When discussing the things that make St. Louis unique and beautiful, the conversation quickly turns to its architecture. From the French influence seen throughout Soulard to the Victorian flair of Lafayette Square, or even the Tudor and Colonial revival homes sprinkled around the city, St. Louisans often boasts about its beautiful and historic buildings and as compared to other cities, fairly reasonable price tags. This time, however, we are not focusing on the classic brick or the gilded details St. Louis is proud of and known for. Instead, we’re focused on something much less ornate, figuratively, and literally.
Your best view of them is likely what you get when you glance down from a window seat while flying into or out of St. Louis. Plain, nondescript square and rectangle buildings. Ranging in size from a few thousand square feet to several hundred thousand, they are typically set apart in industrial parks and on the fringes of the city. If not for some logos painted on their roofs or simple signage for delivery drivers, most people would have no reason to know about what is inside these unembellished structures.
While perhaps most St. Louisans have no reason to notice these buildings, every St. Louisan would feel the impact if they weren’t there. These structures provide the backbone and pipeline of industry in our city. Peek inside the particularly big ones and find massive distribution centers for giants like Amazon, Hershey’s, FedEx, and more. Aside from the packages consumers are anxiously waiting for, most of the activities and contents that exist within these buildings may not be for consumers at all. Most are instead manufacturers or distributors who only interact with other businesses.
And yet, the activities happening within these buildings are a crucial component of the success of our region and make it a national and even global player. The innovation, grit, and production happening behind these walls keep all of St. Louis humming. From the meat processing facility that supplies the delicious Wagyu beef you order at your favorite local restaurant, to the innovative manufacturer of controlled environmental chambers that end up in universities’ research departments, museums, and even with NASA, to the thermoplastic rubber manufacturer that fabricates components that end up in your HVAC system at home, or your car, or in all types of construction, and the industrial bolt manufacturer for projects like Busch Stadium and the Golden Gate Bridge—St. Louis’s square buildings represent amazing job creators, tax base contributors, community-centric businesses that are invested in our region, and the success of the businesses they interact with.
The irony in it all is that without these unexceptional-looking buildings, St. Louis would not be the multi-faceted, exciting, beautiful place that it is. These businesses, the hard-working, invested leaders running them and their teams are the reason St. Louis is able to be the vibrant hub that it is—for our businesses and consumers alike.
So next time you fly to or from St. Louis or drive past an industrial park, and you spot one of these mundane-looking square buildings with an unfamiliar logo plastered on the side, remember they, too, are part of what makes St. Louis so beautiful. And while we don’t expect you to go bragging about these buildings or their occupants at your next dinner party, these are just the types of businesses we love to champion and support here at Saint Louis Bank.