Publicly traded tech firm taps downtown for satellite office; executive thinks Lawrence has advantages to attract more

photo by: Chad Lawhorn/Journal-World photo

Brendon Allen, director of software development at, said downtown Lawrence has a chance to attract more satellite technology offices of big companies. He said downtown's unique environment and access to IT talent from KU's school of engineering can make a good business case for companies looking for satellite offices. is a publicly traded company that has quietly opened an office in downtown Lawrence. It provides a lot of the technology that makes smart homes — remote control of everything from lights to door bells — possible. But I wonder if the company knows anything about smart offices. Its Lawrence office is located above an ice cream shop.

I wouldn’t call that smart. I would call that freaking brilliant.

The company is located at 11th and Massachusetts streets in the office space that is above Sylas and Maddy’s Ice Cream. They’re not exactly new tenants to the space, at this point. Rather, this is an example of one of those developments that happened during the pandemic, and didn’t get much attention as a result of the world melting like a double dip of butter brickle. (Warning: I’ve now got ice cream on my mind — and perhaps a little bit on my tie.)

As I’ve told you, I’m trying to catch up on some of those developments, and definitely wanted to highlight because it may well be the type of company downtown Lawrence needs to see more of in the future.

The company’s Lawrence office has grown from three employees about two years ago to more than 20 employees today. The office does high-tech work, with most of the employees having skills as programmers or computer engineers.

Lawrence native Brendon Allen has risen to the rank of director of software engineering, and he made one of the sales pitches to convince the company to grow in Lawrence rather than moving to a more traditional tech hub.

“There is a lot of competition for employees in the D.C. area,” Allen said of the area where’s headquarters is located. “There is a lot of competition in Redwood, Calif., and places like that on the West Coast. You are competing with Amazon and Google and companies like that. My point is we have a really good engineering school here, and the people who want to stay in Lawrence (are) pretty good.

“We just don’t have enough tech jobs to keep them.”

Downtown Lawrence, however, might be the place to corral new tech jobs. In the highly competitive world of attracting computer programmers and engineers, office amenities are important. Converting often underutilized upstairs space along Massachusetts Street into grade A office space might be one way for Lawrence to stand out in the competition.

“I truly believe we have the best tech office in Lawrence,” Allen said of the space, which was redeveloped by a group led by a guy who understands high tech. Lawrence resident Matt Gilhousen was one of the founders of Tradewind Energy. The Lenexa-based company became a hot player in the wind and solar energy industries and was bought by a major international energy firm in 2019.

photo by: Chad Lawhorn/Journal-World photo

Like the rest of the space, the break room at features real hardwood floors and lots of natural light. Unlike other parts of the building, though, the break room also includes a video game machine in the corner.

Allen said downtown Lawrence gives the community an advantage over some other communities that more often only have high-tech office parks to offer companies.

“You can walk downstairs and have five options for food in one block and 30 in just a couple of more blocks,” Allen said. “We had a visitor from our D.C. office awhile back, and he has been trying to transfer here ever since. We have a huge asset in downtown Lawrence to do this.”

Certainly, isn’t the only example of tech companies that have zeroed in on downtown Lawrence. Deciphera Pharmaceuticals — which was founded in Lawrence but moved its headquarters to suburban Boston — has a research and development office in upstairs space in the 600 block of Massachusetts Street.

But Allen said there could be more community emphasis placed on trying to attract these type of jobs. He said the community is clearly investing in trying to foster new startup tech companies that can grow into major success stories. That’s good, but shouldn’t be the only strategy.

“We shouldn’t just focus on homegrown IT,” Allen said. “That is hard to do at a large scale. But satellite offices for tech companies have a lot of potential.”

photo by: Chad Lawhorn/Journal-World photo moved into its space at 1101 Massachusetts St. last year at about the time the pandemic forced offices to begin working remotely. The company doesn’t yet have its full complement of employees back in the office.

He said Lawrence often would be in a position to make a strong business case: A Lawrence satellite office likely could attract talent at prices less than what would be required in places like Washington, D.C., or Silicon Valley, but the Lawrence jobs still would pay wages far better than the typical job in Lawrence.

The university’s engineering school also would be a big selling point. He said has hired four people in the last year out of the KU engineering school. The company often can offer internships to KU engineers that turn into full-time positions.

“There is a lot of potential,” Allen said of adding more tech jobs to Lawrence. “There are barriers, though. One of them is we don’t advertise that we have tech jobs in Lawrence very well.”

Allen said continued to be in growth mode in Lawrence. It has two new employees scheduled to start in June, and the company is looking to fill intern positions now.

As for more about the company, it is the developer of a lot of technology that you see in many name-brand products in the security world. The company doesn’t do its own retail marketing, but rather partners with providers ADT Security Services or other licensed security companies.

The company does everything from building the mobile apps that allow homeowners to access their security systems remotely to coming up with new smart home features that allow you to control your lights remotely or use cameras as part of your doorbell system.

The company did garner some buzz in the tech world earlier this year by becoming the first company to market with a touch-less doorbell system, which may have some advantages in the world of COVID. People stand on a a doormat to ring the doorbell, which is highly equipped with cameras that allow users to not only see who is at their door but also to inspect packages that have been left on their doorsteps.

In terms of the big picture for, the firm is traded on the Nasdaq exchange under the ticker ALRM. It released 2020 financial results last month. Revenue was up 23% to just under $620 million. Profits were also up with earnings checking in at $1.75 per diluted share, or about $90 million.

That could buy a lot of ice cream. Allen said while he loves the space, he has had to show some discipline to not constantly be eating ice cream at work. But that doesn’t mean his children have to show the same discipline. They definitely enjoy dropping by to see their father at work more than they used to.

“I’m way more popular with my kids,” he said.


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