A company that makes computer software for the criminal justice industry is becoming the first major high-tech company to move its headquarters to downtown Mesa.
JusticeTrax, an employee-owned company that was formed in 2000 as a spinoff from a subsidiary of Lucent Technologies, has purchased an office building at the southwest corner of Main and Center streets, across from the rising Mesa Arts Center.
For JusticeTrax, the move is a chance to increase its floor space at a reasonable cost, said Jeff Braucher, vice president and co-founder of the company.
“We think Mesa is an up-and-coming area, and the real estate is a good value,” he said.
The company will move 29 employees in December from the Metrocenter area of north Phoenix, he said. Almost immediately the company expects to hire three more employees to handle a new contract from the FBI forensics lab in Quantico, Va., and the company could jump to 50 employees within a few years. Salaries average $75,000 annually, Braucher said, adding that JusticeTrax has to compete with such companies as Intel and Motorola for software engineers.
“In our business, our main capital is our people,” he said.
Braucher, who attended Mesa High School when it was in downtown Mesa, had not been back to the area in about 20 years when he scouted the area for possible sites in the summer of 2002. That was before ground was broken on the arts center, but he learned about the plans from city officials.
“I was impressed with the redevelopment that was going on, the new Main Street landscaping, the attractive buildings. I could see there were growth opportunities,” he said.
The new JusticeTrax building, 1 W. Main St., was built in 1954 as the Mesa regional center for First National Bank of Arizona. Later it was occupied by a travel agency, another bank and a law office before it was bought by JusticeTrax. The structure includes a bank vault that will provide an ideal home for servers that contain client information that needs extra security, president and co-founder Simon Key said.
“It was a factor that went into our decision (to located in the building),” he said.
Privately held, JusticeTrax does not release revenue and earnings statements, but Key said the company is profitable. The company's client list includes state law enforcement agencies in Arizona, California, Oregon, Tennessee and Georgia in addition to the FBI and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
The company's software helps operators of forensics labs keep track of evidence and produce reports, allowing them to document the chain of custody. Also the company produces a case management system for medical examiners.
Tom Verploegen, director of the Mesa Town Center Corp., which promotes the downtown Mesa area, said his group hopes to recruit more high-tech companies to the area.
“We're somewhat limited in the properties that are available, but it is definitely a target business market,” he said. “A lot of those companies don't mind the funky space . . . and some of the income levels are pretty high end.”
Braucher said JusticeTrax might consider acquiring other downtown Mesa buildings if the company needs more room to expand. Information on job openings at JusticeTrax is available at www.justicetrax.com.