Vonage Holdings Corp., the nation's largest Internet telephone company, expects to move its offices to Holmdel, where it hopes to employ about 2,000 workers by the end of the year, a company spokesman said.
The move would make Vonage one of the Shore's largest employers.
The company, which now has 1,000 employees, has outgrown its offices on Route 27 in Edison, Vonage spokesman Jamie Serino said. "We are working right on top of each other," he said.
The company is "close" to signing a lease for an office building in Holmdel, Serino said. He would not identify the location, but he said it would have space for another 1,000 employees the company expects to hire this year.
Joseph Sarno, senior director at Cushman & Wakefield of New Jersey, believes Vonage will move into the former Prudential Property & Casualty Insurance Co. building, a two-story 358,932-square-foot office building on 88 acres on Route 520.
"This is a big shot in the arm for the Monmouth County office market and also for the businesses and community of Holmdel to say the least," said Sarno, a Holmdel resident. "That building was looming as another big empty building in the Monmouth County market."
Charlie Morrison, a Holmdel resident who worked for Bell Laboratories for more than 40 years, agreed.
"Well, I'm sure that some of the people that are unemployed these days would be happy to hear" about the move, said Morrison, 83.*550,000 customers*
Formed in January 2001, Vonage jump-started a hot new market that, while still small, is providing an alternative to traditional telephone service.
Co-founded by Brielle resident Jeffrey Citron, the company offers local and long-distance telephone service over the Internet using a new technology called Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP for short. The technology gives customers who have a high-speed Internet connection a less expensive way to make telephone calls.
Now telecommunications giants, such as AT&T Corp., Verizon Communications and Cablevision Systems, are offering their own service.
Vonage, which has run ads on television and the Internet, has grown to more than 550,000 lines in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, up from about 130,000 as of March 31, 2004. "The company is growing very, very quickly. We are signing up over 15,000 customers a week," Serino said. The company estimates it will have 1 million customers by the end of the year.
"As that number grows, we are going to have to have more people to serve that customer base," he said. "Every single week, we are bringing more and more people on. We are looking forward to recruiting in the area."
The jobs will include customer care, technical support, and software development positions, Serino said.
The new location in Holmdel will encompass the company's corporate offices, call center, network operations, research and operations and other functions, Serino said. "By the end of the summer, the majority of the company, if not the whole company, will move over," he said.
Holmdel Mayor Larry Fink said it is good to see vacant office space used.
"It should be especially exciting for residents of Holmdel and Monmouth County municipalities who formerly worked for AT&T, Lucent, Agere and Avaya, many of who are still looking for employment in the telecom industry," Fink said. "That might bode well for them."*Prospective employee*
Mark P. Horvath, an electrical engineer who lives in Holmdel, said he was thrilled by news of the Vonage relocation.
He's been looking for work since his former employer, Lucent spin-off Agere Systems, closed its area offices last year. He hopes maybe he'll be one of the local people the company hires when it moves here.
"I'm glad to have them as a neighbor," said Horvath, 49. "It's nice when a company moves in; something sizable with a new direction like Vonage. It makes it a very impressive draw for other companies, as well."
Sam Shramko, who moved to Holmdel in the early 1960s when his employer, Bell Laboratories, opened offices there, said the move would be a win-win situation for employers and employees alike.
"I think (Holmdel) is the ideal place for a company, a technical company, because of the past communications and facilities that are around here," Shramko, 70, said. "They'd have a good labor force."