The mobile device management company AirWatch was founded in 2003. The Sandy Springs-based company now claims more than 3,000 customers in retail, financial services, healthcare, government, distribution, education, hospitality, manufacturing, telecommunications and transportation.
AirWatch Chairman Alan Dabbiere joined the company in 2006. Before that, Dabbiere founded Manhattan Associates, a supply-chain executive software company that went public in 1998. Ernst & Young named him the Southeast Industry Entrepreneur of the Year in 1999.
On Jan. 25, AirWatch announced that over the next six months, it planned to add about 800 jobs, most of them at its Sandy Springs headquarters.
Reporter Newspapers posed some questions to Dabbiere about AirWatch and its growth and high-tech businesses in the Perimeter area.
Q. What convinced you to locate AirWatch in Sandy Springs and the Perimeter area?
A. AirWatch is a fast-growing business in mobile security and management. Our customers can be every business that uses a phone, from five to 100,000 mobile devices. Given this rapid growth and opportunity, Sandy Springs is an area where we can attract technology talent from the greater Atlanta area.
Q. AirWatch has grown from 150 employees to 1,000 employees in about two years, with about 650 of your employees located in Sandy Springs. How many employees do you think AirWatch will have working in Sandy Springs and worldwide in five years, or 10 years?
A. With our rapid growth, we expect we could double our employment in the next year to over 1,000 employees. In five to 10 years, we could grow to 3,000 to 5,000 employees in the area.
Q. What does the Perimeter area have to offer to high-tech businesses? What does the area need in order to attract more high-tech businesses?
A. The area offers a friendly business climate and an ideal location to draw from the high-tech talent that resides everywhere from the northern suburbs to the downtown city area. The MARTA station makes it easy for commuters, and, to some extent, proofs us against future congestion.
Q. What’s the biggest hurdle your company faces at present?
A. Expanding our employee base at more than 100 percent year-over-year growth creates good challenges. We have to be flexible in terms of management of growth, facilities, training and hiring the workforce.
Q. During the recent press conference at your headquarters, you called Georgia “the kind of place you want to build a company” and said you might not have been able to build your business as effectively elsewhere. Why is that?
A. Georgia has such a high quality of work force. Their loyalty to companies, combined with a cosmopolitan city environment where you can recruit from anywhere in the world, creates the perfect situation. The Atlanta airport allows employees and customers to travel anywhere in the world, which can’t be beat. We find the Georgia business climate, with the continual support from the governor, the city and the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, a huge competitive advantage for our growth strategy.