HOPKINTON — For the past 15 years, Kevin Hoyle has been quietly building what is now a world class business with offices in Ireland, Australia, Copenhagen, Brockton, Mass., and Wyoming, R.I. Now, he wants to bring his 45 Rhode Island employees together in one place — a new office building at Exit 2 off Interstate 95 in Hopkinton.
Hoyle, a Hopkinton resident, is the owner and chief executive officer of B2BGateway.Net, a company that specializes in electronic data interchange, or EDI. Any company wishing to sell goods to another company must now do so electronically. That’s where B2BGateway.Net (“business to business”) comes in, providing business document transfers.
One of those businesses was the Vizio electronics company of Korea. Back in 2008, it had television sets to sell in America, but it needed help with the process.
“They needed to sell their products in Walmart, Target, all the big box retailers,” Hoyle said. “They were good at making TVs, but they weren’t good at electronic data interchange, because they didn’t know how to do it, so they came to us … So we connected them to every single one of those retailers and they’ve been selling TVs like they’re going out of style.”
Hoyle and his wife, Donna, the company’s human resources director, appeared recently before the Hopkinton Planning Board with a pre-application for a new office complex on the vacant 9-acre site. Part of it had been a gravel bank.
“We’re proposing four buildings,” project engineer Anthony Nenna told Planning Board members. “The surrounding property is residential and commercial. This is almost at the cul de sac of Palmer Circle, and you have 95 that abuts us to the north. So it’s very rural. There’s not a lot of residential property around us.”
Nenna explained that the company planned to first build an 11,000-square-foot building with offices and a data center, and build the other three in phases, as the business grows. The third and fourth buildings may consist of professional offices, which would be rented.
Hoyle said he was approaching the project cautiously, one step at a time.
“We run a business like we run our home. If you have the money, you can spend the money. It’s not like there’s deep pockets that go on forever,” he said. “So what we try to do is build something that’s economically feasible. This company’s been built on that premise from the start. We do not get in debt at all, and unfortunately, getting into a project like this you have to, so we’re trying to start it out small, and as we need the additional space, we’re going to grow into the additional space.”
Hoyle’s plan is to build and pay for each phase of the project as it is needed. Each building would be filled before the next one is built.
“What I don’t want to do is come in and build an 80,000 square foot building, not be able to fill it, have to float the note on it and go broke,” he said.
The B2BGateway.Net project would be one of a growing number of businesses that are locating to Hopkinton. With its proximity to I-95, the town is attracting desirable, high tech companies, and is the home of the successful Hopkinton Industrial Park at Exit 1.
Town Planner Jim Lamphere said that like the industrial park, the B2BGateway.Net project would set the standard for future development in the area.
“They even brought an architect in at the pre-application stage, and they told us how they’re going to go forth with three dimensional drawings of how it’s all going to look. What they showed me at the pre-application stage suggests that they’re going to do this in a very, very high class manner, which is important, because as the chairman of the Planning Board stated, this is the first commercial type project for Exit 2, and it very well could set the tone for development that follows,” Lamphere said.
Town Council President Frank Landolfi said the town was delighted to welcome B2BGateway.Net.
“His company is exactly what Hopkinton wants to attract to our town,” he said. “They are a clean, high tech industry that hopefully will provide numerous employment opportunities and incremental economic benefit to the town of Hopkinton. The company provides the supply chain management between companies that do business with each other. I can also see why they are successful because they save companies money by preventing charge backs and improve the way companies interact with each on purchase orders. Cool stuff. I can’t wait until they relocate.”
Hoyle praised the town for its business-friendly climate.
“It’s very different than what it was several years ago,” he said. “I think that Hopkinton is a bit more pro economic development … I think that the town understands that development will happen. The people who say they want to keep Hopkinton rural and pristine, they should have been speaking up in the 1950s when Route 95 went right through the center of town.”
The next step is the completion and presentation of the development’s master plan to the Planning Board. Hoyle said he was hopeful that employees would be able to move into the first building by the end of the year.
“We hope that if we can get the approvals done through the town by June that they’ll start breaking ground this summer,” he said. “I would be very happy if we moved our staff in before the first of the year. That’s what our team is hoping for. We want to get that consolidation of people back together.”
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