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Making Novell “Bricks and Mortar”

In the summer of 1985, Novell enlarged its world headquarters by remodeling another building a block away from its original offices at 1170 North Industrial Park Drive in Orem. The new 22,000-square-foot facility (at 748 North 1340 West, the former Ogden’s Carpet building) brought Novell’s total space in Utah to 41,000 square feet. Engineering, corporate communications, and marketing moved into the new “Ogden” building, leaving sales, accounting, customer service, product education, and manufacturing in the original “1170” site.

At the ribbon-cutting ceremony in August, Ray announced that the enlarged quarters were only temporary and that Novell would be constructing a new plant in Utah within the next year. This was a welcome decision, because the growing company was gobbling up adjacent commercial space at a fast pace.

The new headquarters building was Ron’s first assignment. He surveyed employees to find out their preferences as to location, and they were practically unanimous in choosing Orem, where most of them lived. However, as Ron and the other executives studied possible locations, they chose a site in Provo, the sister city continuous with (and, to an outsider, indistinguishable from) Orem.

The site for the new world headquarters was a remote and fairly desolate area of swampy land at the southernmost section of Provo (the opposite edge from Orem), just barely within the city limits. There were a few light manufacturing companies there, a couple of motels, an Elk’s Lodge, a city golf course, and the town dump. This area, optimistically referred to as the East Bay Business Center, would be Novell’s new home. Ron was allowed to hire a facility and materials management professional, Boyd Worthington, to help plan the project.

In the six months after Boyd was hired and before the new building was ready, August 1985 to January 1986, the company expanded from two buildings to seven, all former warehouses.

“Our biggest challenge is to adapt these various warehouses to serve as offices,” said Boyd.

On October 31, 1985, a groundbreaking ceremony was held at the new site. Seven or eight of Novell’s managers, including Craig, Ron, and Judith, wielded shovels as Provo Mayor Jim Ferguson watched. The Boyer Company, a major Utah real estate developer and construction firm, was awarded the contract to build the $5-million 90,000-square-foot facility.

In announcing the choice of the site, Ray said, “Our future growth will be considerable. I am convinced that we can achieve our targets in growth and employment in this location.” Ray estimated the company would provide 600 to 800 additional jobs in Utah by 1989, for a total Utah work force of 800 to 1,000. As it turned out, Novell attained this employment level in 1987, two years ahead of schedule, and ever since Novell has been one of the largest job creators in Utah. (There is good reason why “Uncle Ray” is a hero within Utah.)

Just a few months after the groundbreaking, Ron and Boyd were already planning an addition to the new headquarters building. Boyd said, “My guess is that as soon as we walk in the doors we’ll fill the building. We’ll probably need to go to an immediate Phase Two. We really need 90,000 square feet right now, and before the new place is done we still have nine months of growth.” Ron estimated that at least 200,000 square feet would be needed by 1988.

Lack of work space was a problem at Novell for at least five years, from 1984 until Phase III was completed in 1989. Employees often had to share cubicles, and at various points in 1986 and 1987 temporary offices were created in trailers out in the parking lots. Sandy Searles, Manager of Product Education, was quoted in a 1986 LAN Times article:

Growth and finding enough space was a problem even two years ago [May 1984]. When I was interviewed I was asked if I would mind not having a desk, or even if I would mind working out of my car. Now I’ve hired two people to work in an unused closet. This place is a palace [compared] to what we’ve had in the past. We’ve made 10 moves in two years. Every time we thought we had finally made it, but even today we’ve run out of room.

As Novell expanded its home office, it also expanded its field locations. In the summer of 1985, a Silicon Valley/Western Regional Office was opened in Mountain View, CA; a regional sales office in Düsseldorf, West Germany; and a training and service office in Vienna, VA, close to Washington, DC. The regional offices were used to provide technical support, sales support, and training to customers.

The Düsseldorf office was Novell’s third European location in 1985. The other two were a technical services office in Frankfurt and an office in Maidenhead, near London, used for both sales and tech support. Twenty of Novell’s 41 international distributors were based in Europe, and European sales accounted for about 19% ($6 million) of Novell’s 1985 revenues.

More on all this in the “International” section (pp. 198–205) of Chapter Seven.

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