Global production company sets up shop in South Lake Tahoe
November 15, 2017
After a year of work, a refurbished building on Ski Run Boulevard now houses the headquarters of a global video and photography production company with clients like Google, Patagonia and Subaru.
Previously based out of Portland, Maine, Novus Select and its team of photographers, directors and producers decided to centralize their company in South Lake Tahoe, the longtime home of partner Corey Rich.
"We made the decision to move the business to Tahoe two years ago, partially selfishly because I love the mountains, but it also affords an incredible lifestyle for employees and raising families," said Rich.
But to get the office space they desired, it was going to take some work.
With the help of Tahoe-based Sierra Sustainable Builders and friend Chris McNamara — founder of fellow Ski Run Boulevard-based review company OutdoorGearLab — Novus Select transformed an old building into a mountain-modern work place. The project wrapped up this October.
The former cabin-style building now features a rusted metal exterior and contemporary floor-to-ceiling window and fixtures. The understated interiors include tokens of startup culture, like a built-in beer tap and a faucet for sparkling water.
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All but two of the company's 14 staff members now reside on the South Shore, including recent Los Angeles-transplant and Novus partner Wynn Ruji.
"If it weren't for this business and what Chris has done with OutdoorGearLab and other businesses that I've seen be developed in the last couple of years, like the Coachman Hotel, it would have been a lot less appealing to move here," said Ruji. "It's exciting to see that people are looking to bring in new businesses to town, but still retain what Tahoe is — a smaller, yet progressive, mountain town."
Ruji, Rich and the other Novus Select members spend a huge portion of the year traveling, and the projects they've worked on this year are as diverse as they are impressive.
"It's safe to say that on any given week there are three to four projects going on around the globe," said Rich. "It's everything from Fortune 100 commercial/advertising work in both the still and video world, to documentary film work. We love that diversity.
"A couple of months ago Bligh [Gillies] and another of our contributors were 100-plus miles off the coast of Brazil on a deep-water research vessel with two submarines for 30 days doing a project for the California Academy of Sciences looking for new species with leading marine biologists."
Ruji spent time in New Zealand producing an ad campaign for the 2018 Subaru Outback and in Costa Rica photographing a travel story for a London magazine, in addition to projects in Shanghai and Thailand.
"This year we did virtual reality profiles of six Olympians around the globe which will start airing on NBC's website in the buildup to the winter Olympics," said Rich, who in the first six months of the year broke his previous travel record of 150,000 miles.
"But we're equally excited about what we can do here in town," said Ruji. "Although I love being able to travel to these exotic places, I really love it here, too. If I can combine the two and work with local people, interesting people or companies, that's kind of … ideal."
Along with other business owners on Ski Run Boulevard, the teams behind OutdoorGearLab and Novus Select are hoping to attract more economic development to the neighborhood.
"Part of the story with this building was showing others that it doesn't have to cost so much — and you don't need to be a developer — to do something like this," said McNamara. "The whole goal was to do what we do the best, tell our story, and see who else shows up and gets inspired by it."
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