Real Estate and Technology

Software developer celebrates new home, growth

Century-old building has symbolic meaning for Atomic Object.

August 12, 2016
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Atomic Object
Atomic Object put approximately $2 million into renovating its new home, which is just down the street from its former Wealthy Street offices. Courtesy Atomic Object

It took about 19 months of planning and $2 million worth of renovation, but Atomic Object now has a home aligned with its mission to still be standing in 100 years.

The Grand Rapids-based software developer has officially moved into its new space in the century-old building it owns at 1034 Wealthy St. SE, Grand Rapids. It wasn’t far to move — only about 200 yards from its former headquarters at 941 Wealthy St. — but necessary for growth, said CEO Carl Erickson. He’s looking to lease the old location, where Atomic Object had been since 2003.

Atomic Object’s new two-story home, about 11,000 square feet, just about doubles the space of its old location, he said. Nearly 40 employees work out of the new location, and approximately 15 are based in Atomic Object’s Ann Arbor office that opened three years ago.

The company has a chance to earn a Michigan Economic Development Corp. grant by adding more employees and is looking to add developers with computer science or computer engineering backgrounds, Erickson said.

“We were pretty tight in our old space. The overall company size has doubled in the last six years. In the last three years, we went from about 35 to about 50 employees (in total),” he said.

“We don’t set a goal to grow, but our goal is to be the best at what we do. Ironically, focusing on what you do, people do want more of your services. And word of mouth grows.”

The 1914 building has housed a woodworking shop, a blacksmith, a car repair shop and showroom, a grocery store and now a software developer. Part of what makes it special to Erickson is the work that went into it.

Atomic Object put about $2 million into renovating the building, a job that went to Pioneer Construction Inc. of Grand Rapids. Pioneer took the building out of the “concrete nightmare around it,” Erickson said, and created a mix of new finishes on the “old bones” of the space. Pioneer also developed an open floor plan with several windows, an atrium and café space that he said makes it feel like one space.

“I’m surprised at how beautiful it is. I totally think it helps. You’ve got to have a place that’s nice. It’s got to work for you,” he said.

“Sometimes, I feel like I need to pinch myself to see where we are now, considering how much we’ve grown. The new building is an acknowledgement of our success and us looking forward to the future.”

Erickson said employee-owned Atomic Object has a vision to still be around and serving clients in 100 years.

“Where I see Atomic Object going, as we wrestle with growth, is ‘what does it mean to be a multi-office company?’” he said.

“In 2017, I see us coming to a point where we can feel the architecture and the structuring is right, and if we wanted to, we could pursue growth … through other cities to establish other offices.

“We like who we are and how we feel there’s a moral obligation to help clients.”

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