Tech firm makes a splash in Farmington
Pluralsight CEO Aaron Skonnard speaks to local business and government leaders at the company's open house at its new offices in Farmington. Pluralsight, an online software development education company, held a grand opening ceremony on Friday, Aug. 1, 2014 in which it announced it will donate its services to all Utah teachers for one year.
Megan Poulsen, a learning advisor, works with customers at Pluralsight in Farmington. Pluralsight, an online software development education company, held a grand opening ceremony on Friday, Aug. 1, 2014 in which it announced it will donate its services to all Utah teachers for one year.ac
Pluralsight CEO Aaron Skonnard introduces his father Ben Skonnard (left) to Gov. Gary Herbert at the company's open house at its new offices in Farmington. Pluralsight, an online software development education company, held a grand opening ceremony on Friday, Aug. 1, 2014 in which it announced it will donate its services to all Utah teachers for one year.
FARMINGTON — With a few snips of giant scissors, CEO Aaron Skonnard and Utah Gov. Gary Herbert marked the grand opening of Pluralsight’s new modernist design offices, and announced a donation supporting all of Utah’s teachers.
“We need to raise the bar when it comes to educational achievement,” Herbert said Friday morning.
Business leaders and public officials from across northern Utah and the governor’s office attended the open house within Station Park, for the company that provides online training for technology and creative professionals.
“Our purpose is to democratize professional training through e-learning online,” Skonnard said.
Skonnard said the company aims to answer the question: How can we take the kind of training that is only available to really affluent companies and make them available to the world?
The company hires industry experts from around the world to create online instructions on various subjects based on software development.
Subscribers pay $29 to use the service. The more an author’s service is used, the more the author makes.
Through Pluralsight’s donation, which the governor said is valued between $5 million and $10 million, Utah educators will receive a free one-year subscription to the company’s online training library
The donation, done in conjunction with the Utah STEM Action Center and the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, extends to all K-12 teachers throughout the state.
The move fits in with Herbert’s initiative to promote science, technology, engineering and math education; STEM is key, he said, to the state’s future economic development.
“Having the Pluralsight catalog will empower our teachers and they will be able to share it with their students,” Herbert said. “Teachers are the ones that spark the interest in learning.
“It will help our teachers become the best they can be … It’s a significant step in the right direction. The teachers are the ones who will give the spark to students to achieve,” Herbert said.
Herbert also used the occasion to tout the importance of education in creating a healthy economy.
“I firmly believe no matter what our issues are they are more easily solved if we have a healthy economy. The foundation for a good quality of life comes from having a healthy economy,” the governor said.
The initiative will hopefully take care of the expected 1 million vacancies in computing jobs expected by 2020.
After the ribbon-cutting ceremony, the dignitaries took a tour of the new offices.
The company moved to the new headquarters from Layton about a month ago, Skonnard said.
Pluralsight’s co-founder said he sees a lot of growth in the area for tech companies, with its proximity to Station Park, access to the FrontRunner and open land for expansion directly west.
Skonnard said his company’s growth signals a shift in high-tech jobs to Davis County.
“We’re giving people skills to have new futures in computer science, IT, creative skills and digital skills. Those things are really powerful … We’re doing it right here from Farmington, Utah,” Skonnard said.
Skonnard said his company has been involved in four major acquisitions in the past year as part of its growth. He suggested there is more to come.
“I’m excited we’re here in Utah and excited we’re here in Davis County and that we can be part of Utah’s phenomenal community. I think about all the great tech that has come out of the state of Utah and I’m honored to be doing it right here in Davis County, which people don’t normally associate with tech — yet. That will change after today,” Skonnard said.
Ogden Mayor Mike Caldwell was one of the dignitaries at the event. He sees a benefit in Pluralsight leading the way for growth in the tech industry in Davis County and in Ogden.
“We in northern Utah don’t see jobs as a border kind of thing; it benefits all,” Caldwell said. “A rising tide raises all ships.”
Pluralsight wants to expand Utah Valley’s Silicon Slopes northward, and with the new headquarters, bring the Silicon Valley aesthetic eastward.
The modern architecture is designed by a San Francisco firm to include elements of dark wood, elevating desks, an open space environment and sustainability certification.
The company also keeps a pair of Tesla electric cars for use by commuters and staff in from out of state, and boasts owning the only existing one-legged ping pong table, which it keeps in its breakroom.
The offices themselves offer room to grow, something much needed by the company, which through mergers and acquisitions, recently expanded to more than 200 employees from about 30.
“We’ve been waiting for this space,” Skonnard said. “We’ve been bursting at the seams for a while.”
Pluralsight offers over 3,000 technical training classes online.
The open house is the latest in a continuing series of events and developments at Station Park, a $250 million development initiated by CenterCal, a development wing of the California State Teachers Retirement System.
Jean Paul Wardy, president of CenterCal, said the company will break ground on a new hotel facility later this year and also said there are plans for the University of Utah to build a new medical facility on the western side of the development. He emphasized Station Park has become a destination development because of community support, and a great piece of property in an ideal location.
Standard-Examiner correspondent Antone Clark contributed to this story.
Contact Jesus Lopez Jr. at 801-625-4239 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @jesuslopezSE and like him on Facebook at facebook.com/JesusLopezSE.