Graef-USA Inc. has installed a new sign at its new headquarters at The Avenue, which the company says will further reinforce its presence in downtown Milwaukee.
The Milwaukee-based engineering and planning firm in late December moved its employees from the city's west side to The Avenue at 275 W. Wisconsin Ave., in the Westown neighborhood. GRAEF is the first office tenant of the former Shops of Grand Avenue mall, which is being converted into offices, apartments and a food hall.
The new exterior wall sign was installed Saturday morning. It looks over the three-way intersection at West Wisconsin Avenue and North Old World Third Street.
Pat Kressin, vice president and principal of GRAEF, said the sign will eventually be lit. Its letters will typically glow white with a green "A" during daytime, then at night they will glow blue with the "A" still green.
However, each individual letter can be customized with different colors, said Kressin. It will be lit differently to reflect the time of year or to celebrate certain events or occasions in the area. For example, it could don the colors of professional sports teams such as the Brewers, Bucks and Packers. The letters could also glow red, white and blue when the Democratic National Convention is in town this July.
Kressin said GRAEF opted for a lit, programmable sign because it reflected the company's culture and its desire to be visible in the community.
"I think for us, we're always really focused on GRAEF's image in our community and what we do for our community. ... That's one of the reasons we moved to Westown, is to be more a part of the greater Milwaukee community than we were," Kressin said.
GRAEF worked with Waukesha-based Innovative Signs Inc. in creating and installing the sign.
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GRAEF is one of a number of employers that have in recent years moved into or closer to downtown Milwaukee in part to help them recruit and retain talent. The shift inward of companies was the subject of a 2019 BizTimes magazine cover story.
Kressin said that so far employees have responded well to the move. He said several have taken advantage of being near several points of interest, such as restaurants and entertainment venues.
"The reaction has been overwhelmingly positive," he said. "It's been great to see all your coworkers leaving for lunch and taking the skywalk system, just going different places."