Let’s Go PlacesJul 21, 2023 01:55PM ● By Ryan Borchers
Photo by Bill Sitzmann.
If you drive past a Toyota dealership, chances are you’ll see a distinctive architectural piece in front of the entrance. It’s a large, glowing design element that acts as a kind of entryway for the building.
That piece, framed of steel and made with glass panels with an integrated fabric core, is called a portal, and Omaha’s own Dean Jessick is responsible for its creation.
It is, he said, the dealership’s marquee.
Jessick, who formerly owned Husker Glass, has been for almost 37 years president and CEO for Redglaze Group Holdings, which acts as the holding company for several businesses that provide architectural services for building owners and client companies across the globe. The firm is headquartered in Omaha.
Its company SGH Concepts offers several services, including providing design assistance, cladding exteriors, integrating technology systems, daylighting, and sustainable design elements. One of its projects was the lantern atop the Holland Performing Arts Center, and it was this piece of work that got Toyota’s attention and brought them to Jessick’s team.
“The lighting effect or ‘glow’ of the Holland lantern was very appealing to [Toyota],” he said, “both as a fresh and striking impact and as a dealership statement to attract customers.”
Creating a new design element for its dealerships was part of Toyota’s overall rebranding efforts. The company, Jessick said, is very strict with its brand requirements and expected a lot from him and his team.
“We had to be under a continuous improvement model,” Jessick said, but working under such exacting standards helped make SGH a better company, he shared.
The proprietary design took about six months to complete. SGH and its vendors built the portal and achieved the glowing effect via an integrated fabric inside the glass.
“It was rolling up the sleeves and coming up with a design that worked,” Jessick said.
Designing the portal was one thing. The task of adding one to every Toyota dealership was another, especially since every portal has to fit the specific dealership. It has to be proportional to its building’s unique dimensions, comply with local ordinances, and withstand local weather, etc.
Fortunately for Toyota, Jessick and his team were able to address these requirements as well. Not only did they design and build the first portals; they also created a nationwide rollout program. They developed software and step-by-step instructions for guarantee every portal and exterior building facade met brand standards. Additionally, they vetted and contracted with installation teams across the country to make sure the years-long rollout process went smoothly. It takes approximately 16 weeks from engineering through completion for any given design application, Jessick said. Over 1,100 dealerships have been finished to date.
Now the portal feature appears in all of Toyota’s nationwide commercials. It has also prompted other auto manufacturers to try and copycat their own versions of portals— a kind of “portal envy,” Jessick said. SGH continues to work with several other companies that have nationwide rollout programs.
Providing this range of service, from design to project management, is not typical in the industry. Jessick is proud of the work his company does and the fact that it’s employee-owned.
“You can still provide a really economical solution for people, but that requires trust,” he said. “I really believe in the legacy we’ve created.”
Visit sghconcepts.com for more information.
Visit toyota.com for dealership portal photos.
This article originally appeared in the August/September 2023 issue of B2B Magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.