Story and photograph by Pamela Price
This story originally appeared in the Leon Springs Community News, July 2010 edition.
The world of work is changing rapidly. Take for instance the rise of telecommuting, which is increasingly popular not only because employees enjoy the flexibility and convenience it affords but also because entrepreneurs and business owners have discovered it’s budget-savvy.
Trouble is, if you’ve spent your week working in pajamas at your “virtual office,” then your real house isn’t always presentable for clients or teleconferencing. And then there are the inevitable distractions—phone marketers, the doorbell, Facebook, telenovelas—and, perhaps most troublesome, the loneliness one can encounter when stuck at home all day.
“People want to work from home but not ‘be’ at home,” said Bobby Freeman, co-owner of the Dominion Business Center. Freeman opened the company in May with partners Ryan Kohnen and Dennis Stanko, “Sometimes when you’re working from home, you need to get out and see life, conduct some business.”
The Dominion Business Center provides support for folks in that predicament via a cheerful suite of conference-style rooms in a building at 4 Dominion Drive. The bulk of the center’s clients include computer firms, marketing and public relations professionals, entrepreneurs, and consultants. One local title company uses the site now for some closings.
“It’s a professional meeting space where my staff and I can gather. We all run virtual offices most of the time, working from home, coffee shops and restaurants,” said Debi Pfitzenmaier of PfitzPR. “Frankly, I got tired of smelling like coffee, having business meetings at restaurants and, as my business grew, I really didn’t want to continue using my home address as my business address. Dominion Business Center gave me a professional and affordable option. I can host clients there, give presentations and hold face to face brainstorming and collaborative meetings.”
For residents of San Antonio’s Northwest side, the center’s location is handy.
“We’re conveniently located right on the edge of San Antonio traffic, near both 1604 and IH-10. If you’re coming from Boerne, you can arrange to meet with a client and never even go inside 1604. We can also serve as a satellite office, providing our clients with a business address. In San Antonio and surrounding areas, the Leon Springs area—especially The Dominion—is recognized as nice, a touch of the hill country experience,” said Freeman, turning to gesture at the live oaks through the windows. “Besides, how many places in town do you have this many trees?”
Not surprisingly, there are several tables on the suite’s large balcony where telecommuters can type or text in the out-of-doors, side by side. Although the business doesn’t yet meet the strictest definition of a “coworking space,” a popular term for an environment in which work-at-home professionals convene in one location to create a synergistic community, Freeman described it as a “private and professional place where home-based professionals, consultants, and entrepreneurs can meet; that also includes… amenities like coffee, snacks, WiFi, and eliminates the isolated feeling that often comes with working from home.”
Freeman, who grew up in the Leon Springs area and graduated from Boerne High School and St. Mary’s University, said the new business center promotes its own services in traditional (signs, door hangars, direct mail) and modern ways.
“We’ve hosted ‘tweet-ups’ on Twitter, which are mixers. And we’re waiting on approval from Foursquare to feature specials via the site,” Freeman said. “We’ve found that many potential clients have to experience us via networking, both old-fashioned and social media, so they can fully understand what we offer.”
New-fangled though some of the center’s marketing may be, many of the center’s services are decidedly old school. There are faxes, copiers and business books. Access to basic office supplies can be a big help for small, idea-driven companies.
“We think ours is a good business model for the suburbs or smaller communities. You know, there’s an abundance of executive suites near city centers, like near the San Antonio airport,” said Freeman. “We’re similar to that, but we also want to help small businesses grow, become successful, and provide them the tools they need. It’s tough for home-based businesses to get the credibility they deserve. We can help.”