Straight Talk with John Lauriello

We made a statement and a commitment to downtown Birmingham by spending more than $40,000 on a fancy new sign. It says we’re here, we want to stay and this is where we’re located.

Bill McDavid and I, and some of the other old hats, knew downtown worked for us for two reasons:

1. First, we like downtown!

2. Second, we have had a lot to do with downtown being renovated and revived and, something like, 30 or so buildings being saved. 

But we asked the younger 25, 30, 35 year old folks here if this is where they want to be 10 years from now — downtown and here in this building. They said they liked it too, even some folks who had never worked downtown say they like being here.

That was important to me, because when I see what’s going on in this town now, it’s not because of a lot of 70-80 year old folks. It’s because of the younger ones who are taking chances and coming from somewhere else with open eyes that see an opportunity here.

Kids that grew up here and went off to college in Chicago, Boston or California thinking Birmingham was the worst place in the world to live are now coming home and realizing, “Hey, that’s not such a bad place!”  It’s really affordable, and man – there’s a lot of opportunity there if you are willing to think outside the box and take some risks.

That’s the future of this metro area.  It’s not these old hard-heads. It’s younger folks.

But our new sign is modeled after an old neon sign that was on this building in the 20s and 30s. Neon signs were everywhere back then. If you look at old photos of downtown Birmingham, and we have some, there are neon signs on just about every building in downtown.

We do most of our business in metro Birmingham, not Birmingham itself. Probably about 80 percent of our business is within a 30 mile radius of where we are. But it is north, south, east and west.

If we moved south, like so many businesses have, that’s a bigger pain in the fanny to get to the airport, to get to Gadsden, to get to Trussville, Gardendale or Bessemer.

Plus we like seeing people on the street and talking to people other than those who are right here in our office and our building. We interact with a lot of law firms and bankers that are still here.

The bells and whistles are important more so today than ever, but it’s also about human contact.  Especially if you are in sales or in a job when you need to be face to face with some human beings as well as interacting via computers and phones, and iPads, etc.

We’re proud of Birmingham’s downtown. We like being here. It works for us, and our new sign says that.

4 Replies to “Straight Talk with John Lauriello”

  1. Mr. Lauriello,

    We’ve not met, but I work with Tinsley Van Durand and several of your brokers are friends – most notably Andrew Loveman. I have noticed your sign and was excited to see your statement in downtown Birmingham. Like your note above says, I’m also excited and encouraged by what I see happening in Downtown B-Ham. LBVD hopes in the coming years to count ourselves as another company who moves our headquarters downtown. Keep up the good work and please let me know if there’s anything I can do to help you – shameless plug, but I can’t help myself. Take care, Derick Belden

  2. Hi John,
    I noticed your sign and was so excited about everything taking place at Southpace! Many thanks to you and the folks at Southpace on everything that you have done and continue to do for Downtown Birmingham. We love being Downtown Birmingham and look forward to the coming years and transformations that will take place.
    I would love to see you soon and talk about “what’s going on at Southpace”…would love to be a part of your “Branding program” and help out. Purple is actually one of my favorite colors…not to mention that Purple and Gold were my high school colors as well! Please keep us in mind for your logo apparel wear and products. Look forward to seeing you soon!
    Take care,
    Debbie Steen
    Freedom Promotional Products

  3. I think that I had better set up a trip with my friends up here in Amsterdam, to visit Southpace and see this new sign in person.While we are there we might as well visit with some old friends. Keep up the good work John,your “northern” friends are really proud of all you have done!

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