steel + tita(nium)

Alex Hartle | 10.06.16

Nium’s Relationship to Pittsburgh

This year, Nium celebrates its 15th anniversary, culminating in our Sweet 15 party on October 8. The event has gotten us thinking about the past, present, and future of the company, and what exactly it means to be Nium. In thinking, we’ve realized that part of that answer sits outside our windows, up the Ohio River at the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela. Geography plays a big role in many people’s identities, and we all absorb our surroundings in some way. Whether you’re a polite Midwesterner, a genuine Southerner, or one of those free-spirited Best Coasters can mean a lot. For Nium it’s no different; the city of Pittsburgh is who we are.

Newcomers to Pittsburgh are often surprised to see a stirring skyline where they had imagined a string of smokestacks – old reputations can be tough to shake. But on closer inspection, they find that the grit they missed visually lies instead within the city’s people. First-time visitors to Nium’s Friary are also struck by a modern-yet-timeless image that isn’t what you might expect when you hear “design firm.” Like Pittsburgh, however, you will find in our people the determination to get a job done, no matter what is required. When Bruegger’s Bagels asked if we could re-create the inside of a bakery for their conference this past May, we just did it. On the Sunday before the conference, CEO Bill Stabnau was on a ladder alongside the rest of us, hanging lights above the display like he was back in his theater set construction days. In each person at Nium, as in each Pittsburgher, you will find a resolve to get results and take care of our people, and we think our clients would agree.

Visitors to the city will also find a healthy respect for its past. One need only count the buildings around town emblazoned with Carnegie and Frick, or the Clemente and Stargell jerseys at a Pirates game, to know that Pittsburgh loves and lives its own history. It is not, however, some trite portrait of yesteryear’s blue-collar work ethic. Like the mills missing from the banks of the three rivers, Pittsburgh’s past informs, but does not define, its present and future. Nium also honors the past of design and production, but is expanding with the industry into new technologies and methods. We value our grounding in print, but relish the new frontier of digital. We appreciate the company’s humble beginnings in Bill’s spare bedroom, but make no mistake – we keep both eyes fixed firmly on the future.

If you have friends from Pittsburgh, you’ve probably heard some bragging in the last few years about Forbes and The Economist naming the city America’s most livable. We agree wholeheartedly, and it’s why many of us have come back after leaving – and plan on staying. If you haven’t figured out from all the gushing, we quite simply love Pittsburgh. There is something about the city that we try to reflect as a business, a salt-of-the-earth doggedness couched in a beautiful, modern landscape. It is not just a city; it’s home.

When you work with Nium, you get the same: an identity hardened in our early days, but refined in the present as we come into our own. We are not just a design firm; we’re whatever you need. You could say we bring a blue-collar ethos to a white-collar industry, but 2001 this is not. Like the city that we love, Nium has grown leaps and bounds in 15 years, and will continue to grow into the future. Like our fellow ‘Burghers, we will always do what it takes to make that happen, and we look forward to you joining us in that growth. On October 8, the Nium family will come together and proudly raise its glasses to 15 years, but when the parking lot and glasses are empty, we’ll go right back to work.