The owners of a fast-growing Vancouver business have purchased a building in downtown Camas from the Westlie Ford dealership and plan to renovate the space into trendy offices for more than 30 employees.
Shawn Parker and Brendan Ford, founders of Fuel Medical Group, envision a "raw, industrial look" for their firm's offices inside the 10,000-square-foot building, according to Parker. He said they hope to keep the structure's mid-century character features like its dome-shaped roof and elements of brick, wood and glass that are part of the space at 314 N.E. Birch St. Downtown Camas, with its walkable street grid of restaurants, shops and bars, also provides an attraction for future employees, Parker said.
"We wanted a fun, cool place to be, not an office complex," said Parker, 38, co-owner of Fuel Medical with Ford, also 38. The company provides management services for physicians' clinics.
The business partners paid $825,000 for the building and plan to begin renovating the space in May. That's when Westlie Ford expects to move its service center to the dealership's main location off state Highway 14 at 115 S.E. First St. in Washougal. An unused building at the site is now being converted into space for a new service center, said Randy Dickerson, who owns the dealership with his sons Ryan and Bret.
Parker said Fuel Medical plans to hire 10 more employees over the next six months. The company now operates in cramped, 2,500-square-foot offices in a retail strip-center on Southeast First Street near 164th Avenue.
"It's definitely time to move," Parker said.
He and Ford are working to implement a controlled growth strategy for Fuel Medical, which has grown exponentially since it was launched by the business partners in late 2009. In 2012, the company saw revenues of $3.3 million, an 83 percent increase over $1.8 million in 2011.
Fuel Medical's management services allow doctors and their personnel to focus on their professional practices rather than adminstration, Parker said.
"We provide everything from human resources to marketing and business analytics," Parker said, adding that ear, nose and throat doctors are the company's main focus.
Fuel Medical's business model is similar to that of Vancouver-based Audigy Group, which serves and supports audiologists.
Parker said he and Ford, who attended high school together at Santiam Christian in Adair Village, Ore., became reacquainted while working for Audigy Group in 2008. Ford was president of Audigy Group and Parker was vice-president under the company's founder and chief executive officer, Brandon Dawson.
Parker said Fuel Medical's offices in downtown Camas will also be close to home for he and Ford, both residents of the city. He said many of the company's employees reside in Portland, with some in Vancouver.
Ford and Parker bought a small parking lot for employees from Westlie, along with the servicing center.