SYRACUSE — ZeroDraft opened its third office in January and has plans for even more expansion in 2013 or 2014.
The Syracuse–based company provides services like insulation and air sealing, replacement windows and doors, energy assessments, heat and cooling, and more to residential and commercial customers. The firm’s third office, in Buffalo, opened last month with six employees, plus another three coming on board in early March, ZeroDraft Chief Operating Officer Mike Borek says.
By early July, the company expects to have 15 employees in Buffalo and 17 to 20 by the end of the year. The expansion to western New York comes on top of the addition of 20 new employees companywide in 2011, Borek says.
ZeroDraft now employs about 90 people.
Buffalo’s housing stock is similar to Syracuse, Borek says. There’s just more of it.
“It’s bigger on all fronts,” he says. “And we felt like a lot of the things that would plague a home in Central New York would be the same there.”
Distance wasn’t a factor either. The company has already learned to manage a remote office with its Albany location and the distance from Syracuse to Buffalo is about the same.
Also, the company’s two previous markets were doing well.
“We did see good growth from our existing markets,” Borek says. “That’s what gave us even more confidence to expand.”
ZeroDraft will focus initially on residential work in Buffalo, Borek adds. The jobs tend to be smaller in scale and can be completed more quickly than commercial projects, so the company is able to ramp up the residential side of the business faster.
But Borek says ZeroDraft will start seeking commercial work in Buffalo this summer. Some of the new hiring expected this year will come as the commercial business in the market grows.
Companywide, the commercial-residential split is about 50-50, Borek adds.
He says the firm is definitely looking at expanding to a fourth market. Rochester, the Southern Tier, and the Hudson Valley are all potential targets for a future location in the next few years, Borek says.
ZeroDraft’s growth has been driven in part by its sector, he adds. Interest in areas like building performance and energy efficiency has been rising in recent years.
Government incentives have also helped.
ZeroDraft expanded to Buffalo under a new brand name, UltraSpaces. The company will also use the new name in any future new markets, Borek says.
The business will continue to use the ZeroDraft name in the Syracuse and Albany markets since it already has such high brand recognition in those areas. But for the future, Borek says the firm wanted a name that implied a broader scope.
The name ZeroDraft, he says, could insinuate a focus on only air sealing and insulation. And while the company already provides services beyond those two, it may look to add even more in the future.
ZeroDraft has plans to start working with renewable energy, particularly solar power, Borek says. That could include solar-powered hot-water systems as well as the use of solar cells to generate electricity.
“We like the generality of the name,” Borek says. “It could accommodate growth into other energy-related areas.”