Project Highlight – Organic Valley

On May 14, 2013, the main section of Organic Valley’s office building in La Farge, WI was destroyed by a fire.  Thankfully, the fire occurred at the end of the business day and nobody was hurt.  Company leadership, however, was left with the responsibility of not only finding homes for their employees to work, but to begin the process of designing and planning a rebuild of their work space.

After careful consideration, Organic Valley’s Facilities Department, led by Mark Pfeiffer, Sarah Jaiteh and Michael Schneider chose to partner with Schroeder Solutions to begin the design process. The talented OV team brought creative, new ideas and a vision for the future of their company to Schroeder Solutions.  Based on those ideas, the design teams at Schroeder Solutions and AIS created color renderings of numerous workstation typicals.

After narrowing down their choices, mock-ups for 15 people were ordered and installed at Organic Valley’s headquarters in an area not hit by the fire, so employees could experience their new work environments first-hand and make changes to the final layout.  In the end, the team incorporated a blend of low walls, no walls, free form workstations and private offices with height-adjustability options for all employees as well as numerous touchdown and collaborative areas.

The thoughtful attention to detail combined with access to natural light and a bright color palette provides employees with an inspiring and invigorating wellness-focused work environment.  Schroeder Solutions then helped to successfully coordinate the move and relocation of Organic Valley employees from a variety of temporary office locations into their new and improved headquarters.


AIS Divi, Compete and Calibrate
Milliken Carpet Tile
Teknion Tables
Grand Rapids Chair


Interior Design & Space Planning
Project Management
Relocation & Move Coordination

The level of customer service your team delivered has exceeded my expectations. From the very beginning everyone was very focused on our needs.  We are very pleased overall with the quality of the furniture installation and the performance of your team.  They have all gone above and beyond to exceed our expectations.  The work environment they helped us create has already been receiving praise from our staff as informal tours make their through the building.  We are very grateful!” Michael Schneider – Organic Valley Workplace Strategy Program Manager

About Organic Valley: Independent and Farmer-Owned

Organic Valley is America’s largest cooperative of organic farmers and one of the nation’s leading organic brands. Organized in 1988, it represents 1,844 farmers in 36 states. Focused on its founding mission of saving family farms through organic farming, Organic Valley produces a variety of organic foods, including organic milk, soy, cheese, butter, spreads, creams, eggs, and produce, which are sold in supermarkets, natural foods stores and food cooperatives nationwide. With its regional model, milk is produced, bottled and distributed right in the region where it is farmed to ensure fewer miles from farm to table and to support our local economies. For further information visit Organic Valley is also on Twitter @OrganicValley and Facebook

Workplace Trends: #7 – Space is defined by work style not status

The evolution of the office environment has seen great changes, and as technology advances as well as transforms in shape and size, corporate interiors will only continue to morph in new directions.

Workspace is defined by work style not status

Workspace is defined by work style not status

One of the most evident shifts has been the breaking down of barriers at all levels of the corporate structure, starting with the office walls. Less enclosed offices and lower workstation panels are opening lines of communication. Executives are now in the mix, sometimes literally in the middle of the office in a workstation. Big decisions often happen out in the open now in a collaborative area rather than behind closed doors.

These blurred hierarchical lines have changed the office dynamic, as have the demographics of the typical corporate team. Multiple generations engaging in the workplace require spaces that accommodate varying needs and work habits. In essence, office space is now defined by work style rather than status. Designing office environments with product solutions that address a variety of work styles as well as support both collaboration and a need for privacy creates a dynamic workspace. This shifts the focus from the title of the people doing the work to the caliber of the work being completed. Designing for style rather than status makes a powerful statement about the 21st Century Office.

Buzzword: Collaboration – Planned Collisions

Isn’t it exciting when you bump into someone you haven’t seen in awhile? You quickly reminisce, catch up and engage enthusiastically for the few minutes that you have. Or what about just bumping into your best friend unexpectedly? You can ask him that question now instead of calling, texting, or emailing later. Exciting things happen when people collide, so why not plan possibilities for collisions into your work environment?

Planned collisions are design strategies that support collaboration in work environments. This goes beyond your morning coffee, a minute at the “water cooler” or your lunch break. Planning circulation paths and spaces that “force” people to collide throughout the day creates multiple opportunities for informal collaboration. This allows people from different disciplines to connect despite the location of their office. These collisions can lead to inspiring moments of innovation or simply a stronger sense of community within the corporation.

Planned Collisions


Does your workplace encourage collaboration?

  • Do all meetings get booked in meeting rooms?
  • If you stood up in your office could you see more than 4 people?
  • Do you talk to the people around you? Or are they hidden all day behind their panel walls?
  • Are there more places to have a lunch and coffee than your office and the cafeteria?
  • Are there any spaces in your workplace to leave a thought behind?
  • How close are you to a quick, impromptu meeting space?


When it comes to successful planning collaborative spaces into your work environment consider the following:

  • Find a balance
  • Make it visible
  • Set off sparks
  • Plan collisions
  • Meet quick
  • Efficient use of space
  • Promote sharing
  • Flexibility is key
  • Create a buzz
  • Invite them
  • Address virtual distance
  • Know thyself

Remember – Exciting things happen when people collide! If you need help planning for collaboration contact Schroeder Solutions

Alvarez, Watt, Werner & Kuhn Talk “Doing Good is Good Business” at ESPN Event

Though I may not be the world’s biggest sports fan, I can certainly appreciate being in the presence of 4 great sports figures at the Doing Good is Good Business Event sponsored by ESPN Milwaukee this past March.  Barry Alvarez, John Kuhn, Teddy Werner and JJ Watt all took turns answering questions about their careers, family, community involvement, and how they keep it all together.

Alvarez, Kuhn, Werner & Watt talk about the business of doing good.

Alvarez, Kuhn, Werner & Watt talk about the business of doing good.


It was humbling and inspirational to hear the wonderful things these men had to say about the state of Wisconsin – namely the Milwaukee, Madison and Green Bay areas.  These guys have done some impressive work in the community and truly make a difference in people’s lives.

Alvarez takes his seat first at the event

Alvarez takes his seat first at the event

Though all the men had exceptional stories and words of wisdom, I felt the most  most profound advice came from Alvarez.  When asked about how he copes with a loss, he stated that he tries to remember that as a leader, your team (or employees) are going to take their cue from you.  If you come in the day after a loss with your head down, defeated, your team is going to mimic your attitude.  If you come in ready to do work, and do what it takes to come up with the next big win, your team will model that.


On a separate topic – Schroeder was honored to provide the furniture for the VIP section at the event.  I got to take pre-party sneak peak and snap a few pics of Teknion DNA poised and ready to “live it up” with the athletes and guests of honor.

Schroeder Solutions provided the furniture for the guests to lounge in the VIP section of the event.

Schroeder Solutions provided the furniture for the guests to lounge on in the VIP section of the event.

Media coverage of the event by The Business Journal