Atomic Object is Expanding to Detroit

Atomic Object is opening a second office. We’ve selected Detroit as the location for our first expansion. Atomic Object Detroit is expected to grow to be a peer to the Grand Rapids office. To lead the Detroit office, we’ve hired a managing partner with years of experience in corporate IT, product development, and business process improvement. Our initial focus will be on web and mobile product development. We hope to be operating in Detroit by early summer 2012. We’re actively seeking software developers and application designers to hire for Detroit.

We are good at what we do. Ten years of consistent growth, happy customers, regular innovation, and a deep talent pool proves that. We create a lot of value for our clients. Since we can create value and generate wealth, I feel we have a moral obligation to do so. On the other hand, because Atomic is an innovation services firm, our capacity to help clients is strictly limited by how many people we employ. Our culture, facilities, and flat organization wouldn’t scale indefinitely, and are a critical part of why we’re good at what we do. We’re already quite large for our industry. Opening a second office, rather than simply getting bigger in Grand Rapids, is growth without growing.

We expect to be a stronger company as our Detroit office grows. We’ll have a broader and deeper brain trust with which to help our clients, more scope to hire specialized skills, more flexibility in composing teams, and an opportunity for Atoms to easily exchange and work from a second city.

Perhaps not surprisingly, our peers in other states don’t seem to be interested in Detroit. We see them opening offices in more obvious centers of technology and commerce — New York, Boston, Boulder, San Francisco, Chicago — or taking an international route. We think the opportunities in Detroit are equally exciting, yet easily overlooked.

We also have direct personal interests in contributing to Detroit’s economy. To many of our clients and colleagues from other states, Michigan is Detroit, plain and simple. Even ignoring that obvious oversimplification, Michigan’s future is clearly tied to Detroit’s. While Grand Rapids has revived its downtown in the last 15 years, and our local economy is a bright spot in Michigan, we’ll always be part of the state. Every current Atom lives and works in or close to Grand Rapids. I see a direct chain of self-interest here: what’s good for Detroit is good for Michigan is good for Grand Rapids is good for Atomic is good for Atoms. Contributing to the revival of Detroit helps all of us.

Detroit is a big place. We’re looking to locate downtown or in Midtown. When we bought our building on Wealthy Street in Grand Rapids we did so to be part of the core city. When we moved there in 2003 there were only three restaurants, one bar and almost no retail shops within a half mile radius of our office. Now there are 21 restaurants, two bars, two breweries, two coffee shops, retail shops, office space, galleries and crowded sidewalks. I like to think all those lunches, beer, and coffee Atoms bought locally since 2003 have helped make this happen. We’d like to be part of a similar story in Detroit.

Atomic is looking to engage and help build the technical community of Detroit as well, just as we have in Grand Rapids. We already have Atoms from Grand Rapids attending and speaking at technical events in Detroit. As we set down our roots we’ll seek further opportunities for participation and sponsorship. Building a vibrant, competitive technical community and a pool of talent is good for every company in the area.