Mairs & Power Exits Office It’s Leased Since 1940s
Mairs & Power has relocated to Wells Fargo Place and signed a 10-year lease. COURTESY OF CUSHMAN & WAKEFIELD

Mairs & Power Exits Office It’s Leased Since 1940s

The investment firm on Monday opened for business in Wells Fargo Place in downtown St. Paul.

St. Paul and Mairs & Power have been intertwined since the investment firm was founded in 1931 by George Mairs Jr.

Known for its long-term investing strategy, the firm has been located in downtown St. Paul in the First National Bank Building since the early 1940s, according to Rob Mairs, a company executive and third-generation family member to work in the business.

On Monday, Mairs & Power started serving clients in a new office on the 25th floor of Wells Fargo Place that’s located at 30 East 7th Street in downtown St. Paul.

“It’s built to be very collaborative,” said Mairs, the firm’s president, chief compliance officer, and general counsel. He also said the new office is outfitted with technology to support the hybrid work model. “We’ve got some rooms that are designed in such a way that the cameras will pick up people at different angles, so it makes the in-office, out-of-office video connection better.”

All Mairs & Power employees will have designated workspaces. The firm currently employs 43 people and there is room for expansion in the new office.

Wells Fargo Place tower in downtown St. Paul, Minnesota
Mairs and Power has set up a new office on the 25th floor of Wells Fargo Place that’s located at 30 East 7th Street in downtown St. Paul.

“One of my partners had been in an accounting firm and she talked about this hoteling concept where you come in and sign up for a desk,” Mairs said. “That never had much appeal to us. So, everybody has a spot that is their dedicated spot.”

Mark Henneman, Mairs & Power chairman and CEO, said the design of the new office was done after extensive input from employees. Regarding designated workspaces for each employee, Henneman said, “People told us that is something that they’d still like to have. It creates a home for them and their stuff.”

Making the right move

Despite the firm’s long-standing contributions to the St. Paul economy and involvement in St. Paul’s civic life, Henneman said he believed the company needed to conduct an office search process with “a clean sheet of paper” and consider locations across the Twin Cities.

He asked a six-person employee team to assess locations. Henneman, who plans to retire at the end of 2026, didn’t serve on the office project team. He said it was most important to get the perspectives of people “who are going to be living in this new space for a decade or more as opposed to a short-timer.”

A commercial real estate broker showed the project team many different properties. Beyond St. Paul, Mairs said, he and fellow team members looked at sites in downtown Minneapolis, St. Louis Park, Edina, and Eagan.

“We thought these buildings are delightful and they’re beautiful and they would fit our needs,” Mairs said, but one of his colleagues emphasized how Mairs & Power always has been defined as a St. Paul-based firm.

“St. Paulites are very persistent and loyal, and I think that represents part of our DNA,” Mairs said. “We’re bullish on St. Paul.”

Yet Mairs and Henneman wanted to leave St. Paul’s First National Bank Building. “The building is still a grand, old beautiful building, but it’s deteriorated,” Henneman said. Both men also said some of their employees expressed safety concerns because of criminal activity they’d witnessed near their old office.

When George Mairs Jr. decided to locate his investment firm in the First National Bank Building, “it was the premier space in St. Paul, if not the entire region,” Henneman said.

But Rob Mairs noted that it’s no longer a center of commerce as major law and accounting firms and brokerage businesses have moved out of the First National Bank Building, which is now considered Class B office space.

Wells Fargo Place, which is considered Class A space, is the new “financial hub,” Mairs said.

Not downsizing office space

Many companies are using the pandemic and the shift to remote and hybrid work to dramatically reduce the square footage they devote to office space.

Mairs & Power is not following the pack in that regard.

It had 15,450 square feet in the First National Bank Building and now has 14,622 square feet at Wells Fargo Place, according to Melissa Gilbertson, the firm’s chief operating officer.

Mairs & Power signed a 10-year lease at Wells Fargo Place. Its lease at the First National Bank Building lasts through May 2025, and it’s agreed to let the Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library use one-third of the space on a rent-free basis.

The leaders at Mairs & Power concluded a few years ago that they needed to move to a new location and that executing a move would take a considerable amount of time. “We also realized as we got into the process that if we found a spot we liked that we needed to grab it,” Mairs said.

“The pandemic added a new sense of urgency to change our space and it had a lot to do with observing the way that people were working and the way that Mairs & Power was addressing that,” Henneman said.

Mairs & Power CEO Mark Henneman, left, was photographed in St. Paul with former CEO Jon Theobald, center, and president Robert Mairs.
Mairs & Power CEO Mark Henneman, left, was photographed in St. Paul with former CEO Jon Theobald, center, and president Robert Mairs.

Culture Building Week

Like many white-collar businesses, Mairs & Power didn’t know how long its employees would be working from home when pandemic cases surfaced in March 2020.

“We were exceptionally good at working remotely,” Henneman said. “2021 was financially the greatest year in our history.” Mairs & Power had the highest fee revenue and the highest profitability in the firm’s history.

“Almost 100% of our revenues are the fees that we generate on assets that we manage,” Henneman said.

After U.S. office workers began getting vaccinated against Covid-19 in 2021, it soon became evident that workplaces would not simply return to their pre-pandemic schedules.

“It was clear to me that working from home is part of the formula going forward,” Henneman said. But he didn’t specify when or how often employees needed to show up at the Mairs & Power office.

“The overriding policy is that nobody has to come into the office on any given day,” he said. “The best person to make the decision on how to work on any given day is that person.”

Yet he acknowledges that the culture of Mairs & Power is built on collaboration and cohesiveness.

“I’d love to have a period of time where most of the people are going to be in the office,” Henneman said. “What we’ve been doing all year long is something we call Culture Building Week.”

On the Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday of the second week of each month, Mairs & Power holds Culture Building Week.

“It’s been very successful,” he said. “We created some activities and some things where we really want you to feel like you’d miss out if you are not in.”

Employees are not required to show up for Culture Building Week. However, Henneman said, usually about 90 to 95 percent of them do return to the office for those three days a month.

Company meetings are held during that special week. “Probably more than anything else, I definitely notice people just getting together before and after that meeting and just seeing people run into each other in the halls,” Henneman said.

Culture Building Week will remain in place for 2023. He also anticipates the new office will attract more employees to work alongside their colleagues more days per month.

Capitol views, modern layout

In the old Mairs & Power headquarters, Henneman said the space was defined by “big, dark offices” that could accommodate paper files and prime window space was allocated to partners and shareholders.

The new office layout is a better fit for the digital age and it is more egalitarian in how space is allocated.

Yellow Dog Studio, based in Minneapolis, worked with Mairs & Power to design the new space.

In the new office, Mairs said, “The views of the Capitol are just spectacular from the north side. It’s really breathtaking.”

In his old office, he said, he had a great view of the river, but nobody else could see it. The layout for the new office gives many more employees ready access to the view from windows.

“We want everybody in the firm to be able to enjoy the natural light,” Henneman said.

Individual offices are smaller in the new Mairs & Power office. The result is more space for meetings and collaborative work and more workspaces in an open layout.

Many executives, including Henneman, have offices that are in the interior of the space, instead of abiding by the executive tradition of occupying the best real estate with large windows.

“We’re trying to make common space for everybody that when you are in it, it’s a pleasant place to sit,” Mairs said.

“We’re able to create a space that really aligns pretty tightly with the way that we’re going to be working for the next 20 years,” Henneman said.

Mairs indicated that the company’s office search team and board of directors expressed confidence in St. Paul by selecting Wells Fargo Place for their new office.

“We are a local business and our clients are local and a lot of them have been in this community and are still in the community,” Mairs said. “We’re not a huge player, but I think it’s important to show our commitment to downtown and the future.”