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August 31. 2013 3:01AM

Double the size

Dyn creates California-style office environment


Dyn Software Engineer Joe Stelmach works at his new cubicle, with hanging gardens in the background. (DAVE SOLOMON/UNION LEADER)

MANCHESTER -- Let's say you're an up-and-coming software engineer at Dyn, trying to work out a solution for a client like Twitter or CNBC.

You and your manager at one of the state's fastest growing tech firms could talk it over across a desk in the traditionally stilted office environment, or you could bounce ideas off each other while playing Ping-Pong in the game room, knocking in a few golf balls at the indoor putting green, sipping cappuccino in the Dyn Cafe Annex or spotting each other for a few bench presses in the gym.

All of those options have been made possible by a $1 million-plus expansion that doubled the space Dyn occupies at 150 Dow St. in the Manchester Millyard, from 30,000 to 60,000 square feet.

There are plenty of new work stations for Dyn's growing number of employees, not to mention hanging gardens, original murals and a small movie theater.

In a project that began in January, the company completely refurbished the first floor of the building in which it occupied the second floor, creating a two-level, integrated work space to accommodate expected growth to 300 employees by the end of this year.

The company, which manages network services, Internet traffic, email delivery and email reporting for more than 4 million business and personal clients, now has 235 employees with posted openings for another 80, according to Media Relations Manager Adam Coughlin.

Stirring creativity

Prior to the expansion, Dyn had about 200 employees crowded into a space built for 160 to 170. That second-floor space had already been featured in local media and the trade press for amenities such as arcade games, a rock climbing wall, a deck overlooking the Merrimack River and a private restaurant.

The new space doubles down on that philosophy, with white masonry painted to look like red brick, new entrances from Dow or Commercial streets and a solarium leading to a new cafe.

A conference center with space for 300 and a theater with seating for 50 are designed for internal training, product launches, community events and the occasional movie night.

It's all designed to help Dyn attract the best and the brightest in the competitive employment market for high-end technical talent, while creating an environment in which they can do their most creative work, Coughlin said.

"Some of our best ideas come to us on the golf course or in the movie theater," he said while trying his hand on the putting green. "We're trying to replicate those experiences to get the creative juices flowing."

The putting green in particular helps push egos aside. "It's a very humbling game," Coughlin said, as his custom-made Dyn golf ball rolled slightly to the right of the hole in an area highlighted by floor-to-ceiling murals of famous New Hampshire golf courses, created by students from the New Hampshire Institute of Art.

A recruiting tool

"We see not only the Dyn culture, but our space as a recruiting tool," said Paul Mailhot, vice president of business operations and clerk of the works for the expansion, which exceeded the company's $1 million estimate, although he declined to say by how much.

The amenities at the Dyn international headquarters are unusual in New Hampshire, but not that unique in an industry that requires constant innovation and a workforce not wedded to a time clock.

"This environment we've created is very typical in California, but not in the Northeast," said Mailhot, currently chairman of the state's High Tech Council. "As more tech companies locate and expand in New Hampshire, this type of environment will become more common."

Mailhot, who worked with tech firms in Marin County and San Francisco, said the space planning and design for the expansion was influenced by several locations he's worked in or visited, including the Google campus in Boulder, Colo.

As the company continues to grow at a torrid pace, the refurbished Dow Street mill building offers even more room for expansion.

"We're certainly not done yet," Mailhot said. "We're eyeing another 40,000 to 50,000 square feet in the same building. Our intent is to stay here. We enjoy this building and the relationship we have with the landlord and other tenants."

It isn't all fun and games. The original plan for the recently completed expansion called for a playground slide to take employees from one level to the other, but that idea was sacrificed in the interest of more cubicles.

"We're still planning on putting in a slide with a future expansion," Coughlin said.

dsolomon@unionleader.com



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