Guardian Life moves out of its North Side campus
Company leases full floor in office building on HollandMay 11th, 2017
Guardian Life Insurance Co. of America, based in New York, says it has relocated all of the employees formerly housed in its 99,800-square-foot facility at 777 E. Magnesium on Spokane’s North Side, and has listed that sprawling 32-acre campus for sale.
The largely landscaped campus, where Guardian has been operating for nearly 30 years, occupies most of the land between Nevada and Dakota streets and Magnesium Road and Jay Avenue, south of a 93,000-square-foot WinCo Foods Inc. store at 9257 N. Nevada that opened in 2009.
The company has leased the entire 33,000-square-foot top floor of the three-story, 100,000-square-foot Northpointe Office Building, at 605 E. Holland, a short distance north of its Magnesium Road campus, and moved its Spokane employees there May 1. The lease also included about 4,000 square feet of space on the building’s second floor.
“The transition went very smoothly, and the employees are happy with the new location,” said Andrew Schwartzberg, Bethlehem, Pa.-based vice president of corporate real estate for Guardian, who couldn’t be reached by phone, but responded to a number of questions about the transaction via email.
Schwartzberg said employees were moved to the Northpointe Office Building after extensive remodeling had been completed there to create “a light, bright environment with an open plan with ample collaborative spaces.”
Of the reason for the move, he said, “We feel delivering amazing spaces fuels collaboration and innovation and helps attract and retain the best talent. Our 777 E. Magnesium site had a dated fit and was larger than we needed for our office footprint in Spokane.”
He said, “As a result of this project, a number of the jobs moved off-campus and employees are working from home in the region” under what the company calls its Guardian on the Go program. He added, “Moving to a new location provided an opportunity to refresh the space and help us optimize the real estate portfolio.”
Guardian Life representatives declined to say exactly how many people the company employs here, contending the work-from-home program made the number difficult to calculate. However, Chris Bornhoft, a broker with Windermere Manito Commercial who represented the Northpointe building ownership group in the lease negotiations, says the company wanted to secure more than 200 parking stalls there for its employees.
Bornhoft says Guardian Life took over space at Northpointe that FLSmidth Spokane Inc. had occupied until last July. FLSmidth Spokane, whose operations formerly had been part of longtime Spokane concern RAHCO International Inc., wanted out of its lease, and Guardian agreed to take over the space, he says.
Schwartzberg said Guardian’s Spokane operation supports its group and worksite insurance markets by providing dental claims, customer service response, and new business and benefits service processing functions.
Guardian opened an operation in Spokane in 1986 and moved to the building on Magnesium in late 1988. A year later, with its workforce here having risen to 300, its top executive here was predicting that it eventually would employ 1,100 people here.
At that time, the operation here was underwriting and paying claims on group insurance policies sold in 15 Western states, and was handling about one-third of the company’s individual-lines insurance.
By late 1998, Guardian employed nearly 600 full-time and 100 temporary workers here and was so cramped for space in the building on Magnesium that it agreed to lease a then-new 14,000-square-foot building at the nearby Cedar Creek Village apartment complex to ease the overcrowding, archived Journal stories show. In subsequent years, though, the company’s employment level began to decline.
It doesn’t appear to have any intention of pulling out of the Spokane market, though. Its lease at Northpointe is for 10 years and includes renewal options.
Guardian employs about 8,800 people companywide and has a network of more than 2,700 financial representatives in 58 agencies around the country. Its offerings range from life insurance, disability income insurance, annuities, and investments, to dental and vision insurance and employee benefits.
The company claims to be one of the largest mutual life insurers, with $7.4 billion in capital and $1.5 billion in operating income last year, before taxes and dividends to policyholders. It says it had $66.5 billion in assets under management as of the end of last year.
As a mutual company, it is owned by its policyholders. Founded in 1860, it has paid dividends to policyholders every year since 1868.