With the advent of the Internet and high-speed electronic communications, some prognosticators saw the end of the office coming — after all, if business owners and their employees could communicate instantly over a computer or by text message, who would need to make the journey to a physical business center? But for a host of reasons, demand for brick-and-mortar office space remains high; and Bergen County in particular continues to be a favorite. Officials from some large and small firms spilled the beans about what attracted them to Bergen County.
A high-flyer alights in Paramus
When iFLY wanted to land in New Jersey, the owners quickly trained their sights on the Bergen County borough of Paramus. The company, which bills itself as the world’s largest indoor skydiving operation, has more than 30 locations across the U.S., and more than a dozen overseas. Its facilities use a cushion of air to replicate the sensation of freefall, letting people experience the thrill of a parachute jump without using an airplane.
“Our new-tunnel opening team did their due diligence and chose Paramus,” said iFLY Sales Manager Joshua Braunstein, who grew up in Fair Lawn. “I remember seeing many businesses prosper in Bergen County.”
The 5,200-square-foot facility which opened in mid-2018 — is located on the busy thoroughfare Route 4 and has about 25 employees there. “With the help of iFLY certified flight instructors, customers learn to fly, control their bodies in the air and experience true human flight,” according to a company announcement.
“Since 1998, more than nine million customers worldwide have experienced human flight at iFLY in a variety of ways,” said Chief Executive Officer David Kirchhoff. “As a first time or repeat flyer on a fun excursion with family and friends; a student on an educational science, technology, engineering and math [STEM] field trip; a professional skydiver or member of the military for training; a birthday party guest; or a corporate customer looking for a unique team-building activity. Thanks to iFLY, flying is finally available to everyone.”
“The Paramus location was attractive because of factors like the visibility along the highway, the surrounding county’s demographics and the area’s population density,” Braunstein added. “Between corporate and individual activity, we average about 160 visitors a day, and more during the weekends. Our oldest customer to date in New Jersey was a woman who celebrated her 89th birthday by taking an indoor skydive, and our youngest was a three-year-old child.”
The cure for a growing health care company
In March, the health care and infection prevention company Professional Disposables International Inc. (PDI) opened its new global headquarters in Woodcliff Lake. “We were moving our headquarters from our previous location in Orangeburg, N.Y — Rockland County — and our plant remains in Orangeburg,” said Shawn A. Smith, PDI executive vice president, general counsel and chief compliance officer. “So we wanted a location that would keep the commute similarly convenient for those employees making the move, as well as to be near enough to the Orangeburg site for employees remaining in that location to visit the new facility for meetings. Bergen County was perfect for us in that respect. We also liked the easy access to amenities in the Woodcliff Lake area, such as restaurants, shopping and day care.”
She said having a physical location is still “very important. Although our associates have more latitude to work from home or other locations, having a physical space where people can connect and work together is important to developing and building strong working relationships with coworkers, customers and suppliers.”
PDI put a lot of planning into refurbishing the new Bergen County headquarters, she added. “We put a good deal of thought into renovating our new building and designing on our space with the employee experience in mind,” according to Smith. “The idea was to create a world-class space and flexible working environment that is not only enjoyable to work in, but that also stimulates collaboration and innovation.”
They’re also in it for the long term. “We made a big investment in our headquarters and so far, we have been satisfied with all aspects of our new location,” she said, noting that PDI has long had another Bergen County facility, in Montvale. “We had previously shared the Montvale space with our affiliate company, Nice-Pak Products Inc., which has now taken over use of all of this space.”
An engineering firm builds for the future
Last October, the full-service engineering firm McLaren Engineering Group held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate its expansion to a 57,000-square-foot Class A corporate office in Woodcliff Lake. The firm has about 130 employees there, with room for more than 250 professionals.
“We are excited about the growth opportunities for our firm in New Jersey and the expansion of our regional footprint,” said company President and CEO Malcolm G. McLaren at the time. “Our new corporate office positions us for future growth while providing the platform to support our numerous New Jersey projects,” including the Wittpenn Bridge in Kearny and Caven Point Marine Terminal in Jersey City.
Located at 530 Chestnut Ridge Road, McLaren’s new office is “strategically positioned off the Garden State Parkway at exit 171, with easy access to NJ Transit rail and bus stations,” according a company announcement.
Local officials were enthusiastic about the new corporate resident. “Bergen County welcomes McLaren; the firm’s high-quality work is evident in its many infrastructure projects throughout the region,” Bergen County Executive Jim Tedesco noted at the opening. “McLaren will thrive in a county that offers an abundance of resources and fosters overall business growth.”
Cloud nine for a tech company
Late in 2018, convenience and growth opportunities spurred a cloud-based data backup and protection firm, OwnBackup, to sign a long-term lease for 30,000 square feet at 940 Sylvan Ave., a Class A building in Englewood Cliffs.
“Englewood Cliffs is convenient, close to the city and major highways,” said OwnBackup CEO Sam Gutmann, who’s from the area. “The building is really nice with a large floor plates; we’ve got 75 employees in it.”
The Bergen County location is great because it’s close to the New York area, “but you don’t have to deal with Hudson River crossing traffic,” he added, noting that the 10-year lease OwnBackup signed demonstrates its confidence. “We’re growing rapidly and we’re confident in the market opportunity for our business. We’re building out the space for significant expansion and are excited to double our team over the next 18 months.”
An entrepreneur gets a lift
About five years ago, competitive bodybuilder Aaron Seaton left a steady job as a project manager at a New York City architectural form to merge his passion for working out with a desire to run his own business. The choice for the launch’s location was not a heavy lift: it had to be Bergen County.
“It’s a great place to live,” said Seaton, a Fort Lee resident with a family. “And from a business aspect, Bergen County is filled with driven individuals. It’s a thriving county.”
Before launching TailorMade Bodiez, Seaton trained for nine years as a competitive bodybuilder. So far he has a total of about 10 employees at two locations in Bergen County — Cliffside Park and Englewood — where master trainers and others help clients get to their health and fitness goals.
Successful athletes and entrepreneurs are always looking for the next challenge, so it shouldn’t be surprising that Seaton recently launched an additional venture: an on-demand mobile laundry service called Suds on the Hudson. The desktop and mobile-app driven wash-dry-fold, and wash-hang dry company — he plans to expand to dry cleaning, too — dispatches drivers to customer’s buildings to pick up clothing and return them, clean, after one business day. Seaton, of course, wanted to hang his new business in a place with a perfect fit, and once again found it in Bergen County: the borough of Edgewater.