Bay Area’s largest furniture dealer, One Workplace launches interior construction company Vantis to cope with construction costs, labor shortages

By Meghan Hall

Ryan Ware, Vantis’ Co-Founder and Vice President of Construction. Image Credit: Vantis

One Workplace, one of the Bay Area’s largest office furniture dealers has doubled down on its investments in the commercial interior space industry with the launch of Vantis, an interior commercial facilities construction company specializing in off-site construction and custom interiors. Launched in January 2019, Vantis’ founding comes at a time when many real estate experts are watching — and waiting — for the Bay Area’s real estate market to slow. Nevertheless, the Bay Area’s regional construction market is valued at around $6 billion annually, according to Vantis’ Co-Founder and Vice President of Construction, Ryan Ware. Vantis, said Ware, will be a response to the rapidly rising cost of construction and existing labor shortages that currently plague the Bay Area’s construction industry.

What inspired One Workplace to launch Vantis, an interior commercial facilities construction company in January 2019?

Over the past 10 years, the construction division within One Workplace showed continual growth and saw opportunities that began to expand outside its initial concept. In particular, the construction group recognized and began to embrace the potential for client solutions using off-site fabrication.

Too often people build with methods and materials that limit a client’s ability to address tomorrow’s challenges. Now, there is no excuse to do that.”

There also was the realization that interior construction is a highly specialized service that is becoming more specialized every day, and in many cases, the customer for the construction business is different. Spinning Vantis off from One Workplace allows the new company to focus like a laser on providing interior construction services to general contractors, architects and engineers, for whom we typically work as a subcontractor.

Why is the introduction of a company specializing in off-site construction of interiors a unique opportunity for the Northern California commercial real estate market?

Northern Californians have always been pioneers and remain so today in many ways — as [a major] tech epicenter and in the delivery of cutting-edge healthcare and educational services.

The market for interior commercial construction in Northern California is large. As an offspring of One Workplace, our network of relationships in Northern California is strong. We expect our general contractor and end-user clients to really appreciate the quality and flexibility of the interior construction services we provide, and it goes without saying that commercial facilities that incorporate our solutions become more valuable given the asset management benefits that accrue from highly flexible custom interiors.

How does the creation of Vantis fit in with overarching trends currently dominating the commercial construction industry?

Off-site fabrication, which is a key part of Vantis’ commercial construction approach, has been around for centuries. But it hadn’t taken off the way it is now, because the technology was not as advanced, and because it is a challenge to integrate into commercial construction.

New technology allows for designs that are more precise and comprehensive, and for higher quality materials to be fabricated, including components with built-in electrical and audio-visual capability.

We have married the technology and the superior product with our own approach to managing skilled labor on-site and are integrating multiple trades and scopes. The result is the Vantis secret sauce, if you will, which engineers value into a project from the outset and delivers a client space that is optimized to be flexible as the user’s needs change over time.

In 2019, is Vantis targeting a particular Bay Area submarket or client base? If so, where?

Vantis is targeting all market sectors, corporate office, healthcare, education and life sciences. All users can benefit from our interior construction solutions, in particular facilities with high-density uses that evolve on a regular basis.

Looking ahead into 2019, what is Vantis’ growth strategy? How does Vantis plan on scaling its growth and how quickly does One Workplace anticipate the company will grow?

Our three-year plan is to triple revenue by focusing on projects that can best benefit from a multi-trade, off-site approach to interior construction. Entering into discussions at the right time can help the overall process and allow us to work on larger projects and provide the necessary coordination that is required with design consultants and other trades.

What challenges does Vantis face in its anticipated growth? How does the company plan on overcoming these obstacles?

The largest challenge has always been the conventional mindset and a resistance to look at new ways to build the interior environment. Projects must be managed differently when using an off-site approach. Change can be painful, but it is so worth it given the benefits.

Working in the off-site world, we must make decisions much earlier. We can only fabricate what we know. And if decisions come late, or only portions can be fabricated due to late decisions, the field will feel the flow change in work, causing project sites to be less lean than we intend them to be.

Has Vantis secured any clients since the announcement of its launch in January 2019? If so, who?

The launch of Vantis has created a lot of discussions and opportunities that the team is currently reviewing with several contractors and clients throughout the region. Due to the early timing of many of these conversations we cannot name specific clients; however, the understanding of getting us in discussion as early as possible has hit home with those reaching out.

What does a successful product in the interior design-build market look like today? What are clients looking for — and will continue to look for — in their spaces?

Success in the built environment can mean something different to every client, design firm or contractor. However, for Vantis, it means that the end user can use the space for how it was intended, and not just on day one, but over time. It means that we engineer with value through an off-site solution, instead of cutting costs on materials to work into a budget. It means that the role of a dumpster becomes less and less on a jobsite, because materials are largely fabricated off-site, with more efficiency and less waste. It means that [interior design-build] delivers a space that allows the client to retain and attract the very best employees. It means that we focus on new methods of building, using technology to fabricate and engineering to allow for flexibility tomorrow. Too often people build with methods and materials that limit a client’s ability to address tomorrow’s challenges. Now, there is no excuse to do that.