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April 16, 2018
From the Editor

Companies' office space investments proving to be effective tool for recruitment and retention

We hear all the time about the difficulty in finding qualified employees.

Unemployment is at historic lows. The workforce is aging out. Maine's population growth has been static. All of that has been well reported.

What's caught our attention in recent months has been the significant investment companies are making in office space.

On-site cafes and fitness centers, "huddle rooms" and "story walls" are part of a new look in offices around Maine.

As reported by Senior Writer Renee Cordes, with photographs by Tim Greenway, our cover feature offers an inside look at the new space at Clark Insurance, Tilson, Tyler Technologies and Unum.

The new-look offices are enticing, but the defining theme is that companies are using office space as a means for recruitment and retention. Employees want to be in clean, well-thought-out offices. Clients want to be part of a companies that are investing in the workplace and people.

Let's make it clear that this isn't the 1980s, with gratuitous spending on fountains, outrageous art or gargantuan corner offices. In many cases, the companies are doing more with less. Open office plans and a lack of private offices speak not just to a culture of more cooperative workplace interactions, but also a thrifty use of space.

Have you heard of this company with 250 Maine employees?

If we hadn't run a list with the wrong address for this company we might never heard from them.

But, as luck would have it we ran a listing of RMS Residential Mortgage Services with an out-of-state address (that of one of its 78 offices), without realizing it is based right here in Maine, in South Portland. So I recently stopped by for a visit.

RMS is one of those companies that, in some circles, has operated under the radar. However, in the residential mortgage circles is making a big impact. In 2016, it closed on 17,110 loans, a volume of $3.83 billion, up from $900,000 million in 2011. This year, it expects to write mortgages totaling $4.5 billion. Mortgage Executive, a trade journal, ranked RMS No. 37 on its list of Top 100 Mortgage Companies in America. RMS is the No. 1 residential mortgage originator in Maine and New Hampshire and No. 2 in Massachusetts. Not bad for a company that started in 1991 and has endured two economic downturns since being acquired in 2001 by President and CEO James R. Seely.

Since I tend to obsess about employment numbers, I was struck by the sheer number of employees at RMS. There are 866 overall at the company's 78 offices; about half are in sales, though local offices have a good deal of administrative staff. In South Portland, there are 250 employees in a smattering of office buildings on Donald B. Dean Drive, Christopher Toppi Drive and John Roberts Road. RMS has outgrown its own buildings and is leasing space in surrounding buildings.

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