Evolving career propels corporate veteran into the role of office space franchise owner

Peggy Barron-Antolin started reaping the benefits of participating in GMA before she opened the doors of her new business.

She joined GMA in February 2017, some 10 months before she was ready to open her Office Evolution franchise on Greensboro’s Green Valley Road. She was also able to join the CAN (Competitive Advantage Networking) Group, one of GMA’s formal business leads groups.

“I started interacting with GMA even before I knew where my location was going to be,” she says. “GMA was one of the first business networking opportunities that I took advantage of.”

Office Evolution provides temporary, flexible, full-service office space to entrepreneurs, self-employed individuals, and companies that need short-term quarters. The business also offers virtual office services. Membership is month to month, with discounts offered for six- and 12-month contracts.

The Greensboro location has 22 offices, plus two conference rooms. The larger conference room has held up to 40 persons. WiFi, printers, and other office necessities are provided, including coffee.

Plans range from mailbox services to full office suites. “We provide people, place, and technology,” Barron-Antolin explains. The conference rooms also may be rented by anyone needing meeting space. Billing is by the quarter-hour.

Amanda Barron, the owner’s sister, is the business center manager.

In the months leading up to opening, just before last Christmas, Barron-Antolin says she used many of the services provided by other members of the CAN group, including a photographer and a printer supplier.

Once Office Evolution was open, fellow CAN group members came to the grand opening, she says. They were favorably impressed.

“Because I had been talking about it for so long, they had an impression in their mind. But when they actually saw it, they said, ‘Wow! This is even better than I imagined.'”

What sorts of businesses have taken advantage of Office Evolution so far?

An established financial group needing additional space. A staffing company. A lawyer. An air cargo company. A geographic information service (GIS) mapping company. A musical production company. A business coach. An HVAC contractor and others.

One company moved its entire operation into the flexible space after frozen pipes burst during last winter’s cold snap and flooded its offices.

The company moved its computers in along with a staff of six and was back in business the same day, says Barron-Antolin. The company stayed two months while its previous office space was refurbished.

Office Evolution is Barron-Antolin’s first venture as a business owner. However, she says, she’s able to apply her years of experience in manufacturing operations management and her background in engineering.

She was actually looking for another job in that arena when the opportunity to become a business owner presented itself. Once she made her decision and joined GMA, all she had to pitch to her fellow CAN group members for several months was her vision of what her business would be.

“They were all very supportive,” she says. She’s been returning the favor by providing referrals to those in the CAN group and making introductions to other networking groups.

Barron-Antolin recalls introducing herself to the CAN group by saying, “’I’m going to be a referral for many of you.’ And it turned out that I was.”