WebLinc comms manager John Forberger was reading about web dev shop’s The 215 Guys misfortune on Technical.ly when he had an impulse to help out his Old City neighbors, whose office was destroyed in a fire Feb. 18.
Soon after, WebLinc program manager F.M. Bonnevier chimed in with a similar thought. He forwarded the story to Forberger and CEO Darren Hill and a prompt arose: maybe the beleaguered seven-person team could set up shop out of one of WebLinc’s Old City offices. Hill signed off.
Much like this reporter did on Monday, Forberger found the company’s number online and dialed the digits. Founder John Rodgers picked up.
“He was really appreciative on the phone but he did say that they had been receiving several offers,” Forberger said. “Even if he didn’t choose WebLinc, it was great to hear that other people had reached out and that they were being cared for and that people weren’t just reading and saying ‘that’s a shame.'”
After a phone chat and a tour of available space, Rodgers and Forberger shook on it: The 215 Guys will be moving in this week to the fourth and fifth floors of the company’s 100 Market St. building, just a brisk five-minute walk away from 239 Chestnut St.
“WebLinc has been very generous,” said Rodgers, cofounder of The 215 Guys alongside Marc Levy and Jeremy Sanchez. “I hope that when we’re in his position, we have the opportunity of paying it forward.”
The terms are open-ended, Forberger said, and there’s no money changing hands. WebLinc moved some staff around between their three locations to accommodate the team, which up till now had been working remotely, out of coffee shops and client offices.
Two days after the fire, The 215 Guys developer Austin Inman started a $10,000 GoFundMe campaign to help offset the damages caused by the fire, estimated to be in the $25,000 to $50,000 range. It has raised over $4,000 thus far, which Rodgers said will go toward setting up a new permanent office.
“Right now we’re just coordinating our processes,” Rodgers said. “Hopefully being in the space will help us find our groove and getting that stride back.”
Rodgers said tech tools will help inform the scouting for a new HQ.
“I’m good with RSS feeds so we’re going to be scouring Craigslist to see price points and use the GoFundMe money,” said the cofounder.
(The 215 Guys and other companies affected by the fire might be able to get special loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). The city’s Commerce Department is in the early stages of surveying impacted businesses to determine their eligibility.)
In the meantime, team morale at the small outfit has weathered the firestorm.
“We have an amazing group of people,” the cofounder said. “We’re almost like family so we’ve come together to support each other.”
For WebLinc, employer to 150 at three Old City spots and a Canada office, accommodating the small company is ultimately about paying it forward.
“Hopefully someone would do this for us,” Forberger said. “This could have been WebLinc, we’ve had these building for years and we’ve never had a fire. You just hope that someone’s going to step up if it happened to you.”
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