BERLIN–Ryan Pappas was on his way to brunch at Barn 34 when a flashy car in the parking lot caught his eye. He voiced his admiration to the vehicle’s owner and asked what he’d done to end up with such a nice car.
Six months later, the 21-year-old Pappas is renovating a 15,000-square-foot facility and hiring as many as 80 employees for Electronic Transaction Systems (ETS). The internationally-known mobile technology company run by Ed Vaughan is taking over the former South Moon Under office in Berlin.
“If it was not for Ed and his philosophy and his roots at the beach, seeing the vast market of people we can help, and the vision he has to create good jobs for people, none of this would be happening,” he said. “He’s the visionary behind it all and we just happen to share the same vision.”
It was Vaughan, the CEO of ETS, who Pappas met in the parking lot of Barn 34. Pappas says his interest in Vaughan’s car turned into a two-hour discussion on mobile technology. Pappas, who’d already created his own company with that target in mind, discovered that Vaughan’s ETS was a global leader in mobile payment technology.
“Everything I wanted to do was already happening,” Pappas said.
He jumped at Vaughan’s invitation to meet at the company’s Virginia headquarters. When Vaughan asked what it would take for Pappas to join ETS, the Salisbury University student said he wanted to be able to bring jobs to the Eastern Shore.
“He said ‘if you can find a location, game on,’” Pappas recalled.
The very first property he looked into was the South Moon Under facility that closed in early 2016. Just this week, ETS finalized a deal for the location. By Wednesday, Pappas was ordering furniture, hiring painters and building a website.
He says the Franklin Avenue facility will include offices for content creators and graphic designers as well as a call center. One section will be converted into mock storefronts so that potential customers can try out ETS technology in the sort of atmosphere they’d be using it in.
Eventually, the ETS Berlin location will employ 60-80 people. Pappas also plans to support local STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) programs and to offer as many as 15 internships each semester.
“It’s going to be rapid,” he said. “I hope to have 30-40 (employees) within three to four months.”
Merry Mears, Worcester County’s economic development director, says companies like ETS are just what the county needs. For years, her department has worked with Salisbury University to interest young professionals and entrepreneurs in Worcester County.
“That’s what we strive to do-cultivate our workforce pipeline,” she said. “This is a culmination of what we’ve been working toward for many years in our office.”
Aside from his desire to bring well-paying tech jobs to the area he’s come to love, Pappas said ETS was setting up on the Eastern Shore because the area was full of potential clients. He believes just about every business in Ocean City could benefit from working with ETS.
“There’s tens of thousands of potential clients that don’t realize they could be,” he said. “ETS will save your business money.”
As a leader in the merchant processing field, ETS specializes in technology to help businesses accept payments. The Town of Ocean City already uses the company’s software and Shore Transit is in the process of becoming an ETS client. The majority of the world’s golf courses, according to Pappas, use software developed by the company.
“Any business that accepts money is who we can help,” Pappas said.
With an office in Berlin, ETS will be in close proximity to the resort as well as to what Pappas sees as the area’s underutilized young workforce.
“The whole point was creating jobs that would keep people here,” he said. “The talent pool is so large but no one takes advantage of the resources there.”
Mears agreed and said that in addition to the people who grew up in Worcester County, young professionals from elsewhere were beginning to see the benefits of living in Worcester County. The area needs jobs to offer those people.
“It’s important to acknowledge there is a crop of young innovators and entrepreneurs that are recognizing our cost of living is low and our quality of life is high,” she said. “They can use technology to live here at the beach.”
Pappas, who’d like to have the new ETS location up and running by December, says he’s ready to begin hiring immediately. For more information on ETS, visit www.emoney.com. For more information on how to apply for a position, visit www.liveworkcode.com.