Sticking to Core Values in the Midst of the Economic Storm, Company Takes 9th Spot Among U.S. Media Companies and Ranks Among Top 50 Companies in the Los Angeles Region
Owners Fund Internal Incubator to Ensure Company Longevity
Inc. magazine ranked leading experience design companyThinkwell number 516 on its third annual Inc. 5000, an exclusive ranking of the nation’s fastest-growing private companies. Thinkwell specializes in the creation of story-driven exhibits, attractions, live shows and environments for brands, museums, theme parks, resorts and retail destinations worldwide. The Inc. 5000 list represents a comprehensive look at the most important segment of the economy—America’s independent-minded entrepreneurs.
Despite the tumultuous economic climate, Thinkwell ranked among the top 50 companies in greater Los Angeles (http://www.inc.com/inc5000/2009/lists/top-metro-regions-los-angeles-long-beach-santa-ana–ca.html). CEO Cliff Warner credits the company’s inherent ability to adapt in the face of challenges. “Coming from an industry that goes through many ups and downs, we provide a unique approach to problem-solving that not only works for Thinkwell but our clients as well.”
Rooted in the entertainment industry since 2001, the company has evolved over the years to serve a variety of clients seeking innovative solutions. “We put ourselves on the forefront of helping other companies strategize what’s next in terms of creative design, content master planning, marketing and customer experience, ” Warner added. Still, he insists it’s the people within Thinkwell and their diverse backgrounds that make it a success. “We value what each individual has to offer. That respect is not specific to finance or design or marketing; it’s life experience that influences what we do in creating guest experiences.”
Ryan Holmes, fondly known throughout Thinkwell as “Employee #2, ” joined the company a few months after its launch eight years ago. Holmes has had the experience of moving with Thinkwell from a garage to a theatre workspace and finally to a “real” office, and he notes one constant throughout Thinkwell’s evolution: “The founders have always done whatever it takes to keep the company going. Their ability to listen and adapt has kept it growing from day one.”
Like the owners of many small businesses, Thinkwell’s owners have been forced to make some sacrifices throughout the years. When one of Thinkwell’s biggest clients put a multi-million dollar project on hold last fall, the owners chose to personally invest significant funds to keep nearly 100 people employed in anticipation of re-starting in a few months. They used the opportunity to re-task the team with product development on the firm’s special projects.
“Was it the smartest move, to fund payroll personally for as long as we possibly could?” asked Francois Bergeron, Thinkwell’s chief financial officer. “We’ll see. Was it the right thing to do for a team of people we really believed in? Absolutely.”
“We wanted to take control of our own destiny, ” added Warner. “Now we’re pitching these projects to television networks, investors and owner/operators. In addition to running our core business, we’ve become a venture incubator.”
Although they could not postpone layoffs indefinitely, Thinkwell’s owners believe the recently reduced size of their workforce is temporary. The projects initiated during this time may prove to be a large part of what drives future growth and employment.
While most businesses attempt to wait out a tough economic time, Thinkwell is positioning itself to be a mainstay on the Inc. 5000 list for years to come.
From blank page to opening day, Thinkwell specializes in the creation of story-driven attractions, exhibits, live shows and environments. Their clientele is made up of Fortune 500 companies, advertising agencies, production houses, museums, theme parks and destination resorts, including Cirque du Soleil, DreamWorks SKG, Universal Studios, Thor Equities and Sesame Workshop among others. Overall Thinkwell takes a holistic approach, bringing years of experience in design, education, operations, and marketing to deliver extraordinary results. For more information, go to www.thinkwellgroup.com.
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