Carfax plans to expand, foster collaboration

Thursday, July 8, 2010 | 8:43 p.m. CDT; updated 8:56 p.m. CDT, Thursday, July 8, 2010

COLUMBIA — Carfax in Columbia plans to expand to create a more open work environment to foster collaboration.

The vehicle history report provider has acquired four acres of land next to its existing data facility at 2031 Maguire Blvd. It is expanding to accommodate natural company growth, Chief Technology Officer Gary Lee said. 

Based on current growth rates, Lee said the company, which currently employs about 145 people, expects to grow by another 45 to 50 employees in the next 3 to 5 years. Computer programmers make up about 75 percent of the company's employees.

The 10,000-square-foot expansion of the building is planned to be constructed on land the company already owns.

“The property we just purchased, we’re using — at least initially — to expand parking into, and then in the future we may build other things on it,” Lee said.

The company is still in the design phases of construction. It is currently working with architect Erik Miller of Peckham and Wright Architects Inc. After the design phase, Carfax plans to put out a bid to general contractors, said Lee.

“We hope to break ground early in 2011 and be into the expansion by September or October 2011,” he said.

Carfax practices a form of software development in which employees work in an open lab environment instead of individual cubicles.

So far Lee says they have “made do” in the original building by opening up some of the walls and cubicles to make more space for collaboration.

“What we’re trying to do is build space that fits that style of programming,” Lee said.

Carfax’s data center in Columbia communicates regularly with its administrative headquarters in Centreville, Va. Lee said he hopes the new expansion will allow employees to have video conferencing right at their desks to communicate with those in Virginia.

Carfax expects to have about 80 million visitors to its website this year. Twenty-nine thousand dealers subscribe to Carfax so they can offer the reports to their customers. 

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