By Christina Johnson |
HOLMDEL – On Monday, a wave of 650 new employees began reporting for work at the newly reinvigorated Bell Works campus at 101 Crawfords Corner Road. They are part of the staff of the rapidly-growing tech firm iCIMS, an enterprise software company focused on recruitment solutions, formerly based in Matawan.
The youthful company gathered to get their first look at their new modern, stylish workspaces. Sporting their company’s red t-shirts, they sipped Italian organic sparkling wine from plastic flutes awaiting the big reveal.
“I can’t say how excited I am,” CEO Colin Day of Middletown told them. “This is not a destination. This is not a sign that we’ve made it. We’ve got a long, long way to go. This is a launching pad. This is where we start the next leg of our journey together, and we’ve got a lot of growing to do.” His children, 7-year old Oliver and 6-year old Ella enthusiastically helped him cut the ceremonial ribbon to cheers and applause.
Anchor tenant iCIMS (pronounced eye-sims) is now the company with the largest headcount at the formerly vacant Bell Works, a place that is rapidly being transformed by Somerset Development into a “metroburb” and hub for tech companies. To date the 2-million-square-foot building is 90 percent leased. Companies like Guardian Life Insurance, IFF Creative, NVIDIA, Vydia, WorkWave, JCP&L, Comcast and Symbolic IO are taking offices, and there are smaller companies and entrepreneurs sharing workspaces.
With iCIMS’ arrival, the east side of the vast Bell Works parking lot is filling out, the line at the coffee café line has grown longer and a previously vacant section of the building off the east atrium is now buzzing.
But the company that began its story in a former dentist’s office in Hazlet is not stopping at 650 employees. iCIMS has plans to add 118 workers in 2018 to its 190,000-square-foot decorated space, and can potentially grow to accommodate 2,000 workers in its leased 350,000-square-foot tower.
Coming to their corporate neighborhood will be a gym, a Holmdel Montessori school, a Booskerdoo sit-down café and the township library. In the future, Bell Works hopes to have a dry cleaner, a wine bar, an urgent care facility, a hair salon and a hotel. Everywhere you look, workers in hardhats are busy creating new spaces.
The iCIMS keycard-secured offices are as sleek and modern as an Apple store. But they were also designed to remind workers of the building’s revered roots as architect Eero Saarinen’s original design, the home of Bell Labs innovation. The iCIMS offices proudly display their original 1960s cement beams, historic egg-crate ceiling tile and glass-and-steel-inspired design to carry on the mid-century modern aesthetic. Saarinen’s “womb-style” chairs are on order for seating areas.
But unlike the Bell Labs design, the new offices are guided by the values of open collaboration. “Colin said make it the coolest place to work, but make it that ‘work’ is the operative word,” said Len Carella, iCIMS vice president of infrastructure shared services. At iCIMS, employees report for a 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. workday with a one-hour lunch, and are not encouraged to work overtime and weekends, said Carella, so their time together must be used efficiently.
Since iCIMS signed its 15-year lease in July, 2016, Carella has been working with iCIMS designer Deb Walsh to create the open environment, profit from all the natural light, and also to create dozens of custom private spaces for candidate interviews, conference calls and training behind frosted glass.
Presently, about 25 customers visit iCIMS every two weeks for a three-day training session. That is expected to accelerate to 25 customers weekly in the new space, said Carella.
For a “wow factor,” the designers built in pops of color, employed dramatic panes of etched glass and hung enormous high-def screens on the ground floor to welcome clients and potential new hires.
Downstairs, where the account management, marketing, labs and brand teams work, they’ve installed the company’s huge illuminated icon, a red bird dubbed Ike that was posted on their former high rise building.
For warmth, there are light, hardwood floors in some places. The boardroom seats 24 at a huge modern walnut conference table in a room with a glass wall looking out on landscaped grounds bursting in reds and orange fall foliage. And here and there are intimate booths built into passageways, for quick conversations.
Workers’ desks are set apart with low partitions of frosted glass, with access to nearby privacy rooms for phone calls and huddles. Allowing adjoining desk space for the annual crop of interns, of which there were 50 last year, is also accommodated. The company has its own restrooms, a presentation space downstairs and cafeterias on every floor.
One of the most treasured places for c-suite conversation will likely be the custom outdoor patio that iCIMS negotiated, a place to have a cocktail when the sun sets and talk over the future. For employees, there are plans for “Ike Bikes,” in the spring. Employees will be able to unlock a company bike for a cruise along the historic ring roads surrounding Bell Works.
This article was first published in the Nov. 23-30, 2017 print edition of The Two River Times.
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