Why this company left the office park for a spot in downtown Farmington

While not known for their office buildings, downtown Farmington has drawn another tenant away from the industrial office parks of nearby suburbs to the walkable environs of their traditional downtown. Central Data, a company founded in 1973 that provides software and services to wholesale distributors that are migrating to the Cloud, left their longtime home and moved their center of operations into a storefront office space on Grand River Avenue this past May. They are, says Head of Business Development Shane Doyle, beyond happy with their decision.

“From the standpoint of attracting talent, and for the kind of future of what we want our company to look like, I think the space that we're in is definitely something that will be appealing for new employees,” he says. “And that’s why we wanted to move to a downtown area like Farmington. It’s because of that.”

Central Data is located in Suite A at 33305 Grand River Avenue in downtown Farmington.Their move to a traditional, walkable downtown reflects a larger trend here and elsewhere. Locally — very locally — GLP Financial Group made waves when they left their own industrial office park, purchasing and renovating the historic Farmington State Savings Bank building as their new headquarters. In fact, Central Data is one of GLP’s tenants, occupying the storefront that GLP used as their own temporary headquarters while they awaited the completion of their new home.

We spoke with Shane Doyle about Central Data’s move to downtown Farmington.

Metromode: Tell us about your move. What drew you to downtown Farmington?

Shane Doyle: Location was definitely a big part of it. We used to be in Farmington Hills and a lot of our employees live on this side of town. A couple of our people are even close enough to walk here, which was key. Also just the downtown environment overall, and what downtown Farmington has been able to do. There are a lot of things happening on Grand River and Farmington.

You know, getting people to come into the office post-COVID has been challenging for most companies. So being able to provide an environment that is open in more of a hybrid mode, that’s a little more flexible, has been great. We have departmental meetings that are required one day a week, and then the rest of the days, people are welcome to come in and grab a desk or work remotely. And it's worked really well. We have 50-plus people and only half of them are in metro Detroit, so half of our team was already remote. So for the half that is here, it's a great headquarters. We invite prospective customers as well as current customers here, too.

When you're in an industrial park and there's not really much to the office, it just wasn't very appealing before. But now we have a nice spot where we like to bring people.

Metromode: What are the biggest differences you’ve noticed from being in an industrial park, and now a more traditional downtown setting?

Shane: All the benefits you can think of, right? We’re used to getting in a car for lunch, or having food delivered. Now you can walk across the street and order something from one of the local spots, which I love. All our people love going to the new coffee shops here, and Neu Kombucha and Fresh Thyme — whatever we can walk to. It's just like, everything's there. I walk to the hardware store if we need something for the office, and just getting to meet the neighbors that are in the local businesses has been a real advantage for us.

For me, it's the character, it’s the fabric of what was downtown before we arrived. I love the article that you wrote about KickstART, which is directly across from us. That place is what makes downtown Farmington so unique.

Metromode: What’s your future look like here in downtown Farmington?

Shane: We’re continuing to grow, which we're very fortunate in that. We're planning to have an open house in the spring of next year, and one for our customers, too. We call it distribution day. It’s a really good opportunity for our local customers. We work with quite a handful of local customers that people in the Detroit area know — like Weingartz, DealerShop, Marlo Beauty, Bearing Service, and Vesco Oil — and so we'd like to invite them all over. It's kind of a thought leadership day, where they come in and we talk about what's new with us, and they share some of their business goals and objectives for the year. That's going to happen, and hopefully we're going to merge the two together for an open house-slash-distribution day.

Central Data is located in Suite A at 33305 Grand River Avenue in downtown Farmington. View their Central Data HQ Tour on YouTube.
Enjoy this story? Sign up for free solutions-based reporting in your inbox each week.

Read more articles by MJ Galbraith.

MJ Galbraith is a writer and musician living in Detroit. Follow him on Twitter @mikegalbraith.