Johansons Mentor Small Business, Build ‘Incubator’

by Talk Business & Politics ([email protected]) 71 views 

When brothers Bruce and Blair Johanson built their first office in 2000, they deliberately made it larger than their human resources consulting business required. They employ six people now and there are 16 offices in the building.

The business model was to lease additional space to other small businesses with one or two employees and provide centralized business services like a photocopier, conference room and break room.

That model has worked just fine, but the setup proved to be a fluke that resembles one man carrying a jar of peanut butter running into another with a chocolate bar: synergies abound.

Bruce Johanson, principal of Fayetteville’s Johanson Group, said the two eventually realized that tenants were tapping into their expertise and long-term business acumen, striking up conversations in the hallway and asking for unofficial advice or direction.

The Johanson Group specializes in helping companies with personnel, marketing, strategic planning and financial management along with job evaluation and compensation planning.

The brothers were always more than happy to share what they could with their tenants to help them grow, which seems counter intuitive since tenants that grew tended to find larger offices.

So when the Johansons decided to build another office building down the street, they decided to more or less duplicate their model and make it more of an official small business incubator.

“Our concept is to have people who can’t work from home,” Bruce Johanson said, like lawyers, Realtors, franchisors and retail suppliers.

Tenants will lease an office — the brothers are discussing rates in the $400 to $450 range — and get use of the common areas, Internet access and other infrastructure. But the added value will come in the two to three hours per month the Johansons sit down with the client and help them with whatever they need to discuss.

“What we have seen in the past is, if they are a new business, they don’t know what to charge, how to do some networking, how to promote themselves,” said Bruce Johanson.

But the brothers will also “do some financials” and look at overhead and organization techniques and try to help their tenant/clients on “how to stay afloat.”

David Roth, president of WorkMatters in Fayetteville, officed in Johansons’ Appleby Business Center for about a year.

“They most definitely reached out a hand when WorkMatters was launched,” Roth said. “They were very gracious and accommodating with me. It was really informal and not planned and they would sit down and brainstorm with me.”

Roth called the two “humble servant leaders.”

“When you call them they drop what they’re doing and work with you,” he said.

Steve Hailey, an insurance agent and co-owner of Armstrong-Hailey Insurance in Fayetteville, leased space from the Johansons for six months. Armstrong-Hailey now employs eight people and uses about 2,800 SF of space.

“For me it was a great temporary location for a growing business. If I hadn’t partnered up, I would’ve been there a couple of years,” Hailey said.

The Johanson’s new office will be about 5,000 SF and is located on McKee Street, almost directly behind Herman’s Ribhouse in Fayetteville.

The two said the building should be ready for occupancy by the beginning of the year.