LENOX >> After 22 years in business here, Kevin Sprague, founder and owner of the Studio Two marketing and design agency, is closing his downtown office and setting up home base in Miami.
But, in a phone interview, he emphasized that his Berkshire clients will be served by two out of his five locally based employees, Christine Cooney and Amanda Hill, working out of their Lenox and Pittsfield homes.
Sprague bills the new setup as a "virtual organization," pointing out that rapidly advancing online technology make a physical presence unnecessary. His other staffers will be based in Miami and Seattle.
"We had been asking ourselves where we could expand our footprint and use our experience to crack new markets," said Sprague. Since 2009, he added, "we had been exploring that, a deliberate act of change and progress, working diligently to try to expand from our position in the Berkshires."
Sprague, 50, opened the satellite office in Miami two years ago after considering Boston and New York City but finding them "very competitive and expensive."
As he spent more time in Florida, he spotted "clues that I was on the right track, making new contacts. I noticed it changed the perception people had about our business, that we were not just a Berkshires organization. The phone started ringing with opportunities we had not seen previously."
Now, the company's client base has widened to New York, Boston, California, New Mexico, Washington D.C., Maryland and Toronto, Ontario.
Sprague opened Studio Two as a home office in 1994, expanded into a building attached to Spague's Lenox garage by 2000 and in 2011 moved into a space above Bistro Zinc on Church Street and then in a small building behind the restaurant.
Current area clients include Barrington Coffee Roasting Co., Barrington Stage, Berkshire Mountain Distillers, Berkshire International Film Festival, the Berkshire Museum, Hancock Shaker Village and the Lenox Chamber of Commerce.
Sprague and his staff will maintain the Chamber's Lenox.org site as well as more than 300 websites nationally.
"Website development and management are the biggest parts of our business," he said.
The company recently launched new sites for the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge and the Bennington (Vermont) Museum.
Studio Two defines itself as "an extra partner to organizations that seek to expand, grow and develop in the area of strategic marketing, product branding and online presence," Sprague said. "My job is to stay current with the development of tools and technology to bring them to our clients."
After several severe winters, especially in 2014-15, Sprague said employees had trouble reaching the Lenox office on several occasions. "We found it was more efficient and productive for people to work from home," he said. "We noticed that the physical office was almost a distracting environment."
"The way people work has been changing because of technology," Sprague said. "We're an interesting test case of putting that into action."
The issue of effective communications with clients is solved by technology, he maintained. "I've never physically met the majority of our clients," he noted. "We share content on screens and in video conferences, and in many cases that's better."
Asked whether Berkshire clients have voiced concern over the office shutdown, Sprague conceded "change is difficult, so certainly for some clients, this is a transition that's not comfortable for them. With long-time clients, there's a lot of trust, many have experienced that we're more responsive and able to address issues quickly."
Although a few clients have "transitioned away," he noted, the physical relocation to Miami was not necessarily the reason. "I don't think I can identify a single client who said, 'I can't work with you anymore because you're not here.' "
He countered any perception that his Berkshire location held him back, "I'm a big supporter, the Berkshires offer a great environment and many benefits for people seeking to live and work in a creative place," Sprague said, adding that it was the physical office that was holding him back.
After acknowledging that "we've had terrific opportunities here, I'm proud of our portfolio and clients, this is about me at looking at, 'Is there more, can I look at the world in a different way?' " Sprague said.
But Sprague considers the Berkshires "a tricky place to make a living, we have this beautiful, amazing international economy with arts organizations and the summer crowd. But living here 12 months a year, you have to cobble it together from multiple sources, and opportunities are hard to come by."
Stressing that he harbors "no hard feelings," Sprague said: "I'm happy to continue working with any organization that would like to find out how we can help them develop and grow."
"Many people are working really hard to develop a 21st century Berkshires and maybe there are answers in the experiences I've had," he said. "It's never too soon to imagine that even though you're in the Berkshires, there's a possibility the rest of the world is your market, is open and can be pursued."
Contact Clarence Fanto at 413-637-2551.