenty of room. That will surely change within the next five years, so we arrived at the right time. Park Slope is comparable to the hip scene of Prenzlauer Berg in Berlin–more strollers than cars.
Let‘s talk about your day-to-day business: Do you have materials on site or do you source from other companies?
Nancy: Based on our experience so far, we aim to assemble a small pool of material this year. Lighting, small sound systems, and monitors are very much in demand. We have big accounts with smaller jobs, and we have satis&fy’s usual day-to-day business such as exhibits and conferences, especially for smaller companies. Pop-up stores, retail and the like don’t need big event rigs; they need tailored designs and small technical solutions like those found in consumer electronics. That’s also why we started out by setting up a carpentry shop of our own. Almost everything we are asked to provide is exquisite and unusual, so has to be custom-built. At least that’s how it’s been so far. Of course, we also work with our AV Alliance partners in New York, which enables us to deliver the best solutions at shortest notice and guarantee the best prices on the market.
How many people are on site with you at the moment and where are they from?
Nancy: We started out with four of us; surprisingly, all from Portland. It’s a remarkably young team, a mix of Germans and Americans, energetic, with a great love of detail, professional and ambitious, and looking forward to everything that’s coming our way. All are smart enough to find their way in the urban jungle. We also maintain close ties with the Portland team, moving resources and expertise around as needed. satis&fy LLC–that is, Portland and New York City–sees itself as one team, particularly at the project and technical management levels. We are horizontally networked, and very strongly so.
What opportunities for development do you see for the branch and employees?
Nancy: As a startup, we strive to adapt to the New York market, always paying tribute to our roots and our brand promise. It’s early in this next step so we still have to rely on the help and input of experienced satis&fy team members. That said, though, we also need new ideas and cultural know-how to keep getting better on the American market. Project-driven employee exchanges come in handy here. The first trainee swap with Werne will take place in May. And the company-wide Nike team helped us out in February. As I had mentioned, the Portland and New York branches do this every day. We count on Portland to share its experience, know-how and structures. There’s a lot of video and phone conferencing. The team gains insight into many facets of the company, and can help shape and drive the business. I see great development opportunities in terms of language and culture. The consensus among employees that spent more time here–and I can speak for Portland as well– is that they take away a great deal from this experience and that overseas office work expands their horizons, culturally and on a personal level with the advances they’ve made in improving their English.
How are the projects going?
Nancy: We’ve been at it full throttle since early January, for example, with the NBA All-Star Weekend in February, where we handled diverse projects for Nike and the Jordan brand. The next peak will be coming up in April with the Jordan Brand Classic.
What are local clients like? Are there differences between the East and West Coasts?
Nancy: I can’t say for certain just yet because the spectrum is still too small. The people of both coastal regions are thought to be liberal, diverse, and open-minded. But the dialect is a bit different.
What’s next? Where do you expect this branch to be in the-not-so distant future?
Nancy: We see the same potential here in New York as in Portland, and we’re working strategically to achieve the same success. Our storage and office space is ready to accommodate this growth. satis&fy has always focused on making our client’s shine. This goal is what brought us to Portland, and ultimately to NYC. Our focus will remain the same, and we anticipate this approach will lead to sustainable, profitable operations in both locations.
When you started out at satis&fy, even in your wildest dreams, could you have imagined ending up in NYC?
Nancy: I’ve been with satis&fy for four and a half years. I joined in Berlin, and then toured through all branches. I embraced the idea of the one-stop solution on a personal level. When I moved to Portland, I had my mind set on staying for at least five years, but as always with satis&fy everything changes, and faster than you expect. So it didn’t take me long to pack my things for NYC. The way I see it, New York is an opportunity that didn’t come by dreaming about it. I believe it’s much more the result of hard work in a great team, which enabled me to step up to New York. I’ve always been very determined and I see New York as a great platform for putting my ideas and energy into action on behalf of the satis&fy Group. I am looking forward to this opportunity and say, ‘challenge accepted.’