Russell Markham says that more than anything he hopes he’s leading a “culture-run company,” one that collaborates efficiently, creates in unison and attracts top design and project management talent from around the Flathead Valley.
It is hardly surprising, then, that the first thing that stands out about the company’s shimmering new offices inside The Falls Building on Kalispell’s north side is how hard it would be to hide from one’s co-workers. Employees work in offices surrounded by glass walls and without doors, can gather at large tables in communal spaces or attempt to retreat to an open conference room, although that’s not fully enclosed either.
The design is deliberate, as it should be for a company that does, well, interior design. InnSpace has carved out a very particular niche in the design world and thrived in recent years, specializing in hotel renovations, and prides itself on being an all-in-one solution for hoteliers that hits its deadlines precisely because of the type of collaborative environment it empowers.
“We’re a team,” Markham said of the 14-person full-time staff at InnSpace. “I think that flows very much into our process and what we’ve set up; it has to be that way.”
Markham, 32, is InnSpace’s general manager and one of four owners of a company that his family founded and was formerly known as Eagle Group Northwest. The business has strong roots in Kalispell — Markham’s great-grandmother, Grace Eastlick, was a friend of Alicia Conrad and played at the family’s mansion when the two were children — and started off making and selling office furniture. Over time, the business pivoted to interior design and started to make a name for itself in the hotel world, not building new hotels but working start-to-finish on renovation projects.
InnSpace’s biggest selling point, Markham said, is the team’s ability to tackle a renovation from the design all the way through the finished product using an efficient, team-based approach they’ve perfected over time. Starting with Design Director Meredith Coopman, InnSpace initiates a design with procurement, production and the actual build in mind, instead of taking it piece by piece and possibly running into costly hiccups along the way.
“It’s been a journey to get here but we’re at the point where we have a niche, we have a defined market, we do the same thing a lot of times and we do it well,” Markham said.
InnSpace’s team of interior designers, project managers and procurement specialists all are involved in every detail of new guest rooms, lobbies and other areas from the beginning. That means that a designer won’t create a plan that can’t be reasonably, or affordably, executed, and that the on-site project managers — who are based out of Kalispell but will travel to each project — understand the design from its earliest conception.
“We’re facing those challenges on day one and that could influence the design,” Markham said. “We’re overlapping our schedules — an interior designer is working on the job but so is our procurement specialist working with the window treatment company (and asking) is this doable, in this timeframe, from day one? Those teams are working unilaterally instead of in segments.”
InnSpace’s most prominent client is Hilton Worldwide and InnSpace has renovated a number of Hampton and Hilton Garden Inn properties for the brand. InnSpace has also worked on a handful of local projects, including a renovation of the Best Western Plus Flathead Lake Inn and Suites a little more than a year ago. And while Markham sees growth in the future for the company, he’s focused on deepening its hold on a niche market rather than drifting into new hotel builds or other markets.
“The renovation side of it is more complicated because you’re dealing with existing conditions, and we’re also mostly in areas that are low population, high-tourism, so you’re dealing in spots (where) other companies aren’t dying to be doing renovations,” Markham said. “Our niche is really renovations and I don’t see that changing.”
That said, hotel renovation is not InnSpace’s only market, especially locally. While the company has not and does not plan on entering the residential realm, InnSpace does some commercial interior design, and not just their own office. The company is currently collaborating with Mountain Meadow Herbs on a new space and has a working relationship with Kalispell’s Torrent Technologies.
InnSpace is hosting a grand opening for its new office on Wednesday, July 18 from 4 to 7 p.m. in part to share with the community both what InnSpace is and what the company is capable of. And while InnSpace’s new office — which they plan to use as a showroom of sorts for out-of-town clients — is modern in its design, Markham, a Flathead High School grad, said InnSpace is also more than capable of paying homage to its hometown with “very rustic, very Montana” creations.
The grand opening party is at The Falls Building, 165 Commons Loop, Kalispell. Food, beer and wine will be served, and the event is open to the public. For more information, visit www.inn-space.com.
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