When Jim Cashman joined ANSYS, Inc. about 16 years ago, the engineering simulation software company had just moved from Chartiers Township to its current Southpointe location on Technology Drive with about 200 employees.
When Cashman, the company’s chief executive officer, would stop by the office on weekends with his young children back then, he said there was so much space in the building the children would play soccer on some of the vacant floors.
“Now we’re bursting at the seams, without enough parking or offices,” Cashman told about 60 company and public officials at Thursday’s groundbreaking ceremonies for ANSYS’ new headquarters in the Zenith Ridge development in Southpointe II.
Finding enough offices and parking spaces shouldn’t be a problem for the growing company, as Burns & Scalo showed the beginnings of a 186,000-square-foot, five-story building that ANSYS will occupy next October. The new building will be about 60 percent larger than ANSYS’ current 107,000-square-foot space.
The company, which has more than 450 employees, has been on a growth trajectory for the past several years.
“You may not know who ANSYS is, but the companies we work with have products that touch everyone,” Cashman said, noting that ANSYS software helps engineers and industrial designers develop everything from household electronics to equipment and technology for energy production.
Founded in 1970 by Dr. John Swanson as Swanson Analysis, later renamed ANSYS, the company began at Swanson’s home in Elizabeth, then moved to the Foxpointe development in Chartiers, before moving again in the mid-1990s to Southpointe.
Burns & Scalo Chief Executive Officer Jim Scalo, whose company is developing Zenith Ridge, noted that the complex provides panoramic views of the hills and valleys that make up the local terrain. The three-building complex is visible from Interstate 79.
Scalo’s company has been involved with building projects and leasing in the mixed-use park since 1994. He and others who spoke Thursday recalled Southpointe’s genesis as a public-private partnership forged by Millcraft Investments Chairman Jack Piatt and Washington County commissioner Frank Mascara in the late 1980s.
Scalo noted that the project’s prominence as a business location soared in the mid-1990s, just after state Sen. J. Barry Stout of Bentleyville helped to bring a dedicated exit ramp to the development from Interstate 79.
While Cashman expressed his appreciation for the assistance the company received from Gov. Tom Corbett’s office for its new headquarters project, Mike Cortez, senior advisor to the secretary of the state Department of Community and Economic Development, said it was ANSYS that deserved to be at center stage for Thursday’s ceremonies.
“It’s not the administration that creates the jobs, it’s companies like ANSYS that create the jobs,” Cortez said.
That potential for job growth is apparent in the sheer number of construction projects that were visible Thursday in the Southpointe II development, from ANSYS and Mylan Inc.’s new headquarters buildings to several other office buildings and the Town Center retail-and-office complex.
“It’s a great problem to have when you’re driving to a groundbreaking” and have to discern which construction project is the correct destination, noted state Rep. Jesse White, D-Cecil.