Biz Beat

Modesto tech company moves downtown, hopes to lure more high-paying tech jobs to city

In a perfect world, downtown Modesto would work like that baseball field in the Iowa cornfield. If you build it, they will come.

That’s what Datapath, a Modesto tech company specializing in managed IT services and network security, is hoping will happen with its move to J Street. The business is taking over the former space of Wardens Office Products, which moved to a new location earlier this year.

Started in 2005 by Modesto natives David Darmstandler and James Bates, Datapath now has 55 employees across two locations — its lower McHenry Avenue headquarters and a Fresno satellite office. With the relocation to downtown, the company will be expanding its footprint as well as its workforce.

And, in the long run, they want their new high-profile location to attract other tech companies and tech workers to the area.

“We’re hoping to inspire other companies to move that direction, both to Modesto proper and other places in the valley,” said Datapath co-founder and CEO Darmstandler. “It’s a very accessible town. You can live near good schools, get to work quickly, walk to food. We’re also hoping to inspire people to get into tech here.”

The first step will be completely remodeling the 21,000-square-foot building, which the company purchased earlier this year. Datapath will take over the two-story, 13,000-square-foot former main showroom suite. The corner suite will also be renovated and then leased to another possibly tech or community-related business, Darmstandler said.

The new headquarters for Datapath is currently under construction Wednesday November 6, 2019 on J street in downtown Modesto, Calif. The space is the former location of Warden’s. Joan Barnett Lee

He said they plan to have the work completed by January or February of next year, and then move into their new headquarters. The company owns its current 6,000-square-foot space at the corner of McHenry and Stoddard avenues, and they plan to lease it out to another business as well.

Their new headquarters will have a large security operations center, which is the fastest-growing part of the company. And, much like their well-known tech counterparts in the Bay Area, they hope to be a big, visible presence in the city. That will include a large video wall, which can be seen from the street, monitoring security risks and other data 24/7.

“We want to make a statement with a big security center in downtown Modesto,” Darmstandler said. “If we can get on the radar of these large Silicon Valley security companies, that makes a big difference. The Bay Area looks at us like a little brother or messed-up cousin. But other tech companies (that have moved here) love it, love the people hired. The more companies that come, the more talent will be here. We want to be a technology hub.”

Datapath has seen significant growth in its network security business, specializing in working with K-12 school districts. Darmstandler said student data is worth five times as much on the dark web, because they don’t have credit histories and are easier to exploit for identity theft. The company’s network security side has grown over 600 percent the last two years, and is expected to surpass their managed solutions side in the next five years.

Datapath owners David Darmstandler (left) and James Bates are pictured Wednesday November 6, 2019 in the company’s new headquarters currently under construction on J street in downtown Modesto, Calif. Joan Barnett Lee

To do that, Datapath hopes to ramp up hiring before the move and add another roughly 15 to 20 employees. They have space in the new location to grow to more than 80 staff members. Darmstandler said the high-earning network security jobs they have available can rival Silicon Valley wages, ranging from $75,000 to $100,000 a year. They also have jobs in marketing and sales and other positions within the company.

The J Street building has been demolished down to the wood studs. The work has revealed the building’s original arched beam ceiling, which they plan to leave exposed in the new design. Outside, they want to commission a large mural for its 14th Street side. Darmstandler and Bates said they were excited to give modern life to the old building, which since 1949 has been home to a number of home furnishing businesses, starting with Culver Furniture and ending with Warden’s.

Warden’s and its big blue awning had been a mainstay on J Street for 45 years, and has been in business in the city since 1965. This July, they consolidated their downtown storefront and warehouse/outlet space to a new building in north Modesto just off Kiernan Avenue on Technology Drive.

Elsewhere around the Business Beat:

It’s beginning to feel a lot more like Christmas at Modesto’s Vintage Faire Mall, because Santa is about to arrive.

HGTV’s Santa HQ at Vintage Faire opens at 10 a.m. Friday, Nov. 8, at the Modesto mall. The interactive exhibit includes the traditional photos with Santa Claus, as well as augmented reality experiences that allow them to transform into elves or explore the toy workshop. There are special events planned through the holiday season as well.

Vintage Faire Mall is one of a dozen shopping centers across America to partner with HGTV for a Santa HQ. The exhibit is open 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday to Saturday and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday through November, and then daily starting in December.

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Marijke Rowland writes about new business, restaurant and retail developments. She has been with The Modesto Bee since 1997 covering a variety of topics including arts and entertainment. Her Business Beat column runs multiple times a week. And it’s pronounced Mar-eye-ke.
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