TAMPA — Ybor City has long been known for its nightlife, but the historic district has more office space than many people realize, and that's been growing with the arrivals of multinational companies like Ashley Global Retail and TransferWise.
To this list add Masonite International, a publicly traded door manufacturer based in Tampa. Masonite formally launched construction Thursday on a new 56,000-square-foot headquarters building expected to open in early 2020.
Masonite's corporate headquarters are currently spread across three floors in the One Tampa City Center tower on N Franklin Street. But CEO Fred Lynch said Ybor City was a natural fit.
"You think about Masonsite: We're a building products company," Lynch said at a ceremony marking the start of construction on the $14 million project. "We're a design company. Being at the heart of a community that was built on historic architecture and design just felt like it was the right place to be."
Masonite opened a digital design center for about 80 employees two years ago at 1205 E Fifth Ave. in Ybor. Its new corporate headquarters will be across the street on E Sixth Avenue. Alliant Partners of Tampa is developing the building in partnership with Ybor City investor Darryl Shaw, and Masonite will lease it when it's complete.
Masonite, which has a market capitalization of $1.4 billion, has 10,000 employees with operations on four continents. In 2004, it moved its corporate headquarters from Toronto to Tampa, where it has 400 employees with an annual payroll of $55 million. It also has manufacturing plants with another 150 employees in Largo and Brandon.
A company mantra is "we help people walk through walls," and Lynch said that mission extends to the design of the new headquarters. Like pharmaceutical giant Amgen in West Shore, it is creating an open floor plan to promote creativity and employee collaboration. Before opening its digital design center, Masonite executives and their design team went to Silicon Valley to tour work spaces at companies like eBay, Instagram, LinkedIn and Facebook.
In the new building, not even Lynch will have a private office. The digital design center in Ybor City already has the less-traditional design with an informal feel.
"The employees that have moved from our downtown traditional office space into these spaces will tell you that their meeting time has been cut down dramatically because they literally stand up and do huddles and small scrums and group meetings 10 or 15 minutes long where they'll just stand together, be able to collaborate on an idea and go back to work," Lynch said. "We have found that type of creative collaboration makes for a much more effective workforce and, quite frankly, I think a more engaged and happier workforce."
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Contact Richard Danielson at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3403. Follow @Danielson_Times