AvantGuard Monitoring Modernizes Utah HQ, Central Station
Ogden, Utah-based AvantGuard Monitoring reopened its doors to the renovated facility during its PERS Summit 2017 event, showing off office aesthetics aimed at drawing college workers, plus its expanded datacenter capacity and other benefits.
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Getting young people to explore a possible career in the security and life-safety industry has been a common concern of late. The folks at AvantGuard Monitoring know they have a great potential recruiting resource just up the street from their headquarters and call center, as the Ogden, Utah-based company is situated a stone’s throw from Weber State University’s campus.
The proximity (stunning mountain vistas don’t hurt too), and hope to attract today’s younger generation of workers in general, was a key driver behind the monitoring provider’s recent office overhaul.
AvantGuard unveiled the renovated three-story, UL-Listed and Monitoring Association Five Diamond-certified facility in conjunction with PERS Summit 2017, which it hosted in nearby Park City Sept. 26-28.
“We hire a lot of college students and we wanted it to be a place where they walk in and even from a job interview standpoint say, ‘Wow, this is a place where I can see myself working.’ It looks modern; they care about open spaces, it’s not just thrown together or low-cost,” says AvantGuard President and COO Justin Bailey. “We want to be able to attract that young talent — we have a great culture and we wanted our facility to match that.”
Bailey spoke to SSI at one of the dining tables in AvantGuard’s new break room, seated next to some freshly planted vegetation and near the ping-pong table — just a couple of the finishing touches that add to the appeal of the space. Part of the renovation’s objective was to foster even more of community feel to a workplace where togetherness is emphasized.
“This is ‘the’ breakroom, so administrative staff has lunch here, all central station employees have breaks here. We wanted to just keep building that family,” Bailey says. “We used to have break room for the operators, a break room for the admin staff. This brings it all together.”
The break room was outfitted with additional details like USB charging outlets on the wall and under the tables as a necessity for today’s generation of employees, Bailey notes. Plus every workstation now features desks that can raise or lower so employees can stand or sit when they want, as has become a corporate office trend.
For a fun little detail, huddle rooms now sport themed names, like those of Utah-based national parks on one floor and local ski slopes on another, elegantly etched into the glass entryways.
Overall the renovation project took about 10 months to complete, Bailey estimates. The project was fueled by AvantGuard CEO Josh Garner, he says, and was the next step in a progression that saw the company move into the building back in 2010 as a tenant; slowly take over more suites as it grew, occupying the main-level and bottom floors; purchase it in 2014 but leasing space to other companies upstairs; and then become sole occupant as those leases came up at the end of 2015, with an eye on the overhaul being done in time for the biannual PERS Summit (last held in fall 2015).
“Most of the design was really driven by Josh, he’d spend 4-5 hours a day in all this getting it ready, making the decisions, overseeing the project,” says Bailey. “This is the fourth PERS Summit we’ve done and the tour has always been a part of it. In the past, we’ve really wanted [Summit attendees] to come meet our people, what makes us unique. So now the building’s another perk, this great space to take care of our people.”
Bailey adds that he wished PERS Summit attendees could also visit AvantGuard’s Rexburg, Idaho, monitoring center as well, which is a three-hour drive to the north and where the company’s PERS operators work.
The Ogden central station is fully redundant with Rexburg; both employ a mix of roughly 100 full- and part-time operators to fill 48-seat central stations, and that redundancy was crucial during the two-phase renovation that included moving Ogden’s fire/burg monitoring center from the bottom to the top floor.
With its tenants gone, the top floor was the first one to be gutted and remodeled, after which essentially all of AvantGuard’s departments — marketing, IT, human resources — needed to share space in the call center upstairs as the project shifted to the two floors beneath. About four weeks prior to PERS Summit, the company moved its servers, networking equipment and original rack structure as part of a datacenter expansion downstairs.
“It’s in the same room as it was, but we added essentially double the capacity. We took our Ogden facility dark for about six hours to re-rack all the equipment and update to our current infrastructure,” Bailey explains. “We can take all of our signaling and go through Rexburg or Ogden. We had two hours where we took no calls at all here, and about six total hours where all the alarms started in Rexburg and were fed over WAN [wide area network] to be processed here. That’s the beauty of redundancy.”
Additionally, moving the call center played into AvantGuard’s design plan to focus on natural light’s role in uplifting the office environment. UL codes prevent a central station from having windows unless it’s 18 feet or higher off the ground, Bailey notes, and on the side of the building in which it’s located, the call center’s windows meet the requirement and the light shines in.
“In the old style, traditional office where you had offices around the perimeter they got the daylight and the cubes in the middle got what they got. So the biggest emphasis was, we want daylight for all of our team,” Bailey says.
Make sure to view the slideshow above for a glance at AvantGuard’s modernized HQ.
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