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Seattle company paying $70K salaries to employees expands, workers see housing boom

The Seattle business owner who got national attention two years ago for giving all his employees at least $70,000 salaries may have a new reason to celebrate-- his company, Gravity Payments, is seeing growth and his employees a 'housing boom.' (Photo: KOMO News)

SEATTLE - The Seattle business owner who got national attention two years ago for giving all his employees at least $70,000 salaries may have a new reason to celebrate-- his company, Gravity Payments, is seeing growth and his employees a "housing boom."

"It’s been really crazy because I was here since before the announcement was made, and so kind of seeing everything happening from the announcement on has been kind of a whirlwind," said Phillip Akhavan who is on Gravity Payment's Merchant Relations Team.

Akhavan said after the announcement, he and his wife had their first child and also became first-time home buyers.

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"We were able to push up all of our future plans,” said Akhavan. “We had help from family for a down payment, but I wouldn't have been able to be qualified for a mortgage for a house for that much if I didn't have a salary that could back it up."

Akhavan is one of at least 20 of the 174 team members at Gravity Payments, a credit card processing company, who bought a home recently or will in the next few months.

"That might not sound like a large number but when you look at the actual number of people we have in our company it's a significant portion, and the fact that it's all happening right now is really exciting." said Gravity’s Communications Director Ryan Pirkle.

On Wednesday afternoon, employees, who are interested in becoming homeowners, got to meet with two real estate agents at the company's Ballard office.

"That thought didn’t cross my mind until earlier this year," said Garrett Bucksath who started working at the company about a year ago. Bucksath, an Army veteran, moved to Seattle for the Gravity Payments job after graduating from college in North Carolina.

Bucksath is looking for a two-bedroom home, likely in the north Seattle area.

"It just seemed so far out of reach as far as just having the money to do that, being able to save up enough money to actually be able to invest into a house," Bucksath said.

It was roughly two years ago when CEO Dan Price made the announcement he was going to offer his employees raises and give himself a pay cut. Since then, Pirkle said the company is seeing "rapid growth." The company now processes credit cards for 18,000 small businesses, compared to 12,000 before the announcement.

As part of the growth, the company has also moved into a new office space in Ballard that's more than twice the size of their previous location. Inside the new building, Pirkle said everything has a purpose.

"We've all had input into every single detail of this build-out, and so it really does feel like it's ours," Pirkle said.

The company is leasing two floors for office space, including one that has a "Main Street" where the conference rooms are located. On the main floor, desks are in an open area and the one thing you won't see there are private offices -- even the CEO has the same size desk as the other employees.

"Working for a company that you're happy for and where your values are aligned that's in my mind more important," said Akhavan. "The fact that I can work in a place where there's both I really feel blessed."

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