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You could say our story began 13 years ago, when we opened our first office in Ohio. We won work, we hired great people and we grew. Or, you could go back further and talk about all the work we did in Ohio that led to opening an office. Our history is important in getting us to where we are now. But this isn't a story about our past; it's a story about our future -- and this part of our story began about 2.5 years ago.  

The decision to build

It was time to think about our next space. Of course, we always liked the idea of building our own space, but we weren't sure it was a realistic option. Even though we've grown considerably, our size still didn't justify a new build - or so we thought.

Not unlike the process many of you have been through, we began exploring options. Do we buy or continue to lease? Where should we go? We looked at a number of existing spaces all around the city of Columbus, and we even came close to purchasing. We also seriously considered a larger space that came open in our current building. But the timing wasn't right.

Then an opportunity with VanTrust came up. We would construct a speculative 'flex' building for them and then lease a portion for our new office and warehouse. It seemed to make a lot of sense, and it was less than 5 minutes from our current office. We’ve completed several projects with VanTrust and liked the idea of working with a partner we knew we could trust. Plus, they would allow us to make the space our own. So, we committed.

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Blazer Parkway will house our new office in Dublin, Ohio.

Ohio construction team
Assembling the right team

Once we knew what direction we were going, it was time to get the right team in place to guide us through the process - starting with our own people. We knew our preconstruction team needed to be engaged with the architect from day one, and we knew we were going to be the most challenging client of all. Our team was chosen based on their project experience, availability and most importantly, the right personality to engage a group of highly opinionated people.

Establishing our guiding principles

Immediately, we engaged Design Collective as our architect through a relationship-driven selection process. We want our office to help our people perform at their best so we established Guiding Principles - the rules we needed to play by when designing our space. They also aligned with the WELL standard. From finishes to furnishings, these Guiding Principles have influenced every decision along the way. (Of course, cost was a consideration too.)

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So, with our team in place and our Guiding Principles established, we were all set to build.

And then… we were delayed.

Blazer-Parkway-site

Our site is selected, and we're ready to get started.

A new level of understanding

Sometimes delays happen, and that was the case for us. We ran into unforeseen conditions. Fortunately, our only delay so far took place at the very beginning of the project. Originally, our move-in date was in 2018… Then spring of 2019, and now September of this year.

 

Thank goodness our partners were relationship-driven because we had to stop them. While I've worked in construction more than 20 years and hear about delays and see the financial results, I've never had to live them.

Amy McNevin, Vice President

It wasn't fun telling our partners to stop moving forward. To stop designing. To put our furniture selections on hold while we waited on some issues to get resolved that were out of our control.

I have a new understanding of why you want good partners beside you. Because they work with you through challenges like that.

 

Removing the walls

We knew early-on we wanted to move to an open office concept. Why? Because an open concept is flexible and more conducive to collaboration, both of which are part of our Guiding Principles. Every person will have a workstation, including our president, who recognized the need for a full commitment.

I can't tell everyone how great an open office is and then go back to my office.

Paul Francois, President - Ohio

The Millennials are excited, and the Gen Xers and Baby Boomers are nervous. But at this stage in the process, no one knew anything about what was coming so we'll come back to this. Stay tuned!

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sjared-office-2
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Since we were delayed, we've had to fit people into our already cramped, existing space. Several of us are sharing offices, and what we've found is that for some, it has increased collaboration. It will be exciting to see what happens when we strategically put people side-by-side based on who is working together rather than where there is available space.

Thinking about WELL Certification

 

 

 

Two years ago, Paul (president of Pepper Ohio) asked me what kind of high performance things we should do. I explained we could always do LEED. Or, we could do something different. There's the Living Building Challenge, but our people wouldn't see the benefit as much as WELL. WELL supports the message of human performance.

Susan Heinking

Vice President, High Performance and Sustainable Construction

 

 

What is WELL? It's been said that LEED is for the building, and WELL is for the people inside. As such, WELL requires proof that the building is performing before it can be certified. It makes sense for us because this project isn't just about the built space. It's about our company culture and ensuring our internal practices support a healthier workplace as much as the built environment.

Paul agreed that WELL best supports our goal of giving our people an environment that helps them perform at their best.

And then we decided to take it a step further: What if we challenge ourselves and opt in to the beta test for version 2? It would allow us to try it and offer feedback. With an in-house team to walk us through the process, why not.

What have we found so far? As a construction company, you know we had feedback on the contract!

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Credits

Are you interested in learning more about WELL or considering a project of your own? Let us know how we can help! 

Team:
Developer: VanTrust
Architect: Design Collective

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