BURLINGTON CITY — Broadband provider Bandwave Systems Inc. moved to High Street more than a decade ago, lured by low real estate prices and the potential its owners saw in the city’s downtown.
On Thursday, the company will solidify its commitment to the city when it formally celebrates the opening of new, expanded office space that will accommodate its continued growth.
“It’s a great place for us to be,” said Bandwave managing partner Thomas Azelby. “We’ve become part of the community.”
Founded in 2000 in the Old City section of Philadelphia, Bandwave Systems works with different telecommunications companies — such as Comcast and Time Warner — to bundle broadband services for customers, giving them one contract, one bill and one place to call for service. They also provide related products, such as guest Wi-Fi access.
“We’re able to put a lot of different companies together and provide the best value service that companies could never get before,” said George Allgair III, a partner in the firm and a Burlington City resident. “It’s the best combination of services across the country.”
In 2003, as business continued to grow, Allgair and Azelby moved the company from Philadelphia into a historic, three-story building in Burlington City that once served as the home of well-known attorney and Judge Alexander Denbo. They chose Burlington City after looking throughout the region, including Pennsylvania, for space.
“Burlington City (is) a nice, historical city,” said Azelby, who now lives in nearby Riverton. “It was a good location to be, and the price was right. It was a city that was coming back at the time. People were talking about it. It had potential. That helped us make the decision.”
About two years ago, however, the pair began to contemplate Bandwave’s future in Burlington City.
Business was continuing to grow. Last year, the company made Inc. magazine’s list of the 5,000 fastest-growing private companies, and in January, it received one of SmartCEO’s Future 50 awards. Its customer base also was changing, from mom-and-pop businesses to larger enterprises with multiple locations. They wondered if more conventional office space would make a better impression on clients.
In the end, however, they said they were excited by the rebirth they saw happening around them. While Burlington City was hard hit by the recession, there’s now a renewed energy in town, they said, with new restaurants opening and plans underway for development along the waterfront. The city’s growth has even become a selling point when recruiting potential employees, they said.
“The city is at a stage right now where there’s investors coming in, restaurants coming in, development’s going on,” Azelby said. “Our timing to be part of that was perfect. We’re keeping our business here, and at the same time, we’re contributing to a renaissance that’s happening in a town that’s a few hundred years old. We’re happy to be a part of that.”
Burlington City Mayor Barry Conaway said Bandwave’s commitment could serve as a message to other businesses looking to grow in the city — or move in.
“We’re very happy that Bandwave is staying the city of Burlington,” he said. “Whether it’s a small company that creates one job or a larger company that creates multiple jobs, anytime you get a business owner to put out a large capital outlay to say, ‘We’re going to stay within your city,’ we’re very appreciative.”
To accommodate Bandwave’s growth, the company renovated storage space and a garage, adding an employee kitchen and high-tech office space, where employees can provide round-the-clock monitoring of clients’ systems. Bandwave has a dozen employees, but has room for up to 20 in the new space. Azelby said they’ll hire two or three more employees this year.
Azelby and Allgair also said they realized that the unconventional office space suits their business.
“Our clients don’t come to us because we’re some big organization,” Azelby said. “They come to us because we’re specialized. This (building) reflects who we are.”