BOULDER — Prepping for growth that is to be fueled in part by a recent investment from Intel, Boulder-based laser manufacturer KMLabs has sold its building and is planning a June move to a larger location.
The 20,000-square-foot space the company will lease at 4775 Walnut St., cofounder and CEO Henry Kapteyn said Friday, will give the 30-person company room to add another 20 or 30 employees as it ramps up over the next two years.
As your business grows and matures, it is almost inevitable you will ask yourself whether to buy or lease space from which to operate. Here are a few key considerations when making this decision.
KMLabs closed this month on the $4.55 million sale of its building at 1855 S. 57th Court to Boulder firm Element Properties, which is planning roughly $2 million in renovations and upgrades to attract new office users.
KMLabs’ current two-story building is about 31,000 square feet. But the company uses only about half of that and leases out the rest to other companies.
Kapteyn said his company considered doing a renovation of its current building to accommodate its growth, but ultimately decided building out a new space and then making a quick move was a better route.
“And the market for real estate is strong right now, so we got a good price,” said Kapteyn, whose company bought the building in 2007 for $2.6 million.
Another major reason for the move, Kapteyn said, is that the new building has some high-bay space that the current building doesn’t offer. That space will help facilitate buildout of a 5,000-square-foot clean room. KMLabs’ current clean room, Kapteyn said, is at its “end-of-life” stage.
KMLabs makes custom laser systems for research applications that it sells mostly to universities and research institutions.
The company landed a $5.5 million Series A round of funding last fall that was led by Intel, with participation from Denver-based The Colorado Impact Fund. The Intel investment, Kapteyn said, will spur development of a new generation of laser sources at much shorter wavelengths than has been available to the semiconductor industry in the past. Lasers made by KMLabs would likely be sold, he said, to integrators that make tools used for semiconductor fabrication.
KMLabs, Kapteyn said, does between $5 million and $10 million in sales per year right now, with projected growth of 20 percent to 30 percent per year as the company builds due to the recent investment.
As for KMLabs’ current home in Flatiron Park, Scott Holton of Element Properties said his company will target the creative office market. Renovations to the building will include adding employee amenities, bringing in more light, enhanced breakroom space and added bike parking.
CW Botanicals, Advanced MicroBubbles Laboratories, and Sibelloptics all lease space from KMLabs and will be moving out sometime in the second quarter. Holton said he expects renovations to be finished during the third quarter.
As space dwindles and rents soar in downtown Boulder, more and more members of the city’s technology scene have moved their companies to the east side of town to places such as Flatiron Park — a migration that, coupled with the addition of restaurants and craft breweries to the area, has helped create a sense of place.
“The center of gravity is shifting east for sure, whether it’s companies looking for a little more space or better value,” Holton said.