BEND, OR -- A local maker of outdoor gear for dogs needs to expand its Bend facility and aims to help other start-ups in the process. Ruffwear President Will Blount says over the last decade, the company has seen consistent growth at its building near Summit High. "We have roughly a 20,000 sf facility here that used to house all of our warehousing and distribution. We outgrew that in March 2016, and so we saw an opportunity to open up this space and invite other outdoor-oriented companies to co-habitat, if you will, with us."
He says they’re finalizing plans to add a second floor, in effect doubling the building’s square footage and creating enough room to open a new co-working space. Blount tells KBND News, "There’s a lot of small start-up companies that are really looking for flex-space; as they grow, they’re not quite sure how much space they’re going to need. And so the nice piece to the co-working facility is, if you just need a one-person desk, then we’ll have that available – up to about a 6-person desk facility." He hopes the new space will also create a collaborative atmosphere where Ruffwear can help impart wisdom on fledgling businesses, so they don’t make the same mistakes.
Blount expects the project to cost around $4 million. With the help of Business Oregon
, the company has secured a $250,000 forgivable loan from the Governor's Strategic Reserve Fund, "Outdoor apparel industry is one of the state’s kind of targeted sectors, and so they saw this as an opportunity for us to really create some collaboration amongst the industry. And, that forgivable loan is tied to job growth as well as infrastructure around the co-working side of it."
He hopes to start construction in early 2018 and says the entire project will take about a year to complete.