PORTLAND, Maine — One of Maine’s fastest-growing companies is growing up, and doing it in style.
CashStar, which manages digital gift card systems for major retailers like Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts, moved into new Old Port offices in October, growing its footprint in the city by more than 50 percent and consolidating from three separate offices that CEO Ben Kaplan said left no room to expand.
“It was great for the early days,” Kaplan said. “But as we’ve grown very fast, we were constantly pressed for space.”
Shortly after Kaplan took the helm of the company about a year ago, CashStar grabbed a second office and later a third, accommodating its growth in the market for digital gift cards but leaving the company split across two buildings.
“We had successes and worked through it, but I think that it’s benefitting everyone in the company to be in an integrated building with a really open floor plan,” Kaplan said.
It’s not evident that the old offices had held back the company that ranked 103 on Inc. magazine’s list of the fastest-growing companies in 2013, growing revenue from $1.8 million in 2010 to $15.8 million three years later. Kaplan said he anticipates the company will set a new revenue record — an undisclosed amount — this year. And the new digs should help that growth.
“The move to this new space has been rejuvenating and it has been a real boost to the company,” Kaplan said.
Kaplan said he expects at least a 50 percent rise in the value of gift cards people have purchased through CashStar’s platform, up to around $750 million from more than $500 million last year. Consultants CEB TowerGroup estimated the total digital gift card market at $3 billion in 2013
In total, CashStar has more than doubled its footprint in Portland in the last year, from about 11,000 square feet to 22,500 square feet at 25 Pearl St., a location Kaplan expects will sustain the company for at least another three to four years.
“As we grow, there may be a need to look into having some regional offices, and headquarters in this office space would easily support 175 people or more,” Kaplan said.
The company’s given a hint about where those regional offices might be in naming its conference rooms after its key markets — Seattle, Atlanta, San Francisco — but Kaplan said being located in Portland is an asset.
That’s partly because CashStar is joined by other companies in the payment processing and financial services industry, including international payment processor WEX, PowerPay and BlueTarp Financial.
“There’s a lot of talent in Portland, but there’s also a cluster of companies with roots in payments, which attract talent and serve as interesting companies to potentially hire from as well,” Kaplan said.
The company employs about 115 people and will bring on another 10 to 20 seasonal employees for the holiday surge in retail sales. That annual expansion would have been a challenge in the previous offices that had little room to reconfigure work spaces for seasonal work or to allow teams to form around certain projects, Kaplan said.
The five- to six-month preparation for the move itself involved some reconfiguration, taking out the mahogany and beige interior of former law firm tenants Friedman Gaythwaite Wolf and stripping the building down to the studs before remodeling.
“We tried to balance the investments with what would be a great work environment,” Kaplan said. “I’d rather hire an additional engineer or sales rep than go overboard on desks and a kitchen, but it’s important that we have a modern, functional, positive work environment.”
Beyond the practical features, Kaplan said the new open-format office gives each division of the previously tripartite company space to collaborate, whether over a game of foosball or ping pong or in one of many brightly colored nooks, which have two opposing bench seats, a small table and a clear plastic whiteboard to cater to informal meetings.
“There’s much more face-to-face conversation and collaboration,” Kaplan said.
The company previously was without a full kitchen or amenities like showers that, in the warmer months, catered to employees taking a run or bike ride to break up the work day.
The new office also doubles the company’s conference room space, with each glass-walled meeting space located along the exterior walls, which open the generally south-facing office to natural light through the day.
“We wanted to make sure that it was really bright and airy and open,” Kaplan said.
And the company ensured it had close control over the feel of the new space, putting its director of customer care and risk operations, Liam Somers, in charge of the build-out.
While the new offices aim to breed collaboration and new ideas, there’s some areas where Kaplan said he won’t budge.
“I’m all pong and no foosball,” Kaplan said outside of the company’s new recreation room. “I’m 100 percent pong-based.”