, a custom software developer known for its democratic culture and open-design office, will be moving into a 16,900-square-foot space at The Offices at Liberty Square at 500 E. Liberty St. in downtown Ann Arbor.
The new space, all on one floor, nearly triples the square footage of its current Kerrytown office. To give that some scale, Menlo's work space will more than double the size of a regulation baseball infield.
"Especially for the type of work we do and the way we do it, people often come in look at Menlo and they wonder, if we look really full, they wonder where they will fit their project in our company, in our space. And so we have to kind of build out the space ahead of the curve," says Rich Sheridan, president and founder of Menlo Innovations.
The firm's Kerrytown office was a tripling of its previous space, and now a tripling is taking place again. Menlo currently has 40 people on staff, a mix of full-time employees and independent contractors. Sheridan sees a doubling of that headcount in the next two years.
"It's always a little hard to predict, but we're certain we had our best year ever in 2011, so all indications are pointing up."
The build-out of the space is being finalized, with the move likely taking place in April. The office will be a big open room, with the high ceiling as a focal point, Sheridan says.
"We always want everybody to be within what we call "eyeshot and earshot" of one another. We want to be able to see each other all the way across the room," he explains. "We often jokingly refer to our internal company communication system as 'high-speed voice technology.'"
Quieter glassed-in conference rooms are available as needed, but conversing is a key part of the culture. "We don't like to use email when we communicate with each other internally in the company. We like communication that includes eyebrows."
The enhanced space means bigger options, such as a moms' room, to fit the company policy of allowing new mothers to bring their babies to work. Additionally, Menlo will be establishing a permanent area to host training workshops that are open to the public. In its current office, the training area is set up as needed and then taken down. And looking ahead, a new business accelerator under the Menlo umbrella is part of Sheridan's vision.
Menlo will also be sharing the floor, or more precisely, a door and a glass wall, with TechArb
, the University of Michigan accelerator for student start-ups. The presence of TechArb as a neighbor was a definite factor in Menlo's choice of a new home. Sheridan adds, "I'm teaching an entrepreneurship practicum right now at [U-M] and some of my students are actually in that space right now, so I think this is a nice mixing of town and gown, if you will."
Source: Rich Sheridan, president and founder of Menlo Innovations
Writer: Tanya Muzumdar