LATHAM — One of the region’s larger employers finally cut the ribbon Tuesday on the new headquarters it began to move into 15 months ago.
Goldman Sachs Ayco Personal Financial Management’s new building off Route 9R in Latham totals 149,000 square feet and will seat 1,100 employees with plenty of elbow room. Construction started in the summer of 2018 and wrapped up in summer of 2020, right when many Americans were shunning their offices by choice or necessity due to the COVID pandemic.
“We opened in July of last year and we would’ve loved to have had this ceremony last summer, but we couldn’t,” Ayco CEO Larry Restieri said Tuesday.
Remote working and rotating shifts of on-site working were the norm in 2020. But as the COVID vaccine became more widely available and Ayco consolidated its two other Capital Region locations, more employees began to work on site.
“As things opened up we were able to get more and more people here,” Restieri said. Coming back to work in a brand new, bright space with walls of glass created a momentum of its own, he added: “Once people started to come in, the buzz started to grow. People love the building and working in it.”
It’s a different place from either the old Latham office or the Saratoga Springs office.
“The big change is, all the offices are on the interior of the building. So every floor you walk on has wide-open views,” Restieri said.
An on-site solar array provides 60% of the electrical needs for the building, which was built to high industry standards for energy-efficient design.
The building is occupied by Ayco through a long-term lease with the developer, Schenectady-based Galesi Group, which spent $45 million to construct it on a site that for decades was home to the old Starlite Music Theatre, aka the Colonie Coliseum.
Galesi Group spent millions more to build Coliseum Drive between routes 9 and 9R, to relieve traffic congestion that was expected to worsen when office buildings were built on site.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the founding of what was known as Ayco Planning Services in 1971 and was later acquired by Goldman Sachs in 2003.
It has vacated its offices on British-American Boulevard, also in Latham. The Saratoga Springs office will operate with fewer employees as part of a small network of satellite offices nationwide.
Ayco requires those who work onsite in the new Latham headquarters to be vaccinated but has not at this point mandated that all its employees stop working remotely.
Parent company Goldman Sachs this year has pressed to end remote working by its employees, and Restieri says there is a real benefit to in-office work. However, Ayco is remaining flexible.
“We do recognize also that people need more flexibility right now,” he said, “because everybody’s adjusting, whether it’s schools, whether it’s eldercare.”
Restieri said Ayco has not had the problem other employers have complained of — employees staying home to collect unemployment benefits that exceed the net take-home pay they would earn by working.
The challenge to fill positions, he said, is “only in the sense that we are a growing business, and there is a war for talent out there. Retention is one of the biggest challenges facing every employer — that’s not limited to us. That’s the battle we’re all facing, just retaining your best talent. I think we’ve done a good job but it’s something we focus on every day.”
Now is as important a time as any to maintain the workforce: Ayco provides investment management and other financial services to the HR departments of its client companies, and employees of those companies seek advice directly from Ayco.
When the stock markets are fluctuating or there’s talk of major tax changes, those employees seek advice more often.
“[Our] people are working hard — a lot of calls come in,” Restieri said. “In a frothy market, [clients] want to know what they should be doing. With everything that’s going on in Washington, financial planning is important, and it’s front and top of mind especially for corporate executives. If anything, the need for our services is elevated.”
Reach John Cropley at [email protected], 518-395-3104 or @cropjohn on Twitter.