3BG set to make move to Landing

April 23rd, 2019

By Sherry Slater | The Journal Gazette

3BG Supply Co. officials today will announce plans to move the local technology and distribution business to The Landing, taking up residence at 122 Columbia St.

The local company's founders also will announce they've secured a multimillion-dollar investment from Plymouth Growth Partners of Ann Arbor, Michigan, and additional investment by Elevate Ventures of Indianapolis.

Today's announcement is the first in a series of tenant commitments The Landing's developer, The Model Group, expects to make in coming days.

The Fort Wayne Downtown Development Trust chose the Cincinnati-based developer in early 2016 to revitalize seven historic buildings on West Columbia Street and construct one new building for the mixed-use project estimated at $32 million. The area has historically been a downtown commercial and entertainment district.

3BG will occupy 5,000 square feet of the new building's upper floors with an option to expand. Utopian Coffee, a local coffee roaster, will operate a coffee bar on the first floor. A brewery and BBQ restaurant, a previously announced collaboration between Caleb France of Cerulean and Brendon Maxwell, who owns Utopian Coffee, is also in the works.

Shane Araujo, co-founder of 3BG, short for 3 Bald Guys, said the company is responding to today's workers, who don't like to be tied to a desk. That's why he embraces leasing space in a building with downstairs neighbors that provide employees places to go for lunch and hang out after work.

3BG has also opted to develop the building's rooftop, allowing employees to work outside on pleasant days.

“As a venture backed, high-growth technology company it was only natural that we wanted to create a working environment that's conducive for attracting top talent,” 3BG co-founder Alex Smith said in a statement.

3BG, which employs 21 and is recruiting for seven open positions, is expanding rapidly. Plans call for creating about 50 new jobs in the next two to three years. Wages range from $60,000 to $100,000 a year for the positions, Smith said in an interview.

Smith declined to say how much the company is investing to make the move this summer from its current location on Berry Street. He also declined to put an exact dollar amount on Plymouth Growth Partners' Series A round investment. The Series A round is the first significant outside investment that typically is rewarded with preferred stock in the company.

Brook Critchfield, a partner in Plymouth, said 3BG has an innovative approach that focuses on customer needs. As a result, he said, the company is growing quickly in “a market that is ripe for innovation.”

“The team's deep experience base in this industry gives them an advantage in delivering value to 3BG's large and growing customer base,” Critchfield said in an email, referring to Araujo's years spent working for his family's business before launching 3BG.

Founded in 2010, 3BG is a technology-enabled distribution company for industrial maintenance, repair and operations products such as bearings, motors, sprockets and chains, among other products. The firm creates a one-stop online shop for customers.

Bobby Maly, The Model Group's chief operating officer, said 3BG is a good fit for the redeveloped block.

“We believe The Landing wants to be Fort Wayne's home for entrepreneurship,” he said in an email. “Adding one of the hottest homegrown tech companies to The Landing community is adding great fuel to the energy we already see.”

Maly referred to plans for the coffee bar and neighboring brewery and BBQ restaurant.

“People like Caleb France, Brendon Maxwell, and now the 3BG team all passionately care about Fort Wayne's rebirth,” he said. “They invest their time and energy to making the city better outside their businesses.

“We think The Landing is clearly becoming a place for like-minded entrepreneurs, and this will organically produce a special energy at The Landing block.”

Mayor Tom Henry, who has supported the local development since its earliest stages, applauded the announcement.

“The Landing is going to be spectacular, and I can't wait for the official opening later this year,” he said in a statement.

“I want to congratulate Model Group and 3BG Supply Co. Having an additional mixed-use development in the heart of Fort Wayne will help continue the positive momentum and growth we're experiencing in our community.”