By Sue Minichiello
As of January 2013, the three divisions of AffinEco–Premier Maintenance, United Services and Melillo Maintenance–will be housed under one roof in a new headquarters at 855 Main Street in Bridgeport, Connecticut. The move signifies a streamlining of the company’s administration as well as an important gain for the Bridgeport business community and local economy.
“We are very much looking forward to moving into our new headquarters and uniting all our back-office functions in one primary location. It will help us function more cost-effectively. We will keep our operations in the field, but this move consolidates many other aspects of our team,” said Premier Maintenance President Michael Diamond. “We also look forward to joining the downtown Bridgeport business community and contributing to the city’s economic turnaround.”
Bridgeport is the most populous city in Connecticut and the fifth largest city in New England. But the city has suffered stubborn unemployment. Still, Bridgeport Regional Business Council (BRBC) President and CEO Paul Timpanelli sees AffinEco’s move as one of several indications that things are changing for the better.
“AffinEco’s decision to relocate to Bridgeport is indicative of a trend of more businesses moving into the city than moving out, which is a reversal of what was happening here a few years ago. In the past month alone, we’ve been engaged with five companies planning to move to here,” said Timpanelli. “When the leadership of a business decides to reach into its pocket and make a personal investment in the city, it’s a show of faith in Bridgeport’s economic future and confidence in opportunities here. And that is a vital signal to the community that we’re turning things around–that the city is on the rise.”
Several advantages for the city are inherent in AffinEco’s move: The company will occupy significant previously vacant office space, pay municipal taxes and transfer its banking business to the Bridgeport Center Branch of People’s United Bank, also headquartered in the city.
“The significance of a business taking up shop in Bridgeport involves more than the number of jobs and increased tax revenue,” Timpanelli said. “It’s also about the ancillary business impact, such as opening a local bank account and establishing relationships with local vendors. For example, every one hundred jobs coming into a city can create about $6 million in bank deposits, which means more revenue circulation in the community, additional loans and so on.”
In addition to helping the city, AffinEco’s centralization of administration will improve the company’s business functions across the board and benefit customers. Having all three divisions in a single location will boost efficiencies in communication and management. For example, managers will be able to more effectively apportion workloads within administrative departments; more staff will be available to field client inquiries and issues; staff members will be able to communicate more directly with one another; and departmental meetings will be centralized, reducing duplicate discussions and travel.
“When we’re all together, the whole business will be easier to manage,” said AffinEco CFO Gabor Elcsics. “Plus, we’ll be pulling the best of our different procedures into one successful model, applying the most efficient and valuable systems to all three divisions.”
Just steps from the Bridgeport Metro-North train station and I-95, 855 Main Street is located in the heart of downtown Bridgeport directly between the current People’s United Bank headquarters and Housatonic Community College. From its construction in 1966 until 1989, the property served as headquarters for People’s Bank (now People’s United Bank). When People’s moved across the street, it leased the building to Southern Connecticut Gas. In 2008, Main State Ventures–a partnership between Forstone Capital and Spinnaker Real Estate Partners–purchased the building from People’s. Since then, it has undergone numerous improvement projects including a major lobby renovation and multiple parking garage upgrades.
Sustainability is a cornerstone of Forstone Capital’s approach to commercial real estate, so it’s no surprise that the firm has instituted “green” advancements and updates at the nearly 50-year-old property. A new energy efficient lighting system throughout 855 Main Street is estimated to save about 413,600 kilowatt hours annually. A Web-based energy management system monitors and regulates the boilers, cooling towers and makeup air units. It provides optimal start, night setback/setup, temperature and occupancy schedules to ensure efficient operation throughout the building at all times. These energy-conscious measures will reduce the building’s carbon dioxide emissions by nearly 600,000 pounds each year, equivalent to adding 82 acres of forest or removing 52 cars from the road per year.
“Being a high-quality and green-conscious company, AffinEco is a great fit for our recently upgraded and energy efficient building. We began updating and renovating 855 Main after acquisition with the hopes of attracting quality tenants like AffinEco,” said Brandon Hall, Forstone Capital Principal. “Having companies like AffinEco in downtown Bridgeport hopefully will attract more top-notch businesses to the area. Signing a lease with them is a good sign for the future of downtown, and we are excited to have them at 855 Main.”
AffinEco will occupy the 9th floor (7,400 square feet) of the 11-story 100,000 square-foot mixed-use building as well as nearly 2,100 square feet of storage space in the basement. The company leadership is pleased that building improvements included environmentally friendly initiatives in line with its own longstanding and industry-leading green practices.
“In our search for a new headquarters location, we wanted to find a building with green attributes and an environmentally-conscious property owner. With 855 Main Street, we achieved both of these goals,” United Services President Paul Senecal said. “We also tried to be as green as possible in our build out by reusing as many existing walls, doors, furniture, lights, etcetera as we could and looking at the ‘pre-owned’ furniture market to fill in the blanks. The bonus was that these efforts saved us some real money.”
Image courtesy of Forstone Capital