Look at a typical office and you’ll probably see what everyone else sees—a desk, a chair, a computer. Not Jonathan Railey. The 2000 MBA graduate sees collaborative work spaces, ergonomic needs, aesthetic features—and, of course, opportunity. Railey is president of Integrated WorkSpace Solutions, a start-up company that supplies office furniture and related services to companies like Kroger, the American Red Cross, the Fine Arts Fund and others.
His goal, though, isn’t simply selling them furniture. Anyone can do that. He’s interested in creating an environment that is most conducive to work in the 21st century.
“People are spending less time in individual workplaces and more time in collaborative spaces,” Railey says. “And we’re all using more electronic devices. As a result, we’re all spending more time on the move, so there’s less need for the big physical spaces.”
Railey and his business partners—who include fellow Xavier MBA grad J.B. Buse—saw a need for this in their own workplaces. They also saw the demand from cities and industries to do business with more minority-owned businesses. So they set up shop in the emerging Gateway Quarter of Cincinnati’s historic Over-the-Rhine neighborhood, which sits adjacent to downtown.
Selling office furniture and helping companies set up their spaces is very different from the work Railey’s done in the past—he’s worked as an electrical engineer and last served as vice president of economic inclusion for the Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce. But he finds the changes a welcome challenge.
“As we get older, it’s always invigorating to do something new and different, to utilize a different skill set,” he says. “It keeps the brain cells active when you have to learn something new.”