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Sunday, 16 September 2012 17:59

Interior design important for tech firm’s new space

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Netech Corp. conference room Netech Corp. conference room
GRAND RAPIDS — Most businesses need more than just a sign on the wall to let customers know what their company stands for and what they offer.

For growing technology firm Netech Corp., the office interiors are just as important as office exteriors.

Founded in 1996 by Jim Engen, Grand Rapids-based Netech has grown from five people to 300 employees spread across six different states in the Midwest and Northeast. The company provides IP-based integration services including network systems, data centers, physical security and media solutions.

In June, Netech moved from its former location at 44th Street and Broadmoor to a brand new 29,000-square-foot headquarters at 6355 East Paris Avenue and built on 17 acres the company purchased five years ago in expectation of its growth and a need for larger space.

With 70 locally based employees, the company knew it needed a cohesive facility. Each department of the company had been in adjacent, leased office space, but the lines of communication were not as smooth as they could have been if the company had its own space, executives said.

“What happened was sales were in a different office than engineering and administration (was) in another,” said Tim Engen, general manager for Netech. “It was becoming harder to communicate and collaborate.”

Heading into the building project, Engen and Netech’s other executives wanted to make sure the company’s new space reflected its function as a high-tech firm. The company wanted to invest in a place that customers and prospective clients could recognize as a modern firm that supports other community businesses. The company contracted First Companies for construction services and chose Interphase Interiors Inc. for its furniture and design services.

“People are looking for a lot of companies that install the same technology we sell,” Engen said. “With our home base here in (Grand Rapids), people can see we are invested in the community so we’ve made local business partners for our building and interiors. I think it can be a key differentiator when competing with others who provide similar services.”

With competitors like CDW, Open Systems Technologies Inc. and Sentinel Technologies Inc., Netech certainly isn’t the biggest player in the game, but the company had $154 million in sales last year and expects to best $200 million for 2012. Engen said the company’s five-year growth plan is to reach $500 million in sales.

Engen said he thinks Netech’s new building and office design will help the company’s employee attraction and retention goals.

“I think it’s a huge tool having this beautiful new environment,” Engen said. “As a tech company, we’ve struggled with talent issues in past years (and) finding and keeping people.”

The price tag for outfitting the office topped out at $250,000, much of which went to the installation of touchdown stations, five multiplatform enabled conference rooms and a complete first floor workout facility.

“I think where Netech is unique is in the environment they’ve created for their people,” said Randy DeBoer, president of Interphase Interiors. “When you walk in the space, the impression is a high-tech environment, but also a class organization that does care about its people.”

One obvious feature is the large amount of glass incorporated around the offices. While the workstations are sectioned off in a somewhat traditional cubicle style, glass keeps everyone visible.

DeBoer said more customers from diverse corporate backgrounds want office environments with easy visibility and open space. The same goes for the touchdown stations, which are essentially plug-in sites for employees who work in and out of the office, he added.

Netech plans to expand into Pittsburgh, Milwaukee and Cleveland by the end of this year and recently leased 15,000 square feet of space in the metro Detroit area, which Interphase is also contracted to outfit.

Read 6512 times Last modified on Sunday, 16 September 2012 19:44

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