When Magnus co-owner Eric Lofquist and his wife, Dottie, drove in 2007 past an 1850s barn for sale on Chillicothe Road in Chagrin Falls, they weren’t sure what they would do with it, but they felt compelled to take a look. Both have a lifelong interest in farmhouses, and one visit was all the convincing they needed to buy it.
The same year, Eric and his business partner, Scott Forster, formed Magnus with the purchase of a 25-acre industrial plant in Painesville Township that would become the company’s hub for unique natural products manufacturing. Exactly how the entrepreneurs would purpose the facility wasn’t immediately clear, but just like the barn, there was confidence in letting the opportunities unfold.
Set on 7.3 acres, Eric and Dottie, an interior designer, first imagined that the barn might one day become their primary residence, though it was zoned for agricultural use. But as time went by and the area became more commercial, they weren’t feeling it.
A few years later, Eric and Scott were ready to move Magnus headquarters to the suburbs, and Chagrin Falls was a natural location for the east-siders’ fast-growth, award-winning firm.
As the design vision began to form, the barn became the best, not to mention coolest, choice for space. After working closely with architects and Bainbridge Township to achieve construction approval, the major transformation began in early 2012.
At the end of last year, Magnus moved in to what visitors and employees are describing as an architecturally stunning, incredibly cozy and rustic but modern office so homey and nostalgic it hardly feels like work.
“I still marvel at it every day – that this is where we get to do business,” said Scott. “Dottie did an amazing job of representing our culture as a U.S.-made, sustainable global products company and capturing the spirit of who we are as individuals.”
She describes the overall design style as eclectic. From lighting fixtures to furniture and accessories, items in the office were sourced from a wide variety of local and coast-to-coast suppliers. Renewable materials were used wherever possible. The grand chandeliers and other overhead lights alone were purchased from nearly a dozen different manufacturers.
“I was hoping for original fixtures made from recycled products, but these are really hard to come by, so most of the lights were designed to look aged,” said Dottie.
It’s a deliberate decorating process and still a work-in-progress. “It would’ve been easier to fill the halls and walls with stuff quickly, but I prefer to hold off until the ‘perfect’ find comes our way.”
To meet structural design standards, the barn roof and upper level were torn down, but restored to match the original look as closely as possible. All salvageable parts of the old wood, beams and siding were reused throughout the space.
The walls in all the offices are wood, as is the flooring throughout. Every office has a distressed, barn-style door in white, and the first office off the second-story lobby has two original horse stall doors that slide.
Guests enter through the lower lobby, where “Walls of Fame” host stories about Magnus’ success. A display case, originally from France, presents awards the company has won for growth, innovation and management excellence, including regional and national Entrepreneur Of The Year® honors from Ernst & Young and the top Weatherhead 100 accolade for fastest-growing Northeast Ohio businesses.
A cushy leather couch, textured, fabric chairs and period accent pieces surround the upper lobby’s floor-to-ceiling stone fireplace. A third-story loft is adorned with a love seat and light brown cow-print chairs that match the second floor’s cow-print throw rug between guest workstations.
Down the hall, the original grain silo was converted into a conference room by adding a floor and small, high-up windows to let in some natural light. “This is my favorite room. The roof is tin, and I wanted to keep it rusty. I love rust,” said Dottie, who also had a rusty iron fence installed in the loft that overlooks the second-floor lobby. Farm-inspired accessories in old metals can be found on walls and tables.
“I think the feeling the office portrays is warmth. We didn’t want anything sterile,” said Eric. “The good energy leads to greater happiness and creativity.” Inspiration and imagination are keys to Magnus’ achievements in natural animal feed ingredients, natural industrial and consumer waxes, and alternative liquid fuels.
Between the outside entrance and interior, three American flags are present. The property eagerly awaits spring landscaping. In the meantime, employees are happy for indoor parking.
“It’s neat when a space has a rich history and tells such a story. Magnus is really blessed to be able to write new chapters here,” said Dottie. In addition to Dottie’s interior design business, Atelier Home, she recently formed Chagrin Falls Architectural Salvage & Redesign with partner Tom Demrovsky.
The company preserves pieces of design history from old barns, homes and buildings by salvaging hardwood floors, beams, stone, recycled brick, slate, barnstone and other products. Much like Dottie did for Magnus, her new business sources far and wide for special building materials and decorative items.