Redwood City-based StrongMail Expands, But Not Without Hitch

Eager to extend its reach beyond the West Coast, Redwood City-based provider of interactive email and social media marketing solutions, StrongMail Systems, crept into Manhattan’s growing technology scene the fastest way it knew how: by acquiring the New York-based design firm Magnetik and consolidating in New York.

By the end of 2010, in fact, StrongMail had taken such advantage of Magnetik’s business ties and staff—not to mention 2,000 square feet of office space at 350 Seventh Avenue—that making inroads into Manhattan’s so-called Silicon Alley was beginning to seem easy.

So when StrongMail began to outgrow Magnetik’s footprint a year later, the marketing firm’s top officials approached brokers at the Kaufman Organization for a quick solution.

104 West 27th Street. (Photo by Peter Lettre)

“They didn’t want to have to pick out furniture or get their space ready,” said Stephen Benoit, a leasing broker at the Kaufman Organization who represents StrongMail. “They wanted to come in, plug in their computers and be up and running.”

Benefiting from New York’s tech boom, StrongMail spilled into additional space at 350 Seventh Avenue, upping it presence at the property to nearly 3,000 square feet.

“They literally took a vacant office next door to them on their hall and put desks in there and moved people in,” Mr. Benoit said.

In a sector where opportunities favor the expeditious, StrongMail was antsy to slip into a better solution—and quickly. Given the company’s brisk pace of hiring, executives sought 6,000 square feet—at least. The oversize requirement squeezed 350 Seventh Avenue out of contention because the building’s floor plates weren’t large enough, recalled Mr. Benoit. “They really wanted large, open offices, like a lot of firms in their business do,” he said.

Adding to the pressure, StrongMail’s lease at 350 Seventh Avenue had expired late last year, and, ever since, its officials had been renting the office space on a month-to-month basis in an arrangement that was costing the company more than what’s expected of a typical lease.

To be sure, the requirement was a challenge. Midtown South, where StrongMail wanted to relocate, boasts a distinction as the country’s least-vacant office market. On top of that, StrongMail’s ideal midsize footprint was strongly coveted by other office tenants—meaning its executives faced a dense thicket of commercial challengers no matter the space.

“You could literally throw a rock and hit five companies looking for that type of space,” Mr. Benoit said.

Redwood City-based StrongMail Expands, But Not Without Hitch