It may be the jobs story of 2018, and beyond, in Oro Valley.
Last month, Simpleview moved the majority of its Tucson staff —185 people—to a 41,000-square-foot building at 8950 N. Oracle Road. It was previously the Pulte Homes building, a copper-clad structure on the east side of North Oracle Road toward Pusch Ridge.
Today, it is Simpleview’s new corporate headquarters.
Inside, you’ll find The Grand Hall, which is big enough to accommodate all of Simpleview’s employees who can view large screens at the south end, yet cozy enough for small-group coffee on couches. Open work spaces without walls are filled with standing desks, allowing employees to stand or sit while they work. Pop-in rooms surround work stations for private meetings and phone calls. People bring their dogs to work. All the spaces are brightly lit, and the view of Pusch Ridge out the east windows is incomparable.
It’s a big space for a growing company; Simpleview aims for 20 percent annual growth.
Simpleview is a cutting-edge provider of customer relationship management, content management systems, web design and digital marketing initiatives for destination marketing organizations around the world. Visit Tucson is an example of a destination marketing organization.
The company had previously been located in five suites in the La Cholla Corporate Center, just across the street from Foothills Mall. It also maintains offices in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Oslo, Norway and in Mexico City, as well as remote locations across the country.
What makes the Simpleview story more compelling is that it’s “local people making good.” Simpleview CEO Ryan George, Vice President of Finance Scott Meredith, Chief Technology Officer Bill Simpson and Vice President of Operations Sean Moyle attended Canyon del Oro High School in Oro Valley and grew up in Tucson. Moyle said he and George met on the playground in the fourth grade at Mesa Verde Elementary School. Years later, they and others are leading a company at the leading edge of the digital evolution.
“I’ve never been tempted to leave, and I never will,” George said.
Before the big move, here’s what Ryan George had to say:
So the new office—why Oro Valley?
Great question. The decision was more luck than design, so the fact that such an incredible building was available at a time that we needed the space for growth was the primary factor. But as most of our staff looks forward to the move, they’ve started to discover how amazing a place Oro Valley is to live, work and play.
One of my business partners and I happen to live in Oro Valley, and while it might be a bit of a trek for some, I would also venture to guess that many will move to the area given the amazing schools, natural beauty, and amenities that I’ve been lucky enough to see develop over the past 40 years.
My friend Maura Gast, who heads up the Irving, Texas, Convention and Visitors Bureau once said, “If you build a place where people want to live, you will build a place where people want to work … If you build a place where people want to work, you will build a place where business has to be … If we build a place where business has to be, we will be back to building a place where people have to visit.”
I believe the Town of Oro Valley has done an excellent job of building just that sort of a place and we can’t wait to bring our business, staff and visitors to the community.
Do you ever feel Tucson is just too small for your growing company, or were you ever tempted to relocate elsewhere (more of a “tech” town maybe)? In other words, what’s kept you in Tucson?
As I travel the world, I tell anyone who will listen just how amazing Tucson is and that Simpleview might not exist had we tried to start it in another city better known for tech. The extraordinary cost of living and office space in places like San Francisco, Austin or even Denver wouldn’t have made it possible to hire or retain the talent we have or provide the environment that we are able to.
Beyond the cost of doing business, I also believe that Tucson is an ideal place for start-ups because the U of A provides a steady stream of talent from an MIS program that is consistently ranked among the best in the country; our quality of life is second to none; and opportunities for spouses and partners at places like Roche / Ventana Medical, Raytheon and Davis Monthan abound.
I’ve never been tempted to leave, and never will.
Talk to me about some of the advantages of the new office.
More of the company under one roof. More conference space. More open atmosphere. More natural lighting. Gym nearby aligns with health initiatives.
The points above are spot on, but taking it a step further, Simpleview’s mission is to provide an environment where caring for others, quality, productivity and accountability drive profit, innovation and service excellence.
That’s a mouthful, but our physical environment should exemplify that statement, so having more of our staff under one roof will foster collaboration and increase efficiencies as a result. We’ll have fewer offices, more open workspaces, motorized sit / stand workstations throughout, almost double the meetings space, and pop-ins for when people need an office for calls or one-on-one meetings.
You grew up in Tucson/Oro Valley, attended the U of A. For 11 years straight, Simpleview has been named to the Inc. 5000 list of the fastest-growing private companies in the United States. It’s gone from a company of four in 2001 to a company that employs more than 235 people and works with more than 450 customers throughout North America and around the world in 2018. You’ve said there’s no place you’d rather live or start a business. Oro Valley: “100 Best Places in America to Live and Launch a Small Business — Fortune Small Business Magazine, April 2008”. What’s your advice for other Tucson or Oro Valley start-ups?
The best advice that I can give would be to surround yourself with good people. We’re all the sum of the people in our lives and the influence they have on your attitude and decision making can make or break you— not just in business, but also in life. You also have to put in the work, be willing to take risks, accept mistakes and move on from them quickly.
You network with a lot of people from a lot of different places at Summit. In your experience, what do they think of Tucson? Or, tell me a story about an out-of-state or out-of-country customer who was impressed with Tucson.
Between our Summit and customer visits, we probably bring around 1,000 people per year to Tucson and people are amazed by the natural beauty, “how much greener it is than they expected,” and the truly unique landscape that the Sonoran Desert provides. Europeans are especially enthralled by the cowboy history, Mexican food and the aspects and influences of our history that make our culture as unique as our landscape.
Do you think Tucson (or Phoenix) could ever become perceived as a tech hub, perhaps not at the level of San Francisco, but as a known locale for innovative technologies?
I think it is fair to say that Phoenix is already held in this regard and the strong history of great companies like Hughes Aircraft, Burr Brown, and AOL’s past presence in Tucson echo throughout our community and support the fact that we are a tech hub.
That said, places like San Francisco and Austin are truly special, yet built on similar catalysts. Prior to DELL’s rise to the top of the PC market in the ’90s, few people would have predicted that Austin would have grown in the ways that it has. Tucson needs similar success stories that allow founders to build flagships, so they can become funders of new start-ups and an ecosystem can be built.
However, in order for this to happen, Arizona absolutely has to focus on better pay for teachers and better K-12 education, not only to prepare kids for the future, but to recruit good talent. With all that we have to offer as a community, nobody wants to move their family to a place with underperforming schools. Of course, Oro Valley’s schools are excellent and I am proud to be a product of CDO, but generally speaking, I believe that growing communities start with a focus on education.
Dave Perry is the Greater Oro Valley Chamber of Commerce President and CEO.
This story has been updated.