Above the storefronts and restaurants that dot Richmond Ave you’ll find a healthy mix of entrepreneurs and businesses who also call Westboro home. Westboro offers an attractive, centrally located, neighbourhood for innovative office spaces. We met with five local businesses and asked them why they chose Westboro as their HQ. Take a look!
GGFL Chartered Professional Accountants provides financial services for some of Ottawa’s most influential business owners, entrepreneurs, and high net worth individuals. Operating for over 72 years, and nearly 60 in Westboro, they employ over 100 accounting professionals and support staff.
“I feel the location definitely benefits the business. Being in a popular neighbourhood, where the majority of businesses are owned by entrepreneurs is a good match with GGFL’s own values” Says Deborah Bourchier, Partner at GGFL.
There are a number of things to love about the neighbourhood, including the ability to have clients drop-in, “they love to come and have lunch, meet, do business over coffee; or to stay for a drink after work. Being in a popular area in Ottawa, means people want to come. I can’t tell you how many times I meet with someone who is on their way to MEC, or Bushtukah, just because they’re in the neighbourhood” adds Bourchier.
GGFL staff love the office, which spans the entire top half of their building (located at 287 Richmond Rd), and its close access to food, multiple bus lines, cycling, walking, and shopping.
It seems fitting that marketing and strategy firm, Karma Darma, made their HQ Westboro. The industry hinges on its ability to meet client demands, so in Founder and CEO Peter Georgariou’s opinion it helps that the “people that I talk to love to come and walk in the area. They’ll come for dinner; come for drinks and feel safe; feel nice– and I hate to say it, feel trendy.” When asked about how he feels about the year that his firm has spent working in Westboro, Peter jokes “I feel cooler than I did the previous year, my cool factor is through the roof!”
He described his exit from the stiff corporate office environment led to how they came to find their current space. The small office houses a staff of 6 and is a far cry from anything that could be described as corporate. The office bright, uncluttered, and filled with accent touches (like vintage industrial hardwood sliding office doors). His staff are friendly and inviting, and the overall feel of the office is relaxed, but professional. “I walk into this office every day and I feel at home. Even when I drive into the neighbourhood. I like the feel of the building … it’s got a lot of character. I think it’s just a very warm place.”
Industrial builds and designs websites largely in the not-for-profit sector and recently-launched their start-up, Wicket, in association management software. Run by husband and wife duo Jeff Horne and Laura Mindorff, they will be celebrating their office’s 5th anniversary in Westboro. Everything in the office is a reflection of their company aesthetic: the exposed duct-work; the metal-lighting; and the raw metal finishes—it’s Industrial-looking.
In addition to their 11 employees “we have a lot of clients that come in and out of here all the time. They like to get out of their office space and come somewhere that’s an inspiring neighbourhood. It’s attracted a lot of great employees over the years as well. We’ve got some staff who also live in Westboro and they’ll walk or ride their bikes to work every day, which is amazing,” says Mindorff.
It all contributes to a fruitful environment for the growing company.
Founded in 1997 by President and COO Paul Vallée, describes Pythian as a tech-enabled services that help their clients leverage data. “That means playing defense with data-security, data-governance, availability and performance. It also means offense: unlocking the power of data to win…”. He uses the following analogy to describe his company’s position: “data is the new oil or data is the new gold”, but unlike gold “just because you have it, [doesn’t mean] it’s going to automatically help you”.
Employing some 170 people in Ottawa, Pythian also employs a total of 385 people located all over the globe—but a strong remote workforce didn’t rule out the need for a headquarters. Additionally, Vallée adds in jest, having his company name on a physical building “was a life goal.”
A variety of factors led the company to settle on Westboro: “We wanted it to be easily accessible from the highway and easily accessible from the transit way; we wanted there to be parking available; we wanted it to be ideal.” A deciding factor was the neighbourhood’s community feel: “this is really a little town in the middle of the city and it’s charming … there’s a lot of goodness going on here. I think it’s a winner.”
Explaining Xactly’s move to Westboro, co-founder Denis Sabourin cites that as a “higher-end, boutique ad agency, I think the neighbourhood just suits us better.” The advantages of the location don’t end there for the ad agency that sits perched above Ottawa’s staple Ms Tiggy Winkles. According to Sabourin it also has an impact on recruiting “when we need to fill in a position we get a lot more folk interested than we did when we were in the east end.” It also doesn’t hurt, he adds, that Westboro is renowned for being “hip and all that fun stuff”.
Xactly Design & Advertising is 15 years old and approaching their third anniversary of operating out of Westboro, where they employ 19 designers full-time out of their chic brick-lined loft. The neighbourhood also has an impact on the staff’s work/life balance: “It’s your health-life too… I go to Greco [Fitness]; I go to Pure Yoga; and I can go on my lunch or right after work then walk home.” He elaborates, “one of the main reasons we moved to Westboro: I lived in New York City for a while and I just love the lifestyle there. Just getting out and walking wherever you need to go.”