MillerCoors Should Make No Little Plans In Chicago

By Mike Maddaloni on Thursday, July 17, 2008 at 04:10 AM with 3 comments

photo of Daniel Burnham quote, 'Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men's blood.'It was announced on Tuesday that MillerCoors, a new joint venture of beer makers SAB Miller and Molson Coors, would setup their headquarters in Chicago. This will move employees from Denver and Milwaukee to the Windy City and in total bring in close to 400 jobs. The exact location of the office, to be opened within a year, has not been determined.

As the corporate executives make their plans to move to Chicago, I have one suggestion – make no little plans! These words are not my own but of Daniel Burnham, the world renowned urban planner responsible for the layout of much of what is Chicago today. I thought of this after my visit to the Tribune Tower last week, which is not only the headquarters of the Chicago media empire but a museum and tribute to journalism.

Most corporate offices are just that – offices. Why not make it a showcase of your products and services? Unfortunately, many of the corporate giants in Chicago haven’t incorporated this into their business model. Wrigley does not have a candy and gum store. Boeing has a store to buy logo schwag but no exhibits on its airplanes. Morton Salt could have an umbrella store. United Airlines, well… maybe they are a bad example as they don’t like their customers to begin with.

The only examples I could think of in Chicago are the Chicago Board of Trade’s viewing gallery, the Vienna Beef headquarters which has a cafe and store featuring its tasty foods, and the former Marshall Field’s which used to have a history gallery before they were acquired by Macy’s.

Such showcases don’t have to be merely cost centers – they can be profit centers, making money from visitors. MillerCoors could have a history museum, a working mini-brewery, an R&D facility open to the public and a restaurant. They could even borrow from Jordan’s Furniture in the Boston area which has everything from an IMAX theatre to motion-odyssey ride in its furniture stores. Anything else come to mind?

As much as another corporate headquarters in itself can have a positive impact on any community, making a big splash by offering something more and different to that very community can go a long way. Corporations don’t just have to write checks to participate. They can make their own things happen.

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