OST expands collaborative workspace; attracts employees, clients to Grand Rapids' growing West Side

A 5,000-square-foot expansion within the historic Drueke Company warehouse (605 Seward Ave. NW) is spurring a lot of activity on Grand Rapids' West Side, an area of town enjoying a surge of development.

OST (Open Systems Technologies) recently expanded its operations into space adjoining its existing 15,000-square-foot offices.

Lofty 18-ft. ceilings, expanses of canary yellow walls tempered with gray and black, and a number of huge flat screen TVs surround 34 "benching" (collaborative) work areas dotted with laptops and flat screen monitors. Small four-person conference rooms line one wall. Over a dozen IT developers work quietly in groups of four or five, some glance occasionally at the sports news on TV; another three developers work alone, wearing earbuds.

"Technology is transforming quickly and, as our clients become more sophisticated, they're asking to be more innovative and connected with their clients," says Meredith Bronk, COO. "There is a lot of collaboration, and a lot of team orientation, so creating a space that really fostered the absolute advantage was just an opportunity we couldn't pass up."

Marketing Manager Mike Lomonaco adds that many client groups, including several from client Johnson Controls, call OST home.

"How many other businesses have their clients working in their space?" Lomonaco asks. "We could do conference calls, but the quality of the solutions is so much better and we develop relationships."

In 2010, OST had 49 employees; today there are 114, plus 60 contract employees. Ten new employees have come aboard recently. The result of this influx of employees, clients, and client teams means West Side restaurants, pubs, and the nearby Fifth Street Hall have new customers.

"If we can be a part of that resurgence that Bob Israels started several years ago, and if we can be a part of extending that vision," Lomonaco says, "that's what we want to do."

Source: Meredith Bronk, Mike Lomonaco, OST
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor
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