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Jan. 13, 2021
This paid piece is sponsored by Interstate Office Products.
Snapfon is all about simplifying cellphones.
Think big buttons, easy to see, easy to hear, easy to use.
“They’re very basic phones that are great for senior citizens or people who may be visually or hearing impaired. The brighter screen and louder speaker will actually display and speak numbers back to the user more clearly,” said Dan Strandell, general manager.
“And we sell really low-cost talk and text plans that are advantageous for customers who use our phones because they want something they can rely on and are on a fixed income, so they know exactly how much they’re going to pay. We can get our plans down to as low as $11 per month for talk and text, and we’ve built out a great system where folks can select exactly how much minutes, texts and data they want. We even offer an emergency response button and mobile monitoring, so we’re serving a unique niche in the market.”
Snapfon — pronounced “snap phone” — was founded by Tennessee entrepreneurs and acquired several years ago by a group of Sioux Falls investors as part of the Bird Dog Equity Partners portfolio of companies under the name Excellus Communications LLC, doing business as Snapfon.
Last summer, they relocated the business to Sioux Falls and used office space at the Zeal Center for Entrepreneurship.
“I had just moved back to the area and didn’t really know many people, so I ended up at a big-box store looking at some desks and things and thought, ‘This is not right. It’s all stuff for your home.’ It really wasn’t commercial grade,” Strandell said.
It led him to walk into Interstate Office Products, where interior designer Erica Endres was waiting.
“It was by chance I’d gotten up when he walked in, and it’s funny because we connected right away as both Watertown natives,” Endres said. “I just remember they were really excited to be looking at furniture.”
No matter what size the business is, IOP takes the same approach.
“Clients receive the same experience and full design capabilities regardless,” said IOP executive vice president Kristi Christensen. “So even from the initial consult, Erica did design layouts for them, and it didn’t matter what level of product they might end up buying.”
Strandell, who has a background in architecture, appreciated the approach.
“I had a lot of experience working with interior designers and knew I wanted to work with a person like that, and Erica ended up being great,” he said. “She put together a 3D visualization to give us a sense of how things would fit into that space.”
He left with initial workstations that fit his budget and offered him the commercial-grade product he wanted for the startup office.
The original Snapfon office at Zeal.
“It’s really nice and not very expensive, so when we moved into our new space, I was able to save the desks and that opened up the budget,” Strandell said.
By the summer of 2020, Snapfon had grown to 10 full-time employees, including six in the Sioux Falls office, and it was time to move out of the incubation stage and into its own standalone office.
That building at 27298 Wetland Road in Harrisburg offers both office and warehouse space for Snapfon’s growing product line.
“Early in 2020 when COVID really started happening, we decided it was best to get the warehouse and all our customer service functions moved up here just to have more ability to manage it, with COVID being hard on travel. Interstate had done a good job building out our small space, so when we decided to move up, we got them to come check out the new space,” Strandell said.
His goal was to design the office in such a way that “when I start bringing in potential employees, they see this nice furniture and setup, and think it will be a good place to work,” he added.
Endres helped reposition the company’s desks in private offices and then created a large workspace divided into quadrants for customer service staff.
“This wasn’t wasted product by any means,” Endres said. “We were able to break the pieces apart and reuse them to complete the offices. They invested in something, and we got to add more, but this time around we used a Steelcase product, which was exciting for them and for me.”
The new Steelcase product is designed for startup companies, “and the cool thing is you can add different parts and pieces over time,” Endres said. “It’s a benching system, and you can manually raise desks to standing or seated with the right parts. There are many ways to configure, customize and expand the product as they grow and change.”
Other add-ons include lights and screens, so the space can change and grow with the workforce.
IOP integrated acoustical barriers between the desks and on the walls because many employees will be talking on the phone throughout the day.
“We used a new acoustical tile product and did a design that added not only a functional side to the space but some visual interest to the wall, so it brought both form and function,” Endres said.
The little touches are here too. The design ties together Snapfon’s brand colors even down to the edge of a collaborative marker board and shelving to display its products.
“And it gives it this adult feel I think they were craving,” Endres said. “I’m really proud of it, and it was a fun project.”
“The office shows how IOP can work with businesses of all sizes to create custom spaces and support their growth,” Christensen added.
“What stuck with me was their excitement over not only being able to buy quality product but really brand their space,” she said.
“When you walk in, you know you’re in Snapfon. It’s dramatic but not super expensive. The wall treatments and coloration of furniture is all completely focused on them. Even as a small startup company growing into a bigger space, it was still fully branded. They didn’t have to cut corners on what their image was to the public.”
Now that the company has moved into its new office, “I think it’s been a hit,” Strandell said.
“We’ve moved into the space and got it all fitted out. We’ve also developed two new products and have brand-new pricing on our plans, and we’re working on new partnerships with vendors. We’re really excited about this next year, and we’ve got the office we need to support our growth.”
To learn more about how Interstate Office Products can meet your office needs in the Sioux Falls area and beyond, visit i-o-p.com or call 605-339-0300.
From startup incubator to brand-new office, this growing company is set up for growth with help from a flexible approach to its office design.