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This isn’t an easy decision for Alex Villafranca.
Arbeit Software’s co-founder and CEO was heavily involved in the 2018 decision to acquire the building at 678 Sheridan Drive, and he personally worked with contractors as they turned it into a modern tech headquarters. Arbeit builds technology for the collections industry.
But as the Covid-19 pandemic raged over the past 12 months, the company’s work-from-home productivity has at least kept pace with the old days in the office.
And through employee surveys, it was clear the consensus was that people felt neither compelled nor particularly comfortable to come back.
So Villafranca and the rest of Arbeit’s leadership team decided to sell the building and make the complete transition to remote working.
“I love that building,” Villafranca said. “It’s an extremely difficult decision for me. But nobody wants to go back to the office five days a week, the leadership team included.”
Villafranca said some in-person interaction could return in the form of weekly gatherings at co-working spaces. But that is a different proposition than holding a building that costs $150,000 a year between the mortgage, taxes and utilities.
Arbeit acquired the building for $360,000 and poured tens of thousands into renovations. It is listed with Pyramid Brokerage for $749,000, and Villafranca said his real estate agent has reported strong interest.
Arbeit’s business took a hit last year with the pandemic, but it decided not to lay off anyone and still has 19 employees in Buffalo plus a team in Brazil. The company received a $296,050 Paycheck Protection Program loan through Bank of America on April 30, and is hoping to qualify for a second PPP loan this year.
Villafranca said none of Arbeit’s co-founders have taken a salary over the past six months as they focus on reinvesting into a business they still believe has a bright future.
The company has been developing a singular platform for collections agencies to contact individuals, which is a more holistic solution than the auto-dialer software that fueled Arbeit’s initial growth.
“We’re fully confident that we are going to recover, and we are actively investing in big projects,” Villafranca said.