Refinery 46 Krannert alumni Brian Schutt and Jesse Cross, who formed Homesense Heating and Cooling in 2009, are targeting the home services and construction industries with their new venture, Refinery 46, a recently opened co-working space in Indianapolis. (Photo provided)

Partners in Progress

Krannert alums open niche-focused co-working and incubator space in Indy

Refinery 46, a new co-working and incubator space in Indianapolis targeting the home services and construction industries, marked its official opening in May with a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by the city’s mayor. Co-founders and Krannert School alumni Brian Schutt (BSM ’03) and Jesse Cross (BSM ’02), however, have been working toward the concept for many years.

Schutt and Cross, who knew each other casually during their time at Purdue, forged a post-graduation friendship as members of the same church. Cross, who studied finance at Krannert, started his career with an auditing firm before entering the real estate market by buying rental properties and renovating homes. Meanwhile, Schutt worked in sales and marketing.

Their relationship blossomed into a partnership in 2009 when they opened Homesense Heating and Cooling, a successful HVAC company that is now housed in their current venture. In fact, the idea for Refinery 46 came from their own experience of changing the location of their company five times during its first six years in business.

Refinery 46 Ribbon Cutting“We’re the best testimonial for Refinery 46 and our own anchor tenant,” Schutt says. “Plumbers, electricians and other contractors may do their jobs exceptionally well, but that doesn’t always extend to the business side. What we really want to do is empower our tenants with knowledge and give them a launchpad to grow their business, share best practices and have an impact on the community.”

The 30,000-square-foot co-working space is located in a renovated Double 8 grocery headquarters and warehouse near 46th Street and Keystone Avenue. It features offices, lockers, shipping and receiving docks, training space and an in-building microbrewery and Cuban kitchen. Members also get access to training sessions from attorneys, accountants and marketing specialists.

Tenants can move into Refinery 46 starting at $150 a month, which includes all common area usage and amenities, private offices between $500 and $750 per month, or an executive level floor with spaces starting at $1,250 a month. In addition to Homesense, its current tenants include Heritage Builders, Christina’s Complete Clean and Sync Technology, which puts it at over 60 percent occupancy.

Schutt and Cross are now focusing on filling the rest of Refinery 46 with high-potential, values-driven small businesses.

“The popularity of co-working spaces on the East and West Coasts has swept across the country to the Midwest, so it’s a growing trend,” Cross says. “We see it not only as a practical solution from a cost perspective but also as a knowledge-sharing platform. I think our industry gets forgotten because we’re not as sexy and cool as others, but it’s a niche that’s not being leveraged in most urban areas and has a lot of room for growth.”

City leaders agree.

“Refinery 46 will help revitalize the Keystone corridor and provide workforce development opportunities for electricians, plumbers, painters, contractors and others in the industry,” said Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett at the ribbon-cutting. “Industry-specific co-working spaces are growing significantly around the country, and Refinery 46’s focus on developing talent complements a need in our city.”