Around Town

From Its Crystal City HQ, Bloomberg BNA Keeps Growing

Across the street from the Crystal City Metro station, in a nondescript office building, stands the headquarters of Bloomberg BNA, one of Arlington County’s largest private employers.

Each day, more than 1,000 employees push through its revolving glass doors or take the elevator up from the underground garage.

Bloomberg BNA is an information and research company which provides “legal, tax, compliance, government affairs and government contracting professionals with critical information, practical guidance and workflow solutions.” Established in 1929 as the Bureau of National Affairs, the company was employee-owned from 1947 until 2011, when it became a subsidiary of financial news and information giant Bloomberg.

Paul Albergo, the bureau chief, has worked at Bloomberg BNA for over 30 years. Around 200 people work under Albergo at Bloomberg BNA’s Crystal City news division.

“We are one of the largest news-gathering organizations in Washington,” Albergo said. “We have the largest number of reporters that are credentialed on Capitol Hill.”

Bloomberg BNA was in D.C.’s West End from the 1920s until 2007, when it came to Arlington, lured by tax incentives, which were extended earlier this year. Previously, the company was scattered amongst several different buildings. In Crystal City, employees are an elevator ride away from each other.

In the new space, people from various departments can rub shoulders in the “pantry” — a pristine, sunlit eating area boasting an exotic fish tank and a peanut butter grinder.

“You tend to run into people that you’re thinking about but you don’t have a formal meeting with and suddenly you can have communication,” Albergo said.

One of the many perks of the company’s new building is an easy commute: the West End location was not close to a Metro station and could be difficult to reach by car.

“To go from a neighborhood that was kind of tucked away in a corner of the city to a location that was well-served by Metro, [Virginia Railway Express], just a couple blocks off the highway and other major commuter routes [made] everyone’s commute a lot easier,” Albergo said.

Albergo himself lives in the District but his commute is about 20 minutes quicker than before. Ironically, although the company is no longer in D.C., it now takes reporters less time to get to their important events on Capitol Hill, among other places.

“In many ways it becomes really easy to recruit people that come to work here because commuting is so easy,” Albergo said.

Crystal City also allows for plenty of food options outside of the pantry. Albergo enjoys sandwiches from Taylor Gourmet and pizza slices from We, The Pizza. He also likes that he can drive a few minutes and easily grab lunch at Pentagon Row or Pentagon City. He often frequents Food Truck Thursday, which happens just outside the office.

“I can just go right up to the window and look down and see what food trucks are there,” he said.

When Bloomberg bought BNA in 2011, the company underwent a great deal of change. While the shareholders and employees were no longer one, Bloomberg began to invest heavily in its new subsidiary.

“[We went] from a company that had that ‘Mom and Pop’ feel to an international organization, [which] allowed us to really expand, take risks, to really invest in certain ways that we might not have been able to do as an employee-owned company,” Albergo said.

Physically, a lot changed for the business. BNA adopted Bloomberg’s “open work plan” of no private offices — now, everyone has a cubicle. This was not a big change for the news bureau because most news employees already had cubicles, but it was for other areas of the company.

“It’s beautiful, it’s open. It’s really allowed for greater collaboration and much better communication,” Albergo said. “It’s an attractive setting so when you bring someone here for an interview, [they want to work here].”

As for a typical day in the life of a bureau chief, Albergo says there is no such thing. He comes into the office, sits down at his desk among his collection of Batman memorabilia, and takes action on the ever-changing news of the day. Some days he also has to troubleshoot a technical problem, other days he answers a customer’s question or tries to fill an open position.

“A typical day is atypical, unpredictable,” Albergo said.