Bader Rutter settles into new downtown Milwaukee digs

Open office structure along Milwaukee River offers staff many working options [PHOTO GALLERY]

CEO Greg Nickerson wanted to create a boutique hotel feel when you walk into the new office.

Last updated on May 15th, 2019 at 04:57 pm

After 38 years, Bader Rutter has returned to its original roots in downtown Milwaukee.

The marketing firm relocated to the former Laacke & Joys site at 1433 N. Water St. about three weeks ago, anchoring the new mixed-use development by Wauwatosa-based Wangard Partners.

The firm is leasing 60,000 square feet on the first, second and part of the third floors, with about 30 percent of its space in the original 1925 building.

Moving close to 240 employees from Brookfield to downtown Milwaukee was a decision chief executive officer Greg Nickerson did not take lightly, but something he has wanted to do for more than five years.

After surveying the market for several years but ultimately deciding leasing three floors in an office tower was not the right move for him, Nickerson signed a two-year extension in Bishops Woods.

Then he met with Stu Wangard and heard about the Laacke & Joys  project he was putting together.

“We wanted something different and unique,” Nickerson said. “The idea of connecting a 90-year-old building with something new was something I loved. It is nod to the past with a huge nod to the future.”

Bader Rutter was founded in 1974, and began in downtown Milwaukee before relocating to Brookfield in 1979, as one of Bishops Woods’ first tenants.

“This was never about what was wrong with Brookfield, but what was right for our company,” Nickerson said. “We knew this would be a bit of a pain for some of our employees who were going to have to commute, but even they know, this is was the right move for our company.”

During the first few weeks downtown, clients have visited from out of state and have been impressed with both the open concept office – there are only four private offices which are used for human resources and accounting – and the city of Milwaukee.

From now until June 6, 25 to 30 more clients from North Carolina, Arizona, Ohio and New Jersey will be attending meetings at Bader Rutter.

“Last week two of the three people here had never been to Milwaukee and they were blown away. They said it was a smaller Chicago but much easier to get around,” Nickerson said. “This is how we grow the city.”

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