In May 2017, Quanex made downtown Akron the home of its Research & Development center for its insulating glass division. The Akron division specializes in seals and spacers for insulating glass and has 25 employees made up of a finance team and engineers. Its production facility is located in Cambridge, Ohio, and employs 400 workers. Quanex employs 4,000 people overall through six divisions and is headquartered in Houston, Texas.

We spent an hour with David Marlar, Vice President of Finance and Sean Hummel, Director of Research & Development touring their space in the AES building at the corner of Cedar and Main Street.

What attracted you to Akron?
DM: Location. We were nearing the end of our lease and knew we wanted Research & Development to be closer to the factory in Cambridge, but we also wanted employees to be able to commute. Much of the technology around the rubber compounds that Quanex uses is centered not only in Akron, but at The University of Akron. There was an emphasis to stay near UA, and other colleges in the area, where the technology of rubber is not only continuing, but advancing.

When you look at it on a map, you could see we needed to be in the Akron area.

Why downtown?
DM: We fell in love with this whole [AES] Building. The thing that was striking on the first tour was the atrium. You walk in and go, “Wow, someone really came up with some creativity to do this.” We knew it was an old factory building, and it just wouldn’t have had near the character without doing the atrium the way they did. Also having a built out R&D space was very important.

Although you don’t chose a location because of activities at lunch, it’s a nice add on to have amenities and attractions close by. It’s the icing on the cake.

You mentioned being attracted to Akron because of talent. How does that work into your company strategy?
SH: What we do is incredibly specific and it is difficult to find this kind of expertise. We look forward to connecting with the University of Akron in the near future. We are interested in developing internships to home grow some of the expertise we need.

How has your workplace adapted to being downtown?
SH: Our employees enjoy working downtown. Our other location was in an industrial park, so at lunchtime if you didn’t pack your lunch, you had to drive a few miles to find a place to eat. Now that we’re in downtown Akron, you can walk outside and have four or five times the choice that you had in the suburbs.

DM: We go bike riding at lunch on the Towpath Trail pretty much every day. There are also a large handful of our employees that walk or jog everyday if the weather is nice enough. Last season we took the whole office to a RubberDucks game.

What has surprised you about your downtown experience?
SH: I haven’t driven one place since we moved here.

To find out more about Making it Happen in downtown Akron, visit downtownakron.com.