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Jack Henry and Associates to build offices in Springfield

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Two three-story office buildings are being built for Jack Henry and Associates in Springfield by J.E. Dunn Construction of Kansas City. Above is an artist's rendering of the completed Springfield campus from the Casey Architecture firm in Springfield, as viewed from the southeast corner of the property.
Construction is underway on two 75,000-square-foot buildings for Jack Henry and Associates in Springfield. The project is the first major construction effort by the Monett-based firm outside of Monett. According to company officials, the undertaking does not represent a change in commitment about the company's base.

Jack Henry did not have many Springfield employees prior to the acquisition of Banktech about 10 years ago. Jack Prim, chief executive officer for Jack Henry, said acquiring Banktech brought about 120 to 150 more employees to the company.

At present, Jack Henry leases four offices in Springfield where 235 people work. Another 200 employees from the Springfield area commute to Monett. Around 1,200 people work at Jack Henry's offices in Monett presently.

The push to do something different in Springfield intensified last summer when gasoline prices hit record levels. A number of initiatives were tried by Jack Henry around the country, including flex schedules and working from home over the internet.

"Driving two hours a day to work in Monett even when gas prices are good is not the best way to use one's time," Prim said.

Prim anticipated those presently working in Springfield and at least 100 of those who currently commute to Monett would end up in the new Springfield offices. Construction is due to be finished by next June. Decisions on who will end up in Springfield will be made closer to that time.

"We will attempt to accommodate as many people as we can. The job may not lend itself to be done [in Springfield]," Prim said.

Much of the work in Springfield is similar to what is done in Monett, such as software development, support and installation, only on different product lines. Prim said the work can be done in different locations with periodic meetings to coordinate the ongoing effort.

Finding a satisfactory solution for the Springfield location proved difficult as well.

"There are few places to build and fewer to rent," Prim said.

According to Prim, the city of Springfield even offered downtown space, which presented more problems with traffic and parking than seemed worthwhile. Land on the southeast corner of the city, east of Highway 65, was settled upon for the project.

"The neighborhood is glad to see us coming," said Prim. There had been concerns a big box retailer would move in instead. A Jack Henry sign with its website address has been posted on the grounds that shows the rendering of the two three-story buildings and parking lots to be constructed.

Scott Whisman, general manager of corporate services for Jack Henry, said the decision to build was the culmination of two years of planning. The size of the project was based on finances, space efficiencies, structural support and how many people may be working at the site following trends over the next three to seven years. The site encompasses 38.5 acres, which leaves space for future expansion.

"Having something that will appreciate in value as opposed to something where growth is not expected was also considered," Whisman said.

"Company headquarters will still be in Monett," Prim said. "[President] Tony Wormington, [Chief Financial Officer] Kevin Williams and myself are not moving to Springfield. There's definitely not a plan to phase out Monett for Springfield. We can better leverage our resources here."

An increase in jobs in Springfield is likely because, as Prim put it, some jobs are easier to recruit for in Springfield than in Monett. There are no more plans pending for adding more buildings to the Monett campus either.

There are nonetheless potential changes at the Monett campus as company officials look at what positions could fill the desks opened as at least 100 employees move to Springfield. Prim said parts of Jack Henry's business do not require significant technical or banking backgrounds and would lend themselves to Monett's facilities.

According to Prim, Jack Henry has operations at other locations, such as fraud monitoring on ATM transactions done in Houston, Texas, or tracking remote deposits for merchant customers done in Dallas, Texas, that could be done for less expense in Monett. Both lines have seen substantial growth.

"We have no firm plans yet. Definitely if we can attract the right talent, Monett is a good option," Prim said. "We're not in a booming growth industry. The number of banks and credit unions erodes 2 to 3 percent a year. There are still 16,000 banks and credit unions still out there, a good market for our products."

Prim said vendors have consolidated over the last 20 years just as the business of providing services to community banks and credit unions has centralized in a handful of major firms like Jack Henry. Nonetheless, Jack Henry continues to look for acquisition opportunities and new product offerings.

"We're third in the size of top competitors," Prim said. "We could buy more firms, but they wouldn't add a lot in return for what we would have to pay for them. For a company that's been in business for 33 years, we've got a pretty complete product line. We look at businesses adjacent to what we're doing for future growth opportunities.

"I feel better looking ahead at the next 12 months than looking back at the last 12 months," Prim said.

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