Wait, I thought Vari was a desk company? Well, it is, and a whole lot more. In fact, I toured their spaces this week. Listen to the podcast to hear all about it!
I met Jason McCann, the CEO, this week. We didn’t talk about the founding of the company, but I had already done a little research. One of his partners used to have to stand during some meetings because his back hurt if he sat too long. That same partner put a box on his desk to raise his computer monitor as well as a smaller box to raise the keyboard. Vari ordered sit/stand desks that were already on the market, but they came in huge boxes and then they had to do the assembly which was a major pain. That was the inspiration for creating the first VariDesk which was a fully-assembled device that sat on top of a normal desk and could be raised or lowered at will. That became the company name as well. As the product took off, VariDesk had to get its own space separate from the company which it grew out of. As they set up the office, they realized that there were a lot of things in the office that needed to be improved and innovated. Much of this was for their own use, but also came through customers asking for new things. Such as, fully adjustable desks; chairs; lighting; phone booths; monitor stands; couches; other office furniture and even movable walls.
Vari wanted to foster an atmosphere where team members interacted with each other often and openly. What they wanted turned out to be what a lot of their customers wanted as well. Their growth is amazing-Jason told me this week that they ship to 30 countries now and have showrooms in a dozen cities in the U.S.
So, now, how does a furniture manufacturer become a landlord? Jason said that his partner, yes, the guy with the bad back, called him one day and said he found a building they should buy. It was the old Zales building In Las Colinas. They bought it and outfitted it grandly – fitness center, conference centers, outdoor parks, food service, coffee bars and kitchens. In touring this space and their other one in Southlake I saw things that were different from any other landlord – Vari will build out the tenant’s space with movable walls, furniture, etc. Then they will come back 90 days after move in to see if the tenant would like anything tweaked. Then they will come back every 12 months, for the term of the lease, and do any desired tweaking the tenant wishes. Talk about flexibility and adaptability!
Because all of Vari’s products are fully mobile, they can be reconfigured quickly at any time. Their wall panels take only 2 minutes to disassemble or reassemble. When Covid hit last year, Vari sent all their people to work from home like most other companies. But then they realized they could easily reconfigure their offices to comply with CDC guidelines and they had their offices back up and running within weeks. The actual reconfiguration only took a weekend. Any company that uses Vari products, whether they are in a VariSpace or any other office building can do the same.
VariSpace will be breaking ground this year on their first ever ground-up new building construction. It will be the HQ for Vari, but will also have over 150,000 square feet for lease. They are closely focused on the cost of construction and how much they can save when building a new building from the ground up instead of retrofitting an older building. If they can get savings in the initial construction on top of savings through use of the products instead of traditional office interiors, I guaranty they will build more VariSpace locations around the country.
Bob Gibbons is a Real Estate Advisor & Tenant Advocate (also known as a tenant rep) with REATA Commercial Realty, Inc. which is a tenant advisory firm based in Plano, Texas. Bob serves companies in Plano, Frisco, McKinney, Allen, Richardson, Addison, Dallas and the surrounding areas and specializes in companies which lease or buy office and warehouse properties.