Hot on the heels of Dynasty Financial Services, another financial sector firm has pulled up stakes from New York and headed to St. Petersburg.
CrossBorder Solutions, a $1 billion fintech firm that helps some of the world’s largest companies automate their corporate tax departments, has set up shop at 805 Executive Center Dr. W., on the city’s north side.
Don Scherer, the company’s co-founder and CEO, told the Catalyst it was always his intention to move the company to the west coast of Florida, but St. Pete stood out as the most attractive option for a wide variety of reasons, both professional and personal. Firstly, he’s been visiting the region frequently over the past dozen years because his kids attend IMG Academy in Bradenton, and secondly, that familiarity led him to notice St. Pete’s growing cluster of tech companies — both startups and established firms, like Dynasty, that moved from other parts of the country.
“We knew that more and more companies were coming here, with it being a technology hub,” Scherer said. “We speak all the time to our venture capital and institutional backers. And they said right away that St. Pete, the Tampa Bay area, is where a lot of software companies seem to be heading, especially from the Midwest and the West Coast.”
The Covid-19 pandemic is what really sealed the deal for Scherer. With New York locked down and its residents fleeing for the open spaces of the southeast, he knew he’d be able to find the talent necessary to fuel CrossBorder Solutions’ rapid growth. Founded in 2017, the company has already acquired the business of more than 30 percent of the Fortune 1000, Scherer said.
“We think being here is a big draw, and not just locally,” he said. “It’s drawing people nationally. Florida has become a top destination in this new climate. I have some family members who came down for vacation this week, and they couldn’t find a rental car. There’s a reason for that.”
Scherer said the firm plans to hire a total of 300 people over the next six to nine months and has already boosted its workforce to 120. “We find really high-quality staff here,” he said. “It’s an amazing place for a company to scale.”
CrossBorder Solutions has taken a different approach to the pandemic than some other companies in its line of work, by bringing workers back into the office sooner than later. Being in St. Pete has helped with that, of course, but he said the firm has made major investments in equipment and materials so it can perform rapid Covid-19 tests and temperature screenings on a daily basis. Workers drive up to a testing station in their cars and if their results are positive or they show any other symptoms, they’re sent home.
To promote social distancing in the office, Scherer has also implemented what he calls an “A/B” schedule: “Not everyone comes in every day,” he said. “Some people come in one week, some people come in the other week. We’ve been back in the office for four months now and I don’t think anyone has tested positive.”
Scherer said a return to in-person human connections has been more than worth what the company has spent on testing, screening and other measures.
“It’s allowed people to feel really comfortable back in an office in the new normal,” he said. “There is no limit to the investments we can make to make our employees safe and comfortable. That was the first thing that we said when we were going back to the office: ‘We’re going to spare no expense.’ It was our north star when we were trying to get back into the office. It’s funny, I was just walking around the office today and there was so much happening and there’s people here interacting and milling about and we’re like, ‘Wow, this feels really normal.’ Which is great. I think people are really happy, in some ways, to be out of their houses and back in an office environment.”
St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, in a press release issued by the St. Petersburg Area Economic Development Corp., welcomed CrossBorder Solutions to the Sunshine City, stating, “We have seen a significant influx of technology companies moving to the Sunshine City. This isn’t an accident. Our Grow Smarter strategy is working. It is essential that we continue to attract companies like CrossBorder Solutions that reinforce our commitment to the technology ecosystem here in St. Pete. I want to thank Don Scherer and everyone at CrossBorder Solutions for choosing St. Pete.”