Cleveland Plain Dealer – Foreclosure woes mean rapid growth for Safeguard Properties
The Cleveland Plain Dealer published a story about Safeguard Properties’ recent move to Valley View and the rapid growth they are experiencing due to the foreclosure crisis.
Foreclosure woes mean rapid growth for Safeguard Properties
by Michelle Jarboe/Plain Dealer Reporter
Safeguard Properties has finished moving its headquarters from Brooklyn Heights to Valley View, where the company plans to add more jobs in the booming business of maintaining foreclosed houses.
Even as the national recession deepened last year and companies large and small slashed employment, Safeguard hired about 200 people. The company’s work force is now more than 700, roughly 575 of them at the corporate headquarters. This year, Safeguard expects to add 100 to 125 jobs, some at the headquarters and some at field services sites across the country.
“We’re one of the few beneficiaries of these times,” said Alan Jaffa, the company’s chief operating officer. “The foreclosure crisis is something we’re very much a part of.”
From its inception in North Royalton in 1990, Safeguard has grown into the nation’s largest privately held mortgage field services company. Lenders hire Safeguard, which works with a network of contractors and vendors, to care for houses in foreclosure. The company handles anything from keeping out vandals to changing locks, repairing roofs and mowing lawns.
Since 1990, Safeguard had experienced average annual revenue growth of 10 percent to 15 percent. Last year, though, revenues jumped more than 45 percent, driven by new contracts with large clients and the deepening housing crisis, said Greg Robinson, the company’s chief financial officer. Safeguard expects a 25 percent to 30 percent annual increase in revenues this year, he said.
That growth left Safeguard in tight quarters in Brooklyn Heights, where the company spent 10 years in offices just off Granger Road. In August, Safeguard paid $2.5 million for a building on Hub Parkway in Valley View. Last fall, the suburb approved a 40 percent payroll tax break for 10 years for Safeguard — a move that raised some hackles in Brooklyn Heights, where the mayor accused Valley View of poaching business.
“They couldn’t accommodate our needs,” Robinson said of Brooklyn Heights, where the company was tight on space and running out of electricity to operate its data center.
In Valley View, the company spent roughly $3.5 million to gut and renovate its new building, expand the second floor and build a cafeteria and a fitness center. Safeguard spent another $2 million on additional servers, generators and other technology and support systems.
The move, completed this month, took Safeguard from 33,000 square feet of offices to about 63,000 square feet, with an option to expand to 75,000 square feet. The company now can host training events for contractors and vendors at its headquarters instead of at hotels.
Jaffa said the company has plenty of room to grow. Safeguard had been running two daily shifts, with about 450 to 500 workers at the headquarters during the 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. run. The new building could accommodate twice that many workers, he said.