OBEC and DOWL
The external broadcast of our merger went out today, including an email blast (more than 3900 people opened and read it in the first couple hours), web page update (633 visitors today - a 3000% increase in 'normal' daily traffic), social media posts, a postcard, and a press release (the DJC already responded with intent to run a story). People are sharing the news - interestingly, Kittelson staff forwarded the email notice to about 200 people! Then, Nick Polenske and Cody Mitchell presented at the APWA Oregon conference in Canyonville to build the excitement and momentum, leading a session on “Keys to Successful TPARP Application”. Thanks to Nick and Cody for representing OBEC and sharing their expertise among our local professional community! Overall, seven people from OBEC attended the conference. Our booth was a popular destination for clients, teaming partners, and vendors looking to learn more about the merger.
On Page 18 of the official merger Q&A document, my comment was printed in its entirety:
Page | 18
Dear Larry and Stewart,
I am sure that you will receive many types of feedback as you guide OBEC and DOWL through this merger. Let me assure you that this is positive feedback, not negative. I respect your experience, research, and decision-making authority. In the midst of the many different considerations that both of you have grappled with, I sincerely hope that you have created a plan for respecting and preserving OBEC's storied history and legacy. As a marketing major, I understand why it is necessary to eventually consolidate the entire merged company under the DOWL brand. I also understand why it will be beneficial to transition the entire company to using DOWL intranet systems and processes.
However, I have grown up (as have many others) with OBEC as a household name. Even though the minds of OBEC employees understand that the heart of the company is in its people (and not its name), my training in psychology assures me that OBEC will be severely missed in the heart of its team members (I am already hoarding as much OBEC-branded paraphernalia as possible, in order to reflect warmly on the humble beginnings of such an influential company).
Here is my suggestion: In order to avoid or reduce the emotional heartbreak of losing the iconic OBEC brand in the minds of its employees, create a simple display in the Eugene office that tells the story of OBEC's history through employee photos, samples of original letterhead, examples of logo changes, and images of OBEC's most proudest projects (such as the fine portrait of the Defazio Pedestrian Bridge hanging upstairs at the OBEC Eugene office). This low-cost "museum" could take the form of a single plexiglass display case, or could involve the re- purposing of an entire hallway. For those who cannot travel to Eugene to see the physical memories, the www.OBEC.com website could become a pictoral/historical reminder of what OBEC was (digital photo album, video, and virtual gallery of the "museum"), as well as a very clear link to the DOWL website (which will undoubtedly become the new homepage for OBEC's current and future work).
With the Eugene office re-signing its five-year lease, now is the best time to do a little remodeling and installation. After all, the building manager will be putting in new lighting, repainting the walls, and improving the kitchen. Why not provide a place for employees and visitors alike to reflect upon the past, even as they move boldly into the future?
Please do not let www.OBEC.com simply redirect to www.dowl.com. Please do not let the OBEC brand fade slowly into the memories of those old enough to remember it. Please do what is right for your employees. Please do what is right for OBEC.
I received the following cordial response to this open letter:
OBEC is a fabulous brand with a remarkable history. It is clear that you and many others are prideful of what the company has accomplished, and there is no desire to disrespect or sunset or bury the accomplishments. Larry and I have discussed your comments and suggestions and we hope to implement some sort of a historical recognition of this great firm. We are considering different mediums and locations.