ST. GEORGE — As the COVID-19 pandemic compelled many non-essential workers across the country to shelter at home, some tech companies, like SoundCommerce and Credit Karma, decided to let their office leases expire to prepare for an indefinite period of remote work.
PrinterLogic CEO Ryan Wedig, whose new 60,000 square-foot office on Tech Ridge was being built then, didn’t even consider such a measure. Though some companies are saving money that way, Wedig dismissed the approach as short-sighted.
“At some point the efficiency gains that come with working from home will give way to losses in the long run,” said Wedig, sitting in a sleek, minimalist corner office on the top floor of the Vasion building. “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been playing ping pong with someone, and it’ll be like, ‘idea, idea, idea…’ And that leads to a whiteboard session.”
It’s the whiteboard sessions that helped Wedig build Vasion, formerly PrinterLogic, from a niche start-up with five employees into what it is today: A multinational company with over 200 employees. With their global headquarters on Tech Ridge nearly complete, Wedig said he felt a change of names was also timely.
“When we started, we had five employees,” Wedig said. “We had room for 20, and we were wondering how to fill the space. It’s interesting how these things work. If you have space, you tend to fill it.”
And that’s just what Vasion is doing: Filling their office space, which boasts basketball, volleyball and pickleball courts, along with an array of other amenities, with people. The amenities are meant to inspire creativity.
“When you’re dealing with creatives, you have to create a space that unlocks their creativity,” Wedig said. “You can’t collaborate if you’re locked in a cubicle. Our inventory is inside people’s heads.”
There’s markers and whiteboards throughout the Vasion building, which, apart from bunches of desks and chairs, is mostly made up of open spaces. People are meant to come together here to exchange ideas.
“People work best when in person,” Wedig said. “Creativity doesn’t live in a Zoom meeting.”
Vasion hosted a number of events Monday, including break-out sessions and a dinner, to encourage people to come to their space and create. During the open house, guests wore masks and followed social distancing guidelines with chair-spacing, and those who couldn’t make it in-person were invited to participate virtually.
“You could feel it,” Wedig said. “There’s so much loneliness and longing. People are starved to be together.”
When asked why he chose St. George for Vasion’s home base, Wedig, who had been measured and soft-spoken to that point, became more animated.
“We’re a St. George company,” he said. “I’ve lived in Silicon Valley, Washington D.C. I know what’s out there. We’ve got something special right here.”
In addition to the beautiful landscape, warm weather and abundant outdoor activities, Wedig said the pioneer spirit is still alive.
“I love how gritty the typical St. George entrepreneur is,” he said. “People said I’d eventually have to leave, but I don’t think so. We have such a unique opportunity here and the talent pool to make it happen.”
Wedig said he’s never seen St. George as another Silicon Valley, nor does he think the tech sector should try to emulate it.
“I’ve never understood people who want to be like other innovators by imitating them,” he said. “We don’t want to see a guns-for-hire rat-race here. Why be the next Silicon Valley when we can be the first St. George?”
Tech Ridge seems to be just the place to do that. As a master planned community, planners, builders, investors and everyone involved has taken great care in ensuring that things are just so.
“This is a tech garden,” he said. “We can build it into whatever we want.”
With Vasion’s rebranding and grand opening, Wedig and company are feeling accomplished. After all, they’ve made it through the most difficult part of the process.
“Most people quit projects 90% of the way through,” he said. “The last 10% is always the hardest. But that’s the St. George mentality: Push through, get it done.”
With the space completed, Wedig and company can fill it.
“When people are ready to come outside again, we’ll be here waiting for the best of the best to come join us,” Wedig said.
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