A struggling economy could have spelled disaster for Richard Gabel.
Instead, the owner of Meadow Creek Business Center, used difficult times to grow business and provide an overall spark to Issaquah.
“The recession put a lot of pressure on a lot of people — they needed just to tread water, much less grow,” said Gabel, noting a large chunk of his revenue used to come from renting office space to large corporations.
Tough times forced those corporations to cut back on employees and threatened Meadow Creek with potential vacancy.
As Gabel watched people break off and try to run their own businesses, an idea was born.
“We thought, we’ve got to change our business model so there’s more reasons to come to Meadow Creek than just plain office space,” he said.
Gabel, who has years of experience in business management, consulting and marketing, shifted his company’s focus to becoming more of an incubator service — a place to provide support to start-ups. The model is something seldom seen on Seattle’s Eastside.
“We’ve tried to make it more of a full-service stop for the small business and entrepreneurs,” he said. “We decided the best thing that we could for this new class of tenant was to help them with their marketing efforts and business planning efforts.”
Meadow Creek, which is working its way back to 100 percent occupancy, houses an eclectic group of tenants, ranging from accountants to toe readers.
Gabel holds a variety of mentoring and mastermind classes, while Audrey Slade, director of operations, regularly organizes events like “tenant talks” and “business with bagels.”
“What I look to do is connect other people,” she said.
For entrepreneurs like mortgage broker Paul Benezra, the environment is ideal. Having moved in a month ago, the owner of Cascade Equity Group, Inc., now has a chance to bounce ideas off other small business owners.
“It’s all about building your business and that’s what we need to do in today’s economy — help each other build business,” he said.
Brian Flynn, a self-described “serial entrepreneur” who is involved in his 10th business, has been at Meadow Creek for two years. The owner of Receivable Consultants International credits his company’s success to the unique atmosphere.
“For me, I was retired, and I was like, ‘Uh oh, I’ve got to get back out there,’” Flynn said. “This gave me a great professional environment to launch another endeavor.”
Meadow Creek also provides several other uncommon services like its virtual offices. Clients can rent office space hourly, all while getting things like receptionist and mail service. The company is currently holding a contest where people submit a 60 second video explaining how having an executive office suite can help their business grow. The winner gets the space for free for six months.
Gabel said he is happy with Meadow Creek’s new business model, noting that when tenants move out, they often continue to provide services beyond the office space.
Slade said they just hope to continue to lead by example and show their tenants how small businesses find success.
“It’s exciting because you literally get to watch people build their dreams,” she said.