Small Business Outreach – Polar Systems

Recently I met with Tim Tragesser and Shane Boyle of Polar Systems.  Polar Systems moved to West Linn in 2010.  They are excited to be part of our City and want to continue to grow while being a valuable community partner.

Who is Polar Systems?  

  • Started in 1981 and moved to West Linn from SE Portland in 2010
  • Now own the building they’re in and plan to stay and grow
  • Currently have 23 full-time employees but expect to have 30 by the end of 2013
  • Began with a hardware sales model (built PCs, servers), transitioned into VAR model in 1993 (value added reseller, meaning they added services), in 2006 transitioned again to current Managed Service Model
  • Core business today:  small to mid-sized companies select Polar Systems, Inc. to serve as outsourced IT, providing everything from help desk services to strategic IT consulting
  • Polar Systems, Inc. is seeking clients who: offer professional services, employ 10 employees or more, and are local (not chain)

Why West Linn?

  • West Linn offered a more attractive image for clients and allowed the company to feel comfortable inviting clients to the office (SE Portland area had deteriorated)
  • West Linn is geographically attractive due to central location and transportation access. Polar Systems, Inc. can pull employees from surrounding areas and service clients in the area. The move from SE Portland to West Linn didn’t threaten staffing (many employees live in Vancouver).
  • West Linn is not in Multnomah County, which became difficult to work with and the fees and regulations became onerous.
  • No employees live in West Linn yet though, and Polar Systems, Inc. only has one other WL client besides the City

What is their business environment?

  • Things change quickly, Polar Systems, Inc. invests in staying ahead of new technology
  • Clients are mostly local but often have offices elsewhere. Building trusted partnerships has allowed Polar Systems, Inc. to provide face-to-face services even far away.
  • Remote work possibilities and the trend toward mobile workforce – Polar Systems, Inc. will move toward BYOD model (bring your own device)

Other thoughts

  • Signage outside of Polar Systems, Inc. is helpful , many callers reference driving by and seeing sign
  • Polar Systems, Inc. called City before the move – suggest that making it as easy as possible to relocate, and maybe even offering incentives, would be helpful. Expressed support for a Welcoming Committee (one that steps in much earlier in the process), also suggested some kind of business mentorship program
  • Improvement districts

Thank you to Tim and Shane for their candor and valuable insight.  The Council will be taking your suggestions and ideas into account as we move forward in economic development and regulation adjustment.  

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