Born-and-raised Nelsonite Greg Malpass says many of his contemporaries had to roll the dice to come back home and live in the Kootenays. He wants to make sure future Nelsonites don’t have take that gamble and give up their careers to live here.
Malpass is the founder and CEO of Traction on Demand, a Burnaby-based tech company that purchased in January what has been Branch 51 of the Royal Canadian Legion’s home for over 90 years.
“Most of the smart people that I’ve ever known in my life have passed through this town. I don’t know what it is about the water,” said Malpass, speaking to about 50 people at an event last week hosted at the Legion by the Nelson and District Chamber of Commerce. “The core focus of our project will be creating talent in the local community.”
Speaking formally to the business community for the first time since Traction on Demand purchased the building, Malpass said two-thirds of the employees who will make up his workforce of 25 will be local. That’s big news for Nelsonites who want to build careers and not sacrifice the kind of quality of life they’ve become accustomed to living in the mountains. It’s also news that Nelsonites like Malpass, who don’t want to leave home to build careers, will welcome with open arms.
“We’re in a period of labour conversion, where basically every company is becoming a technology company. Organizations need people to understand how this works,” said Malpass. “It’s not necessarily about other service firms or technology companies, it’s about creating people who understand technology who can go and work for brick and mortar businesses.”
Malpass spoke to the Star at length about his decision to open an office in Nelson, his purchase of the building, the state of the renovations, and what his company will work on in the building. He said the work has just started. The top floor, which Traction on Demand will use as its office, has not been occupied for at least 20 years.
Traction on Demand’s starting group of 25 employees in Nelson will be part of a team working with a common set of clients in the higher-education sector. Some of those clients include MIT, Yale, Georgetown University, Simon Frasier University, and the University of British Columbia.
He expects that preliminary number of employees to grow, and said some of those jobs will work their way into salaries of six figures and beyond.
Traction on Demand helps businesses streamline their sales processes by implementing them into a cloud-based operating system. The company currently has 550 employees, and Malpass said it plans to add 300 this year.
Nelson and District Chamber executive director Tom Thomson praised Malpass for his business leadership, and for preserving the history of the storied building.
“The building has a great history and the Legion itself was having trouble staying afloat,” said Thomson. “To have a company come in here and help out like this is just fantastic for the community.”
— Kootenay Business (@kootbusiness) April 1, 2019
The Legion will also continue to call the building home, and recently signed a 20-year lease.