Compugen celebrates move into new home

Compugen HeadquartersJust call it “Club Compugen.” It’s okay. Harry Zarek did.

A who’s who of the Canadian IT channel, vendor and distribution communities showed up for this week’s grand opening of the solution provider’s new home at (to borrow Compugen marketing and services chief Andrew Stewart’s UK-turned-Italian accent) “Cento Via Renzo” in Richmond Hill, Ont.

The new facility boasts 120,000 square feet of space, up 75 per cent from the solution provider’s former digs. Zarek joked that he asked “Mr. Google” to put that in perspective.

“We’ve added two football fields in area of great growth potential for us to fuel our aspirations,” Zarek said.

While the space is much larger, many long-term Compugen ideas and policies are still in place. It’s still an open concept office, and even Zarek’s own office remains without even Les Nessman-style masking tape walls. The attitude has been extended to a ban on employees eating at their desks to encourage them to collaborate and chat over meals.

“We are transparent, we are in the open and we want to be perceived as that,” Zarek said.

The company’s labs and configuration center in particular gets a significant upgrade, with Zarek saying he expects it to rapidly ramp to over 200,000 systems per year as the company moves more heavily into reusing, repurposing and recycling used technology from and for its customers. Today, the company’s staging and integration facilities does 500 units per day on 20 benches, with a headcount up by five people in the new location.

The new warehouse retains about the same footprint as the old facility, but adds some height, having gone from 16-foot racks to 22-foot racks. It does see one significant upgrade for workers, though, especially in the summer – the new warehouse is air-conditioned.

The new building offers some environmental innovation as well, using more natural lighting to drop lighting costs by 40 per cent using sensors to reduce electrical lighting when natural lighting is sufficient, and using captured rainwater for landscape watering. The company has also greened itself by working with green vendors – all the furniture in the new offices are at least 30 per cent re-usable materials.

Speaking as he was on the currently-unoccupied third floor of the new facility, Zarek said he expects to see continued growth for the company as “we move from business driving innovation to consumers driving innovation,” wondering just what kind of devices he’d see coming out of the company’s integration labs in the future.

“We’re moving towards a world with more technology, and no matter how simple it may get, there will always be opportunities to design and implement that technology,” Zarek said.

Here are some other thoughts on the evening’s events:

  • “Club Compugen” refers to the third-floor space, which is currently uninhabited but was used to great effect as a party room for Wednesday night’s festivities. Zarek said the extra space was added to give the company room to grow over the next five years, but in the meantime, “If you know anyone who’s looking for office space….”
  • Newly re-elected mayor of Richmond Hill David Barrow was on hand (and “glad to be here still as mayor”) and recognized Compugen as a leader in the town’s business community, as well as a leading citizen when it comes to corporate social responsibility for its Green4Good program.
  • Jokes abounded about the company’s overcrowded former offices. Ahh, the challenges of rapid growth.
  • Vendor and distribution sponsors for the event included AMD, Arrow, Cisco, Citrix, HP, IBM, Intel, Kingston, Lenovo, Lexmark, NetApp, RIM, Symantec, Synnex and VMware.
  • Broaching the topic of building a new $20 million headquarters in the midst of one of the toughest economic climates in living memory, Zarek said it was Compugen management “betting on the people” of the company, both at headquarters and coast-to-coast, that “gave me the courage to make the long-term investment.”