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Omaha Magazine

Masters of Their New Domain: The Nonprofit Association of the Midlands Finds a Mix of High-Tech and Vintage

May 26, 2020 08:57AM ● By Robert Fraass

The big day finally arrived for CEO Anne Hindery and her staff on March 6. That’s when the Nonprofit Association of the Midlands (NAM) moved into their new office at the historic Mastercraft building in north downtown. The new office smell hadn’t even worn off when staff began working from home 10 days later because of COVID-19.

Still, the excitement and buzz remains for Omaha’s venerable nonprofit leadership organization and its members and friends. The organization that has provided leadership for local and regional nonprofits for decades now lives in digs where a tech-filled meeting room, airy natural lighting, sleek multifunctional spaces and furniture is nestled amid the industrial-retro comforts of an old factory space shared by dozens of tenants.

“As a nonprofit we wanted it nice, but not too nice,” said Hindery, gesturing toward tables that can be used for working but also for buffet tables and cocktail bars. She noted their per-square-foot costs actually decreased from their old location near 112th and Q streets.

It’s a new chapter in terms of both a new physical space for NAM and better service for its members.

All the staff in one location will be better for communication, Hindery said. Members can use all the space for free including using all the technology or the board room for when a nonprofit wants to hold a meeting. When it was briefly open, Hindery was able to host a call for 59 human resources professionals without a hitch.

“Working morale has improved just by everyone having their own designated space. We had four people in one big office—and it was a big room—but now, no one is working on top of each other. You can have a phone conversation and not worry about if you are disrupting someone else’s train of thought.”

In 1941, Mastercraft Furniture opened their 140,000 square-foot-factory at 1111 N. 13th St. The former factory, dubbed the Mastercraft Building, now serves as a budding creative center that attracts diverse small business owners and entrepreneurs—including some current
NAM clients.

At 4,100-square-feet, the NAM space is more than three times larger than its previous location. The industrial hallway leads to a doorway that opens into a generous reception desk and expansive kitchen that also can be used for meeting overflow and a break room.

Through that space lies the technological wizardry of the meeting area draped in beautiful sightlines and clean whites, with up to 50 comfortable workspace seats, soft benches, microphones, high-tech hanging tube-like buffers for great acoustics, and a videoconferencing stage for offsite meeting attendees that includes a planned push for its first members from Greater Nebraska.

In the opposite direction from the reception desk is a smaller meeting room, open workspace, and offices for Hindery and staff with hanging sound buffers and high-tech touches (such as L-shaped rising desks and preprogrammed white noise) that provide functionality and daylight flowing through the sawtooth skylights to reveal another leading-edge space—the under-renovation 180,000-square-foot Ashton warehouse—rising to the east.

Workspace to the east of the offices with its collaborative desks and resources is perfect for hands-on relationships—whenever those become possible.

It’s a functional workspace that meshes the “way cool” of today with the “gee whiz” of World War II-era Omaha.

“You can’t have a cooler space than the Mastercraft,” said Victoria Estep, the project’s lead interior designer for contactor Ally Poyner Macchietto Architecture. “Anything we did on top of that was hopefully a light touch to enhance the space and make it a little more interesting.”

The design goal, Estep said, was to match NAM’s vision for the space.

“We designed the open office space so they have workstations with room to grow. There are a few areas where they can reconfigure into additional desk spaces,” she said. “Our goal was to help them serve their small businesses and nonprofits with a training, kitchen, and reception area that can be used as one space.”

The builders then turned the interior designer and architect’s dream into reality, said Scott Thompson, president of Lund-Ross Constructors.

Other than linking sewage lines to the NAM space (“we pumped the waste line up and over to other draining systems”), the hardhats of Lund-Ross had a wide-open palette when turning three factory bays into one, Thompson said.

“I like the new modern, with the old history,” he said. “When you keep brick walls and exposed structure and blend it with new, modern elements of technology such as the videoconferencing and the new finishes, it creates a great space.”

The result is a highly collaborative workspace, said Hindery, who loves its multifunctional uses.

The NAM Membership Board, she said, will be able to reach out to nonprofit organizations working in the Mastercraft building, either in NAM offices or in the common meeting rooms on couches where people gather, and tenants who have brought their dogs to work walk by.

NAM members can pop in when they have a couple of hours between meetings or running around Omaha, Hindery said, and NAM staff can meet with other Mastercraft tenants.

“When we started out, I said, ‘Oh, if we can double our space, we will be fine!’” Hindery said. ”But now, three times the space, it feels about right.

“We love the high-tech industrial feel,” she continued. “My parents owned a mattress factory, so I appreciate the industrial vibe.”

Visit nonprofitam.org for more information.

This article was printed in the June 2020 issue of B2B Magazine.