A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Centennial Inc. launches its next chapter in the historic George Wiedemann, Jr. House in Newport

By Mark Hansel
NKyTribune managing editor

For nearly 44 years, Centennial Inc. has connected the region’s leaders with top-tier talent and resources designed to improve their businesses and careers.

Centennial Inc. CEO Mike Sipple, Sr. (left) and Mike Sipple Jr. the company’s president, at the top of a staircase in the George Wiedemann Jr. House in Newport. The company purchased the historic home, built in the 1890s as the new location for its offices (photos by Mark Hansel). Click photos to enlarge.

CEO Mike Sipple, Sr. and Mike Sipple, Jr., the company’s president and founder of its Talent Magnet Institute, have embraced the values associated with a family-owned business.

Centennial’s offices were located in downtown Cincinnati for 27 years, in Rookwood for five years and for the last 11 years, in Kenwood.

In the last few years, as the company began to embark on its next chapter, its leadership decided its offices should reflect its family-owned business model.

“Our organization has been continuing to grow and has a big chapter, that we are writing right now, so we decided to find a place to truly call home,” Mike Sipple, Jr. said.

“For many years we’ve been in office towers and we decided to find a home and let that be a part of this next chapter.”

After an 18-month search, they found what they were looking for and, in February, settled in to the historic George Wiedemann, Jr. House, at 401 Park Avenue, in Newport.  

Sipple, Jr, explained why this was the right space, at the right time, for Centennial.

“We looked at 19 properties and landed on this one,” Sipple said. “Our goal was to find something from Eighth Street to the river, in either Covington or Newport. We wanted to be in a river city and give back to the communities that we serve, but also to leverage a space to be able to host events for the overall Greater Cincinnati region.”

Centennial’s Mike Sipple, Jr. said the company’s move into the George Wiedemann, Jr. House allows a historic property built by a family business to be further activated by another family business.

Centennial moved the talent strategy and executive search firm into the 5,100 square-foot building. The company also consolidated the Talent Magnet Institute, its talent strategy division, into the building as well.

“We’re trying to activate this space,” Sipple said. “It was built by George Wiedemann Jr., between 1894 and 1899.  So, it’s a historic property built by a family business that a family business is moving into, to further activate.”

Of course, an older building has its challenges and the company is ready to face them, head on.

“This building is on the National Historic Registry so there’s lots of expectations and Newport and Campbell County were hoping to see it preserved and restored,” Sipple said. “The individuals we bought it from have put a lot into this space and we get to be the beneficiaries of that, while we continue to restore the building.”

There are some features common to older buildings that are functional assets in today’s business environment.

On the first floor, for example, every room includes pocket doors that allow it to be shut off, for use as meeting space.

About 2,000 square feet in the building will be utilized as meeting space, for nonprofits, for customers, as well as executive co-working.

“We wanted something that allows people to connect, that’s not stale, and we wanted something with some vibrancy and history because that really helps to open people up,” Sipple said. “We host a lot of leaders from our community and some really important conversations. That really factored into us finding a space that will allow people to be comfortable, to feel welcome and to say, ‘I can connect here.’”

As Centennial’s leadership team searched for a river city property in Northern Kentucky the goal was to more closely connect the region.

The rooms in the George Wiedemnann, Jr. House provide some picturesque views of the surrounding neighborhood.

“We were trying to find something in a river city that was extremely close to downtown, with very convenient access for our customers, but also for the overall region,” Sipple said. “I say I’m a self-proclaimed regionalist and we want to be a part of the vibrancy of Greater Cincinnati.

The building’s co-working spaces are set up for people to come in, plug in and start working.

The executive coworking location, called IMPACT Cowork, is designed to cater to the region’s leaders who need another space; executives who want a location close to the heart of the region. The plan is for the spaces to become a hub that is shared, at times, by the region’s influential business and community leaders.

“If you need to be at a meeting and then need to be close to the river, you can come in here and then zip over there after four hours of getting stuff done,” Sipple said. “We also find that executives need a place to kind of get outside their four walls to get things accomplished and this is a place to get things accomplished.”

Those interested in utilizing the space need to become a member of IMPACT Cowork.

“To join you register, meet with us and go through a process to become a member,” Sipple said.

Centennial is the tenant of the second floor of the building and the third floor includes six desks set up for executive coworking.

“The second and third floor went through the most restoration since we took over,” Sipple said. “The building has all of these big, open spaces, huge windows lots of character. We developed all of these beautiful work spaces for our team.”

A group gathers in the foyer of the George Wiedemann, Jr., House, now the offices of Centennial Inc. in advance of a lunch meeting.

The building also includes a dedicated sound studio for the Talent Magnet Institute podcast, that is in the process of getting sound-paneled.

“We’ve already recorded eight episodes in here – we have 48 episodes that are launched  – this week we had one with (CVG CEO) Candace McGraw.

The space will also be rentable for others groups or individuals that need to have a studio.

“We have the equipment, we have the technology, we also have a following to maybe help elevate that message that someone is trying to get out and this could be a place to do that,” Sipple said. “Part of our hope is that through the connections that Centennial and the Talent Magnet Institute have in the community, we can help those that use the space reach the right audience.”

The production team that is used for the Talent Magnet institute can also help others launch podcasts.

“Part of the whole cowork concept is, ‘how do we create an impact on those that are here,’ whether it is through Centennial, through IMPACT, or through the Talent Magnet Institute,” Sipple said.

The Wiedemann building was purchased, in part, for Centennial to move its business model forward, but Sipple said the commitment goes much deeper.

“For us this is an investment into the community, as much as it is an investment in our next chapter,” Sipple said. “We wanted to find a space where we can serve and make the community healthier and stronger together, we want to be a convener of that conversation and this is a great place to do that,” Sipple said.  “The ultimate goal of Centennial is to invest in people and to help people be more successful and that all went into finding a space of vibrancy.”

Put simply, Sipple said, its a commitment to help make Centennial’s team feel like it is doing what everybody should be doing and feeling good about that.

“In many ways we are operating as a traditional office environment, in a  place that looks non-traditional, Sipple said. “There is nothing like arriving to work and it being your space and I think our whole team feels that. There is just an energy and vibe here that we are excited to be ignited by.”

For more information about Centennial Inc., IMPACT Cowork, or the Talent Magnet Institute, click here.

Contact Mark Hansel at mark.hansel@nkytrib.com

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