Discipline, strategic thinking and creative whimsy.

Trace Hallowell, Creative director and owner, Tactical Magic; Owner, 1460 Madison

By Michael Sheffield

Published by the Memphis Business Journal, October 30, 2003

Trace Hallowell noticed something was missing even though he has owned his own advertising company, Trace Hallowell noticed something was missing even though he has owned his own advertising company, Tactical Magic, since 2001. What was missing was the other creative people he thrived on.

Running the company out of his home saved money, but it didn’t provide the spark that being in an agency setting provided. So he did what any good entrepreneur would do—he bought a building.

That building at 1460 Madison Ave. was renovated and opened in May to tenants, including Hallowell and at least five other companies. Now he’s happy again.
Hallowell says his original plan with Tactical Magic sparked his desire to have the building.

“The idea for Tactical Magic was born from the concept of having a highly skilled SWAT team of magicians who understand their objective and know how to achieve it in a way that doesn’t wander around in the wrong direction,” he says. “We could come in and do the job with equal parts discipline, strategic thinking and creative whimsy. It dovetailed into the opportunity to buy this huge, funky old building that could house complementary endeavors with one or two-person shops for design, interactive development, writing, advertising services, art direction and even filmmaking as a creative commune.”

Jerry Redmond, a principal with Redmond Design, a full-service design agency that provides design and print for non-profits, educational institutions and churches, says that since his company moved into the building in May, he’s collaborated with every other business there on projects. It allows small companies in the building an opportunity to take on assignments they may not have gotten.

“We’ve got a strong sense of community and the common practice has been that if there is an opportunity to partner to create a mega agency, you’ve got the opportunity to do that here,” Redmond says. “You can take projects that you would have had to pass on because you didn’t have the manpower. I came from a smaller shop that was just me, but here there’s a feeling with a sense of ownership and it’s a good thing.”

Hallowell says the opportunities for partnering with other companies has created a “more vibrant, intense experience” for him and expanded what his company can do for a client. Partnering also has helped companies in a crunch.

“In the aftermath of the storm in July, there was a three-person design shop that was without power,” he says. “They contacted me and moved in here with all of their equipment. We helped them move in, they were off, running and productive for a week, then the power came back on. We don’t have a lot of staff and overhead that needs to be taken care of during downtimes. It’s a different organic business model that can deliver creative ideas.”

Hallowell says the building probably has room for one or two more companies, but if those companies don’t come anytime soon, he’ll be OK with that.

He admits that building ownership and company ownership have taken a little bit away from marketing his own company, even though he still works hard for his clients.

“Everything does sort of overlap in my roles as the owner of Tactical Magic and 1460 Madison because they do affect each other,” he says. “Tactical Magic is one of the companies here in the building, but with the ownership role of the building I have to maintain a level of upkeep and keep the renovations moving as well as keeping the lights on.”

By Michael Sheffield

Published by the Memphis Business Journal, October,30, 2003

Despite not advertising widely, Hallowell says word-of-mouth helped him attract tenants to the building and when clients of his and theirs come in, they’re impressed with what’s going on.

“I think there is some perception that we’re all part of the same company and a client may think someone down the hall does work for me,” he says. “They may do some projects for me, but they don’t work for me. I think the concept is so different that unless you’re paying attention, you’ll put us in that category.”

Redmond says the collaborations he’s had with the other companies has helped the work he’s done.

“When I was working in my old office, I had to feed off of what me and my clients came up with,” he says. “The creative community here allows me to feed off of other creative people.”

While he has to be a landlord and company owner, Hallowell says it’s nothing new to him.

“It does feel like two full-time jobs that have to be done simultaneously,” he says, “but after 20 years in the advertising business, I’m used to doing more than one full-time job.”

CONATCTstaff writter Michael Sheffield at 259-1722 or msheffield@bizjournals.com

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- Jeffrey Sinclair