Behind the Curtain: Coyote Logistics

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If you find yourself at the Green Exchange Building in Chicago, consider heading up to the third and fourth floors to take a peek at Coyote Logistics. There you’ll find the fastest-growing logistics company in the United States working in nearly 100,000 incredible square feet of space designed by the firm Partners by Design (PBD).

Coyote fosters a culture of youth, energy and tenacity. And it was imperative to the company that their headquarters reflected these values. The space is an airy office environment in a loft building with open ceilings and a communicating steel staircase connecting their two floors together. The kitchen was designed to create impromptu social gathering space complemented by an adjacent game room for employees to recharge their batteries. All aspects of the design support Coyote’s energy, vision and “no excuses” mantra.

Coyote Kitchen
Coyote Kitchen

Inside the Space

At the very onset of the project, CEO Jeff Silver stressed, “we want to foster the Coyote “Buzz.” People on the phone, work happening, energy flowing, negotiation taking place… these were all characteristics Jeff mentioned. PBD’s direction in short: “Foster the ‘buzz’ and give us space that enhances and complements it.”

Technology is imperative to their business. Specifying CPUs, flat screens, and basic work environments is easy. But connecting these to a high-speed network that allows for flexibility in desk layout was a challenge. Employees will be tethered to an outlet, power pole or floor core until wireless technology becomes faster, more reliable, and able to handle larger bandwidths desk / CPUs / Monitors. So the Coyote space balanced this by strategically placing power and network connectivity points throughout the space, thereby allowing for standard desks to easily be moved, reconfigured, and resized to accommodate the continual enlargements and reductions in teams and departments.

No Panel System
Zero Panels

Knowing that natural light improves productivity and efficiency, PBD created a “U” shaped floor plan that lends itself to large amounts of perimeter windows. With limited private office space and large amounts of open office desking with zero workstation panels, the design was able to capitalize on the available natural light. One can stand in the middle of approximately 25,000 square feet of broker desks and see windows and natural light from two sides of the space.

If typical office space is 1 person to 100 square feet, then Coyote’s is 1 person to 50 square feet. Maybe not quite that extreme (code was met), but special provisions, door widths and stair widths were reviewed and adjusted to provide adequate egress from the space. The density of the space is achieved with a standard desk configuration well planned into an old building with short column spacing. The density enhances the buzz but had to be balanced with minor acoustical treatment to the ceiling.

Beyond the Space

Coyote grows 15-30% each year, partly because they seem to reinvent themselves over and over. They had been hiring college graduates at very rapid rate and, at the same time, was goes through an intensive re-branding effort.  Everything was being re-thought — from logo imaging to conference room walls, t-shirts, and keychains that employees carry.

The Chicago Tribune then named them the mid-size company to work for. Political officials got involved thanks to the positive impact on real-estate development (Green Exchange Building becomes successful development) and community development (job creation and betterment of community).

These back-to-back events took the project from an initial 30,000 square foot projection through 112,000. So that meant more room — the 5th floor penthouse!

The additional space is to be immediately occupied by IT operations and software developers. It embodies the idea of work hard play hard. One third of the space will be social “party” space while two thirds of the space is dedicated to flexible, reconfigurable, collaboration spaces for employees.Based around the direction to “Create an F-ing cool space on a limited budget,” the challenge now becomes how to creatively deliver design to the constraints of every project: budget and schedule.

And, unsurprisingly, future spaces in nearby buildings also are being considered for further expansion.

The Media Response

  • Coyote News
  • [Chicago Sun-Times] January 10, 2012 Coyote Logistics — a fast-growing technology start-up company that moves freight across North America — is adding 400 new jobs and playing a key role in Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s makeover of the Chicago City Colleges.
  • Coyote Employees to Develop College Curriculum [NBC 5 Chicago]
  • Coyote Logistics Will Add 400 Jobs to Chicago
  • Coyote: Best Corporate Rebrand of 2011 [Identity Works]
  • Coyote Named Top Workplace by Chicago Tribune
  • Jeff Silver Named Entrepreneur Of The Year 2011 Midwest Award [Ernst & Young LLP]
  • Coyote Selects Green Exchange in Chicago as New Headquarters [PRWeb]
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