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Pearl Garage enters 21st century

Peer 1 Hosting balances fun and productivity

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The former Pearl Garage has undergone a major overhaul as Peer 1 Hosting turned the former home of the Aveda Institute into a model for 21st century workplaces.

A giant glass and steel garage door still rolls up and down inside the former Pearl garage, along with a vintage Pearl vanette delivery truck. The homage to the past is the only pre-21st century aspect of the new home of Peer 1 Hosting, an international hosting and cloud server company with just over 100 employees in their San Antonio office.

"It perfectly fits with our office standards that we established worldwide, meaning we took all of the employees from the top to the bottom out of an office and ideally everyone sits in an open work environment," said Robert Miggins, senior vice president of business development. "If you need to get on a headset, and take your laptop and jump in a meeting room, one-on-one or have an interview or small team meeting, there's ample opportunity to do that close by."

The roughly 25,000-square-foot space has very few walls that go from the floor to the ceiling, which sits more than 20 feet above the ground. 

Many of the desks are in open areas; a few focus rooms enclosed by four glass and steel walls but no ceilings sit around the space for privacy. 

"Having a space like this allows employees to interact a lot more freely, quickly and be able to turn things around and problem solve for customers, or communicate issues or get the information back to the customer in a quicker response time," said Dax Moreno, director of North America sales.

Aside from the vanette that doubles as a unique meeting space, a game room with ping pong, foosball and Battle Pac-Man sits inside the space.

Fun and play is one of the company's core values and one they believe can be achieved along with increased productivity.

"We have a very strong social committee and community aspect to what we do here, so we definitely want our employees to understand that it's not just about the work but it's about the people we work, with and the space and community that we're working within," said Moreno.

"Some of our employees have moved nearby. They now walk to work. There's so much more to it than just what we were specifically looking for," added Miggins.

A Forbes.com article released Thursday ranked San Antonio No. 1 in the country for having the highest percentage increase of college graduates relocating to the city, with a 20 percent growth over the last five years.

A growing food and nightlife scene were the biggest reasons, but Miggins believes more enticing 21st century workspaces will also make a big difference.

"We think that this building is going to put us on the map in a much more visible way," said Miggins. "Even two weeks in we're already seeing a lot of interest in open job postings that we have for San Antonio."

"That's exactly what we're going for," added Moreno. "We wanted to design a place that was a destination, so when people come to work we didn't want them to feel like they were punching a clock. This is a place where you can work with friends, invite your friends to come work with us and do other things outside of it."

The company currently has about 100 employees and expects to grow by 10 to 15 percent over the next year. The space can hold more than 160 employees under its current layout.