Advertising agency P.Doc Creative Partners has just moved into a space in the Dana Warp Mill and is another unique business in Westbrook’s growing downtown.

P.Doc partners Sheldon Perkins and Taja Dockendorf said they left Portland because they needed to grow. They looked around in Portland but didn’t find anything that fit them. And, as so many business are doing these days, they found what they were looking for in Westbrook.

The company consists of four people but expects to grow in the next couple years. However, the owners don’t plan on growing too much because it would go against their mantra.

Perkins and Dockendorf left larger advertising agencies to start a smaller agency that could be more fluid and flexible to serve small and mid-sized businesses better than the larger firms.

Perkins said he thinks larger firms tend to be structured so they become process-driven rather than client-driven in their approaches to advertising, which he thinks is counterproductive. He said many of the larger firms try to fit the client into their process rather than fit the process to the client.

P.Doc takes a different approach, starting fresh for every new client. With only four people, the company is built so the individuals have complimenting skills. Perkins handles strategic planning for the clients while Dockendorf does the graphic design. They also have a copywriter and a photographer. They plan to grow but not to more than 12 workers, and they will still use a small-team approach to keep things face-to-face and personal with clients.

According to Dockendorf, when they decided to move they looked around Portland but couldn’t find the right kind of space. Perkins said it was very difficult to find a place with a good creative feel to it. He said most of what they found was just average office space. They were looking for something different.

After a while they expanded the search beyond Portland, as many businesses are doing these days, and looked in Westbrook. Dockendorf said they found a number of possible spaces in Westbrook but decided finally on the Dana Warp Mill because if offered the creative feel they were looking for.

“It has just enough funkiness to it to feel like a place to do creative work in,” said Perkins, with its high ceilings, openness, loft feel and natural light, which is important for working with color and graphics.

According to Perkins, 500 square feet of the just over 2,000-square-foot space will be dedicated to a photography studio while the remainder will be open office and meeting space. He said they will keep the office space open, which works well for them because they collaborate a lot in their work.

“There’s excellent creative energy with the building, too,” said Dockendorf, who is excited for the openness and creative energy in the new space.

The two owners said they were also impressed with the energy in Westbrook from new businesses popping up all around.

“It seems like there’s a lot more new energy in Westbrook than in Portland,” said Perkins, who added he was surprised by what he found in Westbrook. He said he thinks Portland is still working off the energy created by new business in the 1980s, while Westbrook is just on the beginning of the growth curve.

“There’s a lot of young businesses with good ideas growing out there,” he said.

Dockendorf said some of their clients are surprised by their choice to leave Portland and come to Westbrook, but after she tells them about Westbrook the clients seem to think the move was a good idea.

“It’s been an interesting education for our clients that are in Portland,” she said.

P.Doc are now neighbors with the Bakery Photographic Collective, another creative group that left Portland for the shore of the Presumpscot River in downtown Westbrook. The Bakery Photographic Collective is a group of professional photographers that pools its resources for dark-room space.

Justin Van Soest, member of the collective, is looking forward to having another creative company as a neighbor in the mill, one that may share the same goals.

“That’s exactly the type of business we’re thrilled to have as neighbors,” he said.

P.Doc moved in over the weekend while the Bakery Photographic Collective has closed up shop in Portland but won’t have its space in the mill ready until the end of July or mid August. The two companies have talked about throwing a “business-warming” party together when they’re all settled in.


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