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Business North - The Daily Briefing - Business Newspaper Online
ARI unveils new downtown office
PHOTO: ARI President and CEO Roy W. Olivier
Redevelopment work spanning six months has produced a large, modern Duluth office for ARI Network Services, which employs 125 local workers who support the company’s array of web and software products.
ARI on Thursday invited community leaders to its 20,000-square-foot remodeled office at 120 W. Second St. The open house came almost exactly 18 months after ARI purchased 50 Below, a Duluth-based Internet marketing and web design firm that went bankrupt. It leases the commercial space from Bill Wilson, who purchased the office structure from Advanstar, a publishing and trade show firm that has reduced its Duluth presence for two decades. ARI’s new space replaces four separate downtown Duluth offices previously occupied by 50 Below.
“When we arrived here and walked into the (50 Below) offices, we were frankly taken aback by the working conditions. We knew immediately that we needed to re-engineer the work space to increase productivity and keep people happy and proud of where they work,” ARI President and CEO Roy W. Olivier said in an interview. “We looked at a lot of different spaces,” eventually selecting Wilson’s structure which, at the time, was an empty shell. “We spent about six months and about $400,000 refurbishing this space, and in (February), we moved all of our employees here.”
The site at 120 W. Second St. has been welcomed by employees, and productivity has risen, he said.
Publicly traded ARI, which has acquired 15 companies in 15 years, has not moved any of them to different cities. That’s also is its commitment to the Duluth staff, Oliver said.
“When we really run the math, it doesn’t make sense to move an office from Location A to Location B, unless Location’s B’s labor costs are 50 percent cheaper, and that’s rarely the case,” he explained.
50 Below “built a phenomenal company from nothing to a multi-million-dollar software firm that was a leader in its space. The employees loved the company and its products and stuck with it. I’m just happy we can provide these people with a space they’re proud to show up at,” he said.
ARI designs web sites and software that is sold on a subscription basis to facilitate the online store needs of dealers, distributors and original-equipment manufacturers. Its software is cloud based and it stores clients’ data on its own servers. About 5,500 dealers use ARI’s website products and 18,000 use its e-catalog products. Representative customers include Harley-Davidson and Stihl.
The NASDAQ-listed firm generated $33 million in revenues during the prior 12 months. About $8.9 million was generated by its Duluth team, Olivier said, which will produce $9.5 million to $10 million during 2014.
Its new office was developed to accommodate 180 people.
“We’ve been adding a couple of people a month. If we keep hitting our sales targets, we’ll continue to hire,” Olivier said.
Salaries range from about $33,000 to more than $100,000, he said.
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