New Offices Receive a Green Remodel for Mortgage Industry Technology Leader
Wrapping up the fourth move since its founding a decade ago, Ellie Mae, Inc. is back in the familiar territory of Hacienda Business Park, now occupying the single-story building at 4155 Hopyard Road. In the early years of the new millennium, the company, a pioneer in technology solutions for the mortgage industry, housed 120 local employees in leased offices on Willow Road. Business growth subsequently prompted a third address change to larger quarters in Dublin. The return to Hacienda signals a continuation of the upward trend, with enough space for the current workforce of 140 to expand by another 60 to 80 heads.
Even with its reputation as one of the fastest growing companies in the California Bay Area, Lisa Bruun, Ellie Mae's Vice President of People and Operations, expects it will "take a while" to reach building capacity. In the meantime she and her colleagues are making the most of their new location, selected in large measure for its commuting convenience, including proximity to BART, and the availability of childcare. Reflecting her human resources orientation, she remarks, "These are added benefits when you are trying to recruit people."
The prospect of an environmentally friendly workplace also played into the relocation decision. "When we were selecting the building, we gave a lot of thought to making it as 'green' as possible within our timeline and budget," Bruun recalls. Although fit-up entailed gutting "almost everything but the restrooms," Ellie Mae was determined to salvage and reuse as many of the original components as possible, from lighting fixtures and doors to mechanical systems. Sustainability criteria guided the purchase of new materials like carpet and other flooring.
A special point of pride is the high-tech network that ties in motion sensors and lighting controls to maximize energy efficiency, an outgrowth of the corporate commitment to align all phases of its operations. As Bruun explains, "Our products streamline the mortgage process, eliminating paper by sending data electronically. This saves tons and tons of trees. It's really important to our CEO and our group as a whole to walk the same talk here in the office as out in the marketplace."
She does concede that going green put some stress on the occupancy timeline, which scheduled only three months for renovations before the Thanksgiving 2007 move-in. Ellie Mae not only nailed the target but promptly launched a holiday decorating contest to promote both internal team-building and the spirit of community service. Vying for donations to their favorite charities, employee teams waxed creative as they crafted seasonal displays according to predetermined categories: the most environmentally friendly, the most high-tech, and so forth. Results included a grouping of life-size reindeer pulling a Santa sleigh, all made from recycled cardboard; a kitchen fireplace scene; and the replica of a classic Macy's window display. One team even involved a local elementary school in the effort, auctioning off holiday-themed student artwork and donating back the proceeds for classroom necessities.
Despite all the rumblings in the mortgage industry, Ellie Mae is facing a very bright future. "We've seen a lot of organizations change, and decreased volume impacts our customers," Bruun admits. But thanks to a steady focus on solutions that help customers manage their businesses better, Ellie Mae revenue and profits have stayed steady as well.
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