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ServiceMaster Claims Spot in Downtown Memphis for Headquarters

The following is a feature in the Memphis Crossroads Magazine. Click here to view the issue in its entirety.

ServiceMaster Global Holdings, Inc. announced earlier this year that it is relocating its corporate headquarters from East Memphis to Peabody Place, bringing some 1,200 employees Downtown to what will be the new home to all three of its business segments: Terminix, American Home Shield and its Franchise Services Group.
But before the June announcement of the relocation, the journey began many months before for the Greater Memphis Chamber.
ServiceMaster began its search a year ago. It employed a consulting company on a potential relocation, and it reached out to Mark Herbison and the Economic Development team at the Chamber in November. His team quickly pulled together its one-stop shop with partner agencies, ranging from city, county and state governments, to the Tennessee Valley Authority, Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division, the Workforce Investment Network and others to examine what could be done to keep ServiceMaster in the community.
The Chamber was never focused on a particular neighborhood; the choice between Downtown, Midtown or the suburbs didn’t matter.
“The Chamber team never got into geography of where they might go,” said Herbison, the Chamber’s Senior Vice President of Economic Development. “We were just working to convince them to stay in Shelby County.”
The group met with the consultants and learned what they wanted to hear about various parts of the community, the airport, public safety, taxes and incentives. The team prepared an in-depth presentation that was given in December to part of ServiceMaster’s executive leadership team along with the consultants.
In the ensuing weeks, the Chamber’s membership stepped up to do its part to keep an important corporate citizen in the community. Various leaders within the business community communicated support and willingness to help ServiceMaster stay in the Bluff City.
“We just facilitated everything and made sure all the parties that needed to be at the table were there,” Herbison said. “If any one entity hadn’t been at the table and proactive and working to keep the company here, they probably would’ve left. It was a real team effort. It took a while, six or seven months. That’s typical. A lot had to be considered.”
The Chamber’s economic development team was the overseer of that long process while ServiceMaster examined other locations, as well. Ultimately, the East Memphis-based company chose the vacant Peabody Place entertainment center as its future home.
Robert Gillette, chief executive officer at ServiceMaster, said the business community and the Chamber were vital in sharing how the city is good for business.
“The Chamber played a key role connecting us with resources to help us make an informed decision and encouraging ServiceMaster to stay in Memphis,” Gillette said. “The Chamber stressed that Tennessee and Memphis are great places to do business, and we agree. We’re excited to call Downtown Memphis our new home.”
The Downtown Memphis Commission was one of many entities involved in those early conversations. Its role included demonstrating what the current Downtown landscape looks like while creating a picture of what it could be with ServiceMaster in the fold.
“To lose an admired corporation like ServiceMaster would’ve been devastating to the Greater Memphis community so it was all hands on deck,” said Terence Patterson, president of the Downtown Memphis Commission. “But it was also reminding ServiceMaster why Memphis, and from our vantage point in particular, why Downtown Memphis was the best point for what the company wanted to do today and what it’s trying to achieve going forward.”
For the economic development team, part of its role is to provide information to outside companies looking to relocate to or add a location in the Memphis community. But equally as important is keeping current businesses in the city.
“Most job growth comes from existing businesses,” Herbison said. “Eighty percent of jobs come from companies you already have. We pay a lot of attention to local businesses and help them expand and grow. It’s a big focus of ours.”
A challenge the Chamber often has in recruiting current companies that are also considering other cities is the fact those communities often can put additional incentives on the table for the recruitment of new jobs. The 1,200 employees ServiceMaster will bring to its Downtown headquarters by the end of 2017 easily could have been preparing to relocate to another state. The Chamber provided all the data and information ServiceMaster needed to make its decision. And while that work kept business in the city, it ultimately was vital for the Chamber’s other members, too.
“When we can keep more than 1,000 jobs in Memphis, that keeps a lot of money for small businesses and bank accounts in the community,” Herbison said. “This says to the membership that it’s time to be proud of what we’re doing in Memphis. We have an environment that allows companies to want to relocate to Downtown Memphis.”

Story by: Lance Wiedower
Photo by: Isaac Singleton

Posted: 10/11/2016 1:39:21 PM | with 0 comments
Filed under: Crossroads, Development, Downtown, Economic, Headquarters, Memphis, ServiceMaster

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The latest news from the Greater Memphis Chamber. For more information, contact Director of Communications Christina Meek at (901) 543-3504 ( or Communications Specialist Jenny C. Fish at (901) 543-3558 (