The Coworker is a new weekly series by MTLinTECH that spotlights one Montreal coworking space every Tuesday.
About 35 years ago Pierre Pettigrew opened a shared office space for professionals in Quebec City. He was just 20 years old. The ambitious space had a secretary, a fax machine (which was big at the time, laughs Pettigrew) and a large telephone system. It couldn’t have quite been called “coworking,” but it was close.
“I sold the place two years after it started,” Pettigrew told MTLinTECH. “But today the offer is much different. You have to have a space with ambiance, a place where people feel they’re part of something.”
Pettigrew is now entering his third year in business with Dok Station, the four-floor coworking space on rue Bishop, just north of Rene Levesque. It offers about 55 private offices and 20 to 25 coworking spaces with a capacity to house 175 people. The environment is one that mixes tech startups with established businesses in a range of industries.
Last week was a good week for the space. It held an event in celebration of a new expansion within the same building that will double office capacity.
The expansion will see Dok Station take over the basement and ground-floor levels of the building it owns, valued at $5 million, which it had previously leased to a restaurant. The new renovations are almost complete now. Dok Station will offer 25 brand new offices along with a mini-gym and an outside patio. About seven of those offices on the first floor have already been rented while the basement is still nearing completion.
Pettigrew expects the entire building to be at full capacity by the end of 2017, particularly since all of Dok Station’s available office space has been completely rented for six months now, save for a few spots in the coworking area.
“Dok Station is not really like a regular coworking space,” he told MTLinTECH. “We’re totally private, we never went after funding and it’s all our money. There’s no reason to stop.”
The coworking spaces cost $295 per month, all-in, including free use of Dok Station’s conference rooms. The private offices range from $650 per month and up.
Pettigrew and his partners invested more than $2 million after they bought the building. Prior to opening in late 2013, the partners completely stripped away the interior in the old building, so characteristic of those built within Montreal’s downtown-Concordia area.
But Pettigrew said he knew there was a demand for both private offices and even coworking space in an area of town that includes over 18,000 apartments in a one kilometre radius.
“We’re in downtown Montreal and we own a building worth five million dollars, so we had to generate some revenue. Us Quebecers, we’re independent. In France they’re used to working all together in one room around one big table all day long. Quebecers aren’t used to that. We like to have our space and, if its possible, a door that locks,” he said.
What has resulted has been a nice mix of established businesses and startups. According to Pettigrew, some of Dok Station’s more noteworthy office-renters are pulling in significant revenue through European clients. They in turn end up giving contracts to some of the smaller tech startups.
The future seems bright for Dok Station. Pettigrew is confident in the space’s prospects and as long as his predictions of a full house ring true by 2017, his group will likely look to expand to Ottawa, if not around the world.
“I remember the first day I opened and my first customer rented an office and I was alone in the building with him. We’ve already had our hard days,” said Pettigrew. “There’s no problem in filling our space these days and our turnover is very low. The problem is to make sure we have the place ready for when people move in.”
Have you read the rest of The Coworker series?
Old loft apartment makes for a homey coworking space – September 21
Le Salon 1861 blends history with social impact – September 13
La Gare positions itself in the heart of the action – September 6
Should I stay or should I go? – August 30
Petite Nuwrk has grand visions – August 16
Esplanade creates a familial atmosphere – August 2
Le 402 is small but the price is nice – July 26