Balluff Inc., the U.S. subsidiary of Balluff GmbH, opened the doors of its impressive new three-story, 48,000 sq-ft customer support center in Florence, Ky., just south of Cincinnati, with about 100 guests in attendance, including Kentucky Governor Steve Bushear and a host of local politicians.
Ken Howard, Balluff Inc. president, said that the building symbolizes the company’s goal of doubling the size of the business here.
“We have a culture that attracts great employees who care about the business and are absolutely committed to our customers’ success,” said Howard.
The building itself is a stunner. The sensor manufacturer (which also makes transducers, RFID systems and networking products) has been in Florence for more than 30 years, and the various expansions of the original building can be seen in varying roof height and differing interior styles. For the new center, the company chose a site on the opposite of a nearby ravine—and then constructed a 200-ft bridge over the wooded area, connecting the new building to the parking lot of the original structure. As an added bonus, the new building, with an iconic fold about a third of the way across it’s length, is quite visible from the main thoroughfare.
Florian Hermle, managing director of Balluff GmbH, said the style is, “technical, elegant, functional, and bright.” I found it delightfully washed in outside light, as the architects designed it so all areas have access to outside windows. The seating areas are mostly open office style (read: no cubicles!), with only a few scattered offices. So-called “clouds” of ceiling tiles have occasional breaks through to the structural ceiling above, allowing for better dampening of sound.
The design is a bit of a departure for the 150 Kentucky employees, but the German headquarters feels that it’s important to have a consistency in safe, healty and comfortable working environments at all the company’s locations around the world. Managing director Michael Unger said that that shows their customers and business partners that they can expect the same quality worldwide.
After the ceremonial ribbon cutting, building tours were conducted, and then guests were brought into the lower level, where a bluegrass band played. We were also treated to a fun application of Balluff sensors, where a serve-yourself beer station calculates how much beer is being dispensed and how much is on your current tab—a creative idea currently being used on cruise ships.
Construction of the building started in May 2013, and employees will begin moving in over the coming weeks.