LEWISTON — Four months ago, Grand Rounds announced it would double its Lewiston workforce this year to 200 employees.
On Tuesday, the San Francisco-based company showed where they’ll work: A 46,900-square-foot renovated space in Bates Mill No. 1. Officials also announced they’ll be growing to more than 200 workers by the end of 2019.
“I remember all too well, decades ago, the spindles flying through these walls and the looms busy 24 hours a day, making such iconic products as the George Washington bedspreads and other wonderful Maine brands, and then for decades, too many decades, these buildings have been vacant,” Gov. Janet Mills said standing in the mill’s atrium Tuesday morning. “Now being reinvigorated by a company such as this, I am so pleased to be here, to help welcome the expansion of Grand Rounds.”
Grand Rounds works with large employers helping nearly 5 million employees navigate their health care needs, matching them with doctors and advocating on their behalf.
Companywide, it has 600 employees and clients, including Walmart, Lowe’s, Home Depot and the state of Maine.
Danielle Snow, senior vice president of patient care, is a Lewiston native who first got the company interested in expanding to Lewiston. She said it has 148 employees and expects to grow beyond 200 by the end of the year.
“This (new space) will allow us to continue our growth and allow us to expand up to 400 employees here,” she said, drawing applause. “As a Maine native and Maine girl, I have to tell you I am very excited to see our company continuing to grow and be successful here in Maine, and I’m incredibly grateful for the support we have received from the Lewiston-Auburn community, from the state government, from the education system.”
Grand Rounds opened its Lewiston doors in August 2016 to serve the East Coast market and already occupies 22,150 square feet of renovated space in Bates Mill No. 6.
Company officials hope to spread out into the new space in early 2020.
Auburn developer Tom Platz’s $3.2 million project updating Mill 1 got underway last summer.
Walking the construction site after the formal announcement, Platz said Grand Rounds will occupy the entire fourth floor.
“They’re not only wonderful tenants, they’re a wonderful business for this town,” he said. “They’ve been great to work with.”
As part of the project, previously bricked-over windows have been opened for more light. A few glass walls from the 1800s were saved and the center aisles with massive columns every few feet will become an open-concept workspace.
“When we first came in, all of the woodwork and all of the bricks were lime green or blue, lead-painted from the 1800s,” Platz said. “We’ve come in and sandblast everything, bring it down to its natural state and then we seal it, that’s all that’s been done on this floor. It’s all original beams and columns.”
He said, in total, roughly 90,000 of Mill 1’s 180,000 square feet will have been renovated after the space is ready for Grand Rounds.
During the morning announcement, Snow was joined by a panel of Grand Rounds employees, two of whom followed the company from San Francisco.
“The key driver for me in relocating to Maine was cost, of course,” said Nyada Batieste, a care coordinator manager. “I always commuted my whole life, even in elementary school, so having the ability to live on Lisbon Street, walk over to work, is priceless for me. For people interested, you just have to take that chance. For me, it’s opened up so many doors.”
Rob Pereira, information technology lead, said he and his wife had gotten tired of the traffic, crowds and “craziness” of Silicon Valley.
“To be perfectly honest, Maine welcomed us with red carpets, not just professionally, but personally,” Pereira said. “We were able to buy a house — the affordability here is fantastic. The neighborhood is amazing, everyone I work with is amazing, just the vibe coming into work is just so different in the office here.”