Open Systems Technology is preparing to occupy renovated landmark on Grand Rapids' West Side

By Sharon Hanks

The Drueke Building, a century-old WestSide landmark fallen in disrepair years ago, is being transformed into high-tech playground for its new namesake and anchor tenant, Open Systems Technologies (OST).

Dan Behm, OST president, expects to move into its new headquarters on the northwest corner of Third Street and Seward Avenue NW in mid-May or June, setting the stage to add more skilled employees to its current workforce of 53. "It's impossible to guess, but it could be 15 more people over the next 12 months, or maybe 10 to 25," Behm says. The company also employs 12 full-time contractors.

"We love Michigan and we're trying to find ways to add employees here," Behm says. He anticipates sales to nearly double from $34 million last year to $60 million by 2011.

OST and the family of Robert Israels who owns the building have breathed fresh life into the three-story building with such "way over-the-top" amenities as a fireplace, a galley kitchen with stools, a seating nook, employee exercise room, 16-foot-high ceilings, library and a rooftop deck, Behm says.

It will also boast a clock tower and new lettering on the freshly laid red-brick exterior, rechristening the building as "OST". "We want it to be a special building," Behm says, noting the expertise of Lisa Keller Designs was tapped to "make it feel more like home."

The company's leased space in the Brass Works Building, 648 Monroe Ave. NW is nearing the end of its 12-year designation as a Michigan Renaissance Zone, where owners and tenants pay virtually no state or local income taxes.

The Drueke building, on the other hand, a former game company and casket factory, offers more space and was recently granted a 12-year extension of that status, awarding its owner and tenants the same tax benefits.

OST will occupy the first and second floors, each with 10,000 square feet, and has an option for 5,000 square feet on the third-floor.

Driving about 45 percent of the business is the fast-growing health care industry, Behm says, noting OST focuses on eight "practices" and has clients all over the world.

A big income generator is the implementation of a software called EPIC that's widely used in hospitals and physician groups. OST also conducts security assessments for community banks, credit unions and hospitals, offers support services for computer servers and consults on enterprise resource planning (ERP) and information planning.

Source: Dan Behm, president of Open Systems Technologies, Grand Rapids

Sharon Hanks is innovations and jobs news editor at Rapid Growth Media. Please send story ideas and comments for the column to Sharon at [email protected] She also is owner of The Write Words in Grand Rapids.
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