Source: Triangle Business Journal | Lauren K. Ohnesorge |November 9, 2017

Doug Speight (left), the soon-to-be new executive director of American Underground, and Adam Klein (right), currently AU's chief strategy officer.

Doug Speight (left), the soon-to-be new executive director of American Underground, and Adam Klein (right), currently AU’s chief strategy officer (AMERICAN UNDERGROUND)

After five years of leading Capitol Broadcasting Company’s American Underground, Adam Klein is taking a new position with the company in Durham.

Klein, who led the entrepreneurial co-working initiative as its chief strategy officer, is taking on the newly created role of director of strategy for multiple CBC properties in Durham and Rocky Mount, effective Jan. 1. In his new job, he’ll lead efforts to advance American Tobacco Campus, American Underground and Rocky Mount-based mixed-use development Rocky Mount Mills.

In his stead, serial entrepreneur Doug Speight takes over as executive director of American Underground starting Nov. 13.

In an interview following Thursday’s announcement, Klein says he’ll miss working at American Underground every day.

When Klein started in 2012, there were 35 companies in the American Underground system.

“Our hope all along was to build a physically dense entrepreneurial community and I’m grateful that that’s become a reality,” he says. “We’re home to nearly 275 companies within a few blocks of each other … That’s going to cement entrepreneurship as a key part of Durham’s economy.”

As for Speight, who founded equipment leasing startup Cathedral Leasing in 2015, Klein says he’s the perfect choice.

“Him being an entrepreneur gives me a great amount of excitement about what he’s going to be able to accomplish with the Underground team,” he says. “He’s going to understand firsthand the stresses our teams are under and the life of being an entrepreneur … I really feel like he’s going to step in and do big things.”

Speight’s biggest challenge will be narrowing his focus, Klein says.

“It’s the one challenge that I think is continual,” Klein notes. “There’s so many things to go work on, so many opportunities and new initiatives to launch, with limited resources. Which ones are you going to go after?”

American Underground @ Raleigh, 213 Fayetteville St.

American Underground @ Raleigh, (TBJ FILE PHOTO)

Klein has advice for Speight: “Have fun. … It’s such a fun role to be around inspiring entrepreneurs, people who are riding Razor scooters around the office and solving big problems.”

Speight says he plans to do exactly that – all while continuing to build on what American Underground is already doing in Durham. “On day one, the focus will be on our primary customer, the entrepreneurs, the founders and each of their teams, just digging in with them to make sure everything built by Adam and the AU team will continue,” he says.

One big issue will be American Underground’s Raleigh campus. The building opened as a co-working hub, the Raleigh arm of what the initiative was doing in Durham. Then the Iron Yard Academy, a code school, took over the entire building. Iron Yard, however, ceased operations earlier this year.

When asked if there’s a new plan for the space, Speight said, “Not just yet that we can announce.”