Strapped for space and looking for a way to showcase its high-tech workplace wares, The Office People is spending $2 million to renovate a former movie theater into its new North Charleston headquarters.
The old Fox Theater on Rivers Avenue near Remount Road has been vacant for years, said Sean Mummert, CEO of the company, which specializes in outfitting workspaces with everything from office furniture to audio-visual hookups to big TVs.
The displays at Charleston International Airport are The Office People's handiwork, for instance. A number of area hospitals, including Roper St. Francis and the Medical University of South Carolina, are among its other clients.
The business plans to use the theater's 25,000 square feet of space as a "smart office" showroom and distribution center. It will be called the Technology Innovation Center.
"Everybody likes to be able to see," Mummert said. "It’s too hard to communicate an idea through talking about it."
The company has occupied a handful of spaces since it was founded in 2004, including a spot on Calhoun Street on the peninsula that presented some accessibility challenges for the 18-wheelers dropping off shipments.
More recently, the firm has been operating out of an office off Montague Avenue near Tanger Outlets. It bought the theater in June of this year for $925,000.
The minority-owned company has about 100 employees. It also has offices in Orangeburg and Georgia. It hopes to open the refurbished theater space in late fall.
The Fox had four screens in its heyday. For The Office People, each room will feature its different specialties.
Mummert said his business model is to handle each step of a renovation for its commercial clients. That means construction, rewiring, furniture and more. As customers have come to expect shipments faster, he said he has prioritized completing jobs as expeditiously as possible.
"We're the only company that can do everything," he said.
The Office People is choosing an aging but heavily traveled part of the city for its new headquarters. The neighboring Gas Lite Square complex, which was sold and renovated a few years ago, is more than six decades old, and many of the retail spaces have intermittently gone unoccupied.
Mayor Keith Summey welcomed the latest investment, saying it "gives us confidence that North Charleston remains a ripe environment for businesses to flourish."