The drinkware maker is looking for a smaller property in the area after its employees started working remotely amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Local drinkware maker Tervis is selling its North Venice headquarters and searching for a smaller property more conducive to working from home.


The plan is to stay in Sarasota County, company president Rogan Donelly said, though as of right now it’s unclear exactly where. Tervis is just beginning the search process, with the help of Michele Fuller and Nick DeVito of Ian Black Real Estate.


The current headquarters, valued at nearly $10 million in 2019, is scheduled to hit the market in July.


When COVID-19 hit, corporate employees at Tervis shifted toward working remotely. The change went over so well that Tervis concluded it no longer needed its 119,000-square-foot facility on 12.5 acres in Venice at 201 Triple Diamond Blvd. The property includes a corporate office and manufacturing facility.


"We found that productivity was actually greater than being here at the office, for whatever reason," Donelly said. "We found that (employees are) happy. They have access to their family. It was a forced experiment, but it worked out well for us."


The change was announced internally to Tervis employees on Friday, so the company is currently in the process of figuring out what kinds of work space each employee needs, depending on their job title.


Everyone will have to come in for certain training, but corporate office employees will be encouraged to work remotely.


The factory and for the corporate headquarters don’t necessarily have to be on the same campus, Donelly said, but company leaders would like to stay in Sarasota County.


The manufacturing facility will be about the same size as the current structure, but the layout will be different, he said, to account for updates to manufacturing technology that have taken place over the last year.


Tervis has about 500 employees, Donelly said, about the same as it did before the pandemic. It was able to hang on to people by furloughing about a third of its workforce and with the help of a Paycheck Protection Program loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration.


Everyone received full pay, Donelly said, though he did not disclose the value of the loan.


In Sarasota County for decades


Tervis has been a Sarasota County company since the 1950s. It’s one of Sarasota County’s major employers, along with its neighbor in Venice, PGT Innovations Inc., which said in late April that it would shut down its manufacturing facility in Orlando.


Losing Tervis would be a huge hit for Venice, Mayor Ron Feinsod said, as the company has been a significant part of the city’s commercial industrial business for a long time.


"As these things pop up, related to the pandemic, there are issues that we haven’t foreseen, that are going to keep happening for the foreseeable future, and each one is going to take some time to sort out," he said. "If this happens, this would be bad for the city of Venice."


Feinsod said he will do whatever he can to find Tervis another site in Venice. Late last year, commercial building permits indicating Amazon planned to build a 120,000-square-foot distribution center in Venice near the company were filed with Sarasota County.


"If there's something we can do, we will consider it and reach out to them," Feinsod said.


Remote work shift


Tervis isn’t the only company that’s shifting toward working remotely because of COVID-19.


More people are working from home because of the pandemic, according to Global Workplace Analytics, a national company that publishes research on the benefits of working from home.


Pre-COVID-19, about 3.6% of the U.S. workforce worked from home at least 50% of the time, according to a Global Workplace Analytics analysis of 2018 American Community Survey data. The company estimates that by the end of 2021, 25-30% of the workforce will telecommute multiple days per week.


The longer people are required to work from home, the more they’ll probably work from home once the U.S. comes out of the pandemic.


About 80% of employees want to work from home, according to Global Workplace Analytics, and one of the biggest obstacles to that up until this point has been worries among managers that no work would actually get done. But COVID-19 has tested that.


Ultimately, every business is going to have to make the best decision for itself, said Heather Kasten, president and CEO of the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce.


"We’re going to see each company analyze their business as they come out of COVID," she said. "Before, you had companies that were like, ‘We’ve always done it this way.’


"Nobody's hand was forced until now."