Business

Democratic donor Dean Debnam expands his company's footprint in northeast Raleigh

One of the Workplace Options buildings in the Highwoods Office Park that has been renovated by the company.
One of the Workplace Options buildings in the Highwoods Office Park that has been renovated by the company. Courtesy of Workplace Options

Dean Debnam, the CEO of Workplace Options and an influential political donor in Wake County, is expanding his company’s footprint in northeast Raleigh.

Workplace Options, a fast-growing Raleigh company that specializes in support services to workers around the world, is slowly expanding its small corporate campus in the Highwoods Office Park.

With its latest purchase — the $1.7 million purchase of an office building at 2900 Highwoods Blvd. — Debnam’s company now owns seven buildings in the office park.

It also is under contract on an eighth building at 3125 Poplarwood Court.

2900_Highwoods_Exterior.jpg
Workplace Options recently purchased this building at 2900 Highwoods Blvd. It is the seventh building the company has bought in the Highwoods Business Park. Courtesy of Workplace Options

Some of those seven buildings are just investment vehicles for the company, as it is trying to consolidate its roughly 400 employees into fewer buildings.

Workplace Options employees now occupy four of the seven buildings, but after the company redevelops one of the buildings from a 25,000 square foot building into a new 66,000 square foot main headquarters, it will only need three buildings.

“We believe that this is where Raleigh's coming. There is only so much space in downtown and in midtown,” Debnam said of the investment. “And Raleigh’s (growth) certainly isn’t slowing down," especially if either Apple or Amazon locates here.

“This location between Capital Boulevard and Atlantic Avenue and directly next to the beltline is hard to beat for convenience for getting in and out of downtown,” he added.

The site also provides Workplace Options flexibility to expand and contract as needed.

Debnam said it can be difficult to balance how much office space it needs because of the nature of its work. If it lands a big contract its numbers could swell and so would its need for more space — but that could also work in reverse.

Owning several buildings that it can lease out or use gives it much needed flexibility, he said.

Debnam also owns Public Policy Polling and Ultimate Supplies, a manufacturer of equipment for car washes. A longtime mover and shaker in local politics, Debnam made waves in the most recent local election, as two of the four candidates he backed in the Democratic primary for Wake County Commissioners ousted two incumbent commissioners.

Debnam has been CEO of Workplace Options since 1993 when the company, which was founded by his ex-wife Stephanie Fanjul, had three employees and focused on business consulting.

Workplace Options is now one of the largest employee assistance providers in the United States, handling services for more than 90,000 organizations in the world. Its services include virtual group counseling, a rapid response crisis hotline, aging life care coaching, lactation assistants, wellness coaching, health screenings and other services.

Debnam said revenue at Workplace Options is approaching $100 million this year, and the company is looking to grow aggressively in Raleigh.

Zachery Eanes: 919-419-6684, @zeanes
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