Lori Hawkins, Staff Writer, Austin American-Statesman / After years of working in two downtown offices, uShip employees are finally under the same roof in a sleek new headquarters on East Riverside Drive.
And the timing is right: the move comes as the 220-person company, which runs an online shipping marketplace, is in major growth mode.
It took two years to convert a former trade school at 205 E. Riverside Drive into a three-story 45,000-square-foot showcase. The result is a modern, open collaborative workplace that incorporates both new and repurposed architectural elements with exposed framing and natural light.
“The big thing was to move from multiple offices to one place — that’s what we have been looking forward to,” said uShip CEO Mike Williams. “Being under one roof drives collaboration, and we’re feeling it already.”
The headquarters features a gourmet kitchen and dining area, where the company has continued its tradition of serving daily lunch, cooked by company chefs. Breakfast is served on Fridays.
Shower facilities, locker rooms and storage areas for bikes are included. Although there’s enough parking for workers, uShip offers a green credit — $50 per paycheck, or $100 a month — to employees who take public transportation, walk or bike to work.
Dogs are welcome at the new headquarters, and 15 to 20 employees regularly bring them to work.
Outdoor decks and an outdoor seating area offer a view of East Bouldin Creek, while a game area provides shuffle board, a ping pong table, TVs and arcade games.
Founded in 2003, uShip runs an online shipping marketplace that matches customers who need to move unusually big items with thousands of transport companies that can take the loads.
Over the past few years, uShip has moved into the $300 billion truckload freight market. The company also launched uShip PRO, which lets business shippers and freight brokers build their own carrier networks and manage and automate their shipping operations.
In February, uShip raised $25 million from logistics giant DB Schenker for a new expansion push. (The company has raised a total of $50 million from investors including Benchmark Capital and Kleiner Perkins.)
The company is using the new money to accelerate development of its logistics software platform for business segments including high-volume enterprise shippers and small and midsize businesses.
The new headquarters consolidates workers from its former headquarters at Third and Brazos streets and additional space at Third Street and Congress Avenue. And it provides space for the company’s next wave of growth, which include plans to double its workforce over the next few years.
Williams expects that the perks offered by uShip will help the company recruit new workers. But the communal meals, collaborative seating areas and game room also serve another purpose, he said.
“When a company gets to be 220 people, it’s easy to get isolated,” he said. “The lunch breaks down that wall of isolation, and so do the spaces that encourage collaboration. There’s no better way for our executive team to stay connected than to sit down with everyone for lunch. It keeps us all connected.”The move from the heart of downtown to south of Lady Bird Lake has brought some unexpected perks, said Ingrid McLain, a six-year uShip employee and manager of customer success.
“I was a little nervous about not being downtown, but it’s nice to explore another part of the city, and to be around so much green space,” McLain said. “I can bike to work, and with the locker room, I can work out in the morning and then get ready. But the best part is the collaborative space for everyone to meet and chat. After being in separate buildings, it’s great to meet new employees and talk face to face.”