Leon Williams Contractors Names Jimmy Hawkins as Senior Partner

    East Tennessee commercial construction firm continues growth in 2013

    Knoxville, Tenn. Nov. 5, 2013 – Leon Williams, president and owner of commercial construction firm Leon Williams Contractors, LLC recently named project manager Jimmy Hawkins as the firm’s senior partner. Hawkins has been with the commercial design-build firm since 2004 and holds a bachelor of science degree in civil engineering from the University of Tennessee.

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    “Jimmy has been instrumental in bringing vision and engineering knowledge to the company since joining us,” said Williams. “His dedication and perseverance in both his professional and personal life are attributes we have appreciated and benefited from over the years. His promotion is well-deserved.”

    Hawkins has been responsible for estimating and managing design-build projects from $40,000 to $1.6 million, including the new Calhoun’s BBQ Shack in Neyland Stadium and eight restaurant chain projects including Pizza Hut, Chick-fil-A and Dunkin’ Donuts on the University of Tennessee’s Knoxville campus. Other projects nearing completion include the Grand Event Center in Knoxville and remodeling of the Foothills Church in Maryville.

    As one of six volunteer project managers for the hit show “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” during the Knoxville construction project in 2012, Hawkins  noted it was one of the most ambitious projects in the series, and included three structures and took a little over a full week to finish.

    “It was one of the most rewarding projects I’ve worked on to date,” said Hawkins. “When I look back, it’s still hard to believe the other project managers and I worked 14-16 hours a day for a full week, built three structures and managed more than 2,500 volunteers to bring the project to completion.”

    In addition to his degree in civil engineering, Hawkins was a member of Chi Epsilon—the Civil Engineering Honor Society, graduated Magna Cum Laude and received several awards from the American Society of Civil Engineers.

    For more information about Leon Williams Contractors, visit www.lwcontractorstn.com.

    About Leon Williams Contractors, LLC

    An experienced commercial design-build firm, Leon Williams Contractors simplifies the building process by effectively managing costs, adhering to deadlines and reducing complications to provide a seamless building experience. With more than 40 years as a value-engineering expert, Leon Williams Contractors offers a complete range of services including pre-construction consultation, site assessment, design-build expertise and construction management in the greater Knoxville, Tenn. area. For more information, visit www.lwcontractorstn.com or call 865-982-1734.



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    Commercial Developers: Is Recycling On-Site Cost Effective?

    Not only is reusing, repurposing, and recycling construction material good for the environment, it might also be good for your bottom line. Like other commercial construction companies, we at Leon Williams Contractors are always looking for ways to stay under budget at our construction sites around East Tennessee, and it turns out that making the effort to be environmentally friendly might be the key to doing just that.

    Have you ever thought about what it actually means to reuse, repurpose, or recycle? Basically, reusing an item means that you put it to its intended use more than one time, such as a nail or a beam. Recycling means sending a material to be broken down and converted into another usable material or item. If you repurpose an item, this means that rather than sending it off to be recycled, you would still use it, but in a different way than its original purpose.

    Where do these things factor into the commercial construction industry? It’s not always possible to repurpose a construction item, but taking steps to reuse or recycle a material on site may make the difference between being under or over budget. It’s probably also appealing to your clients, who see the value in owning green buildings.

    So how can you use environmentally friendly techniques to your economic advantage on the construction job site? First, you’ll need to do a little advance planning. Assess a demolition site before tearing down a building and keep an inventory of anything that can be reused or sent off for recycling. Get your crew involved and train them on what to look for and what to do with any salvaged items. Then, create designated areas where those salvaged materials will be sorted. Make sure you watch over your team to hold them accountable to the task at hand. Try to make use of any reusable items on the job site, as that will be the most cost-effective technique.

    You can likely reuse steel, which has the added benefit of often being produced locally, from recycled scraps. Materials like carpet can be sent off for recycling. You can also crush and reuse concrete. If you’re dealing with a bad parking lot, use a technique called full depth reclamation. This involves pulverizing the asphalt, adding stone base and earth and adjusting the moisture percentage, to create a new, more stable surface.

    Not all of these techniques will work on every commercial construction site. However, thinking carefully before demolishing an existing building to make way for a new one may yield you some surprisingly reusable materials, help your building adhere to green standards, and save you some project costs in the process.

    Leon Williams Contractors has spent many years building its reputation in the East Tennessee area as a qualified and reputable commercial contractor. We welcome your comments and feedback about our blog topics.

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    How Leon Williams Contractors has Stepped Up Marketing Efforts

    Like other commercial construction companies, we at Leon Williams Contractors understand how advertising helps us grow our business. Construction companies can certainly get work through word of mouth, but if we rely on that alone, we might find ourselves running short of business pretty quickly.

    But what’s the best way to advertise? In today’s technologically advanced world, there are a multitude of options that can be either very costly or very cost-efficient. Many commercial construction companies employ multiple ways to advertise, based on their budget and their needs.

    For years, Leon Williams Contractors has relied on word-of-mouth advertising around the Maryville and Knoxville areas. It has been very effective for us and helped us develop close relationships with our clients, many of whom have come back again and again for more work. We’re thrilled with how well that form of marketing has worked for us, and have done all we can to provide the best service possible to our clients to keep them happy. However, we’ve also realized that in today’s world, growing a business means multiple types of advertising, so we’ve made recent strides to step up our marketing efforts.

    Our efforts match those of other similar construction companies across the country. The Construction Marketing Association recently did a survey of construction professionals across the country, to find out which methods of advertising they use, if any, and how effective they have found various advertising to be. The survey found that more than 96 percent of construction companies do make use of advertising – mainly on social media, trade print ads, and event marketing.

    Other methods of advertising that commercial construction companies use include public relations, web banners, phone directories, radio, paid searches, billboards, jobsite signs, newspapers, logos on equipment, and television ads.

    The survey found that 31 percent of construction professionals found trade print ads to be the most effective for their businesses. Event marketing, “other,” social media, and web banners followed as effective methods of advertising.  The CMA found advertising by phone or in a directory to be the least effective for most construction companies.

    You can be sure we at Leon Williams will be keeping these numbers in mind as we build our own marketing efforts. Nearly 60 percent of the construction companies in the survey said advertising by these various methods helped build awareness of their business, generate sales leads and referrals, and increase website traffic. We’re excited to see our own business grow by leaps and bounds in the East Tennessee area, and will carefully consider these various marketing techniques as we decide how to expand our advertising efforts.

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    Three Advantages of Hiring a Design-Build Team

    In the old days of commercial construction, a developer would hire an engineer or architect to design the facility, and then have contractors place bids on building from the design. These days, though, it’s becoming more of a trend for commercial developers to enlist the help of a design-build team. These firms combine both tasks to simplify the process of getting your project completed.

    At Leon Williams Contractors, we are all about simplifying the building process, so we have found the design-build approach ideal for our clients in the Maryville and Knoxville area. If you’re a commercial developer looking to get a commercial construction project going, here are three advantages to hiring a design-build team for your job.

    1. Teamwork: Because design-build      firms are responsible both for designing a facility and building it, there      is an increased level of cooperation and coordination. Everyone is working      toward the same goal, and everyone is an expert in the process, so it’s      easy for the design-build team to make decisions and streamline the work      that needs to be done.
    2. Responsibility: When you hire a      design-build firm, that one entity is the only company responsible for      everything from the budget, to the timeline, to the quality of the      materials and workmanship. They want to deliver a good product, and nobody      will take sides and point fingers to protect their individual interest      should any conflict arise. This also means they’re devoting more time to      meeting your needs, not just fulfilling basic requirements, so you’re      probably going to get a better product.
    3. Efficiency: A design-build team’s      ability to work together gives you more control over the design itself,      and the cost. They’re working together to make sure that the material and      labor costs fit into your agreed budget. Plus, since the workflow is      smoother than it would be if you hired two separate firms, there will also      be more efficiency in project completion as well, which means you’ll      probably get your facility up and running that much faster. Finally,      you’ll run into fewer errors or conflicts over problems, which minimizes      the paperwork, claims, and cost of fixing errors that can result from      having two companies on the same project.

    Ultimately, you have to decide whether a design-build team is the best option for your commercial construction project. We have found that it works well for us at Leon Williams Contractors, and it keeps our clients coming back for more.

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    Why Restaurant Construction is Booming

    Have you noticed new restaurants popping up all over the place recently? Do a quick Google search and you’ll find new restaurant construction is a big trend all across the country. Local chains and individual restaurants continue to open around the area as well.

    Like other sectors of commercial construction, restaurant development took a big dive with the economic bust in 2007 and 2008, according to market researcher IBISWorld. Restaurant construction didn’t really start picking back up until the end of 2012, though.

    These days, whether you live in East Tennessee or elsewhere, it seems that everywhere you turn, there’s a new restaurant going up or the announcement of another new eatery coming to town. Sometimes it’s a locally-owned business, but more often these are national franchises that continue to expand. Even Chicago recently got its first Olive Garden.

    So, why the recent boom in restaurant construction? First of all, restaurants are immune to the shift to online shopping like many other commercial and retail sectors. Also, there are changing demographics in both urban and suburban areas. Just as you might see more chains opening in cities where they weren’t before, more fast-casual options and big-brand restaurants are coming into suburban malls and shopping centers.

    As for us, we at Leon Williams Contractors are eager to see the boom continue, and to make sure we’re a part of it.

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    Building Contractor-Client Relationships is Good Business

    When we look back on the relationships Leon Williams Contractors has built throughout the years as one of East Tennessee’s successful commercial construction companies, we recognize that a key to our success is the synergy we establish with our clients. This relationship goes beyond the worksite. It’s about the way we listen and really hone in on what the client expects and demands of their contractor.

    As a result, we’d like to give some reasons and tips on building a solid contractor-client relationship.

    1. The most fundamental characteristic of a strong relationship is trust in the other party and commitment to the relationship. Trust and commitment create a relationship in which all parties strive to achieve common goals, resolve conflicts, and share access to resources, information, and opportunities.
    2. In establishing a business relationship, each party needs to understand what motivates the other party and why it is important. An understanding of a particular company’s motivators in the business relationship will help in reaching an understanding that will be amicable to both parties.
    3. In addition to understanding what is important to the other party, finding goals and objectives that you have in common will provide opportunities for the relationship to grow and prosper.
    4. Each party can demonstrate its commitment to maintaining and strengthening the relationship by enhancing cooperation between the parties, providing opportunities and benefits that are better than those available from other sources, maintaining corporate values that are compatible with those of the other party, providing honest performance feedback (especially the negative) to the other party so they can take appropriate action quickly, sharing information that will enhance the other party’s market knowledge and upholding the implicit and explicit promises made.
    5. And finally, here are six other tips that can help build a successful business relationship:
    • Structure the relationship in a way that maximizes the chance of a successful win-win partnership.
    • Ensure that there is a clear understanding of the goals and motivations of all parties so they can be aligned to the maximum extent possible.
    • Ensure that all parties work to create a cooperative atmosphere. This is critical in the early stages of the relationship to get it off to a good start.
    • Develop a shared ability to find mutually beneficial solutions for achieving goals.
    • Openly discuss differences, such as, cultural, structural, financial, contractual, programmatic, political, etc., to provide insight into each other’s motivations and to develop mutual understandings.
    • All parties need to plan execute, and deliver on their respective responsibilities in order to achieve the individual and shared goals and objectives.

    So, now you know a lot more about the philosophy we enter into with every client. Once both parties establish a template for communication and organization, their progress toward a common goal takes on a life of its own, which can be hugely beneficial. The customer gets the clear information that he needs to reduce downtime and keep the building process moving efficiently. The contractor becomes familiar with the client’s preferences, which eventually minimizes the preparation overhead. This type of relationship, built on loyalty, fairness and open communication will produce and amplify fantastic results over time. This in turn positively impacts the client’s bottom line with reduced risks. How can you beat that?


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    Leon Williams Contractors Helps Food Markets Evolve into P.O.D.s at the University of Tennessee


    At Leon Williams Contractors we pride ourselves in staying on the leading edge of commercial construction trends. We have recently been part of a growing trend called “Provisions On Demand” or P.O.D, through our partnership with ARAMARK, a leading provider of services to colleges and universities worldwide.

    You may have already taken advantage of this trend without knowing it. Provision on Demand’s convenient marketplace-style “mini-stores” replace old-school candy bar and snack food vending areas on campuses with state-of-the-art fresh foods and prepared foods, on demand.

    The P.O.D marketplaces provide grab ‘n go dining options for breakfast, lunch or any time of day, including:  freshly-prepared breakfast sandwiches, burritos, wraps, sushi and salads, as well as fresh produce, bakery and coffee selections and traditional essentials found in a convenience store. Other options available are tailored to each campus, including vegan and gluten-free menu choices.

    The concept began testing in 2008 on three U.S. campuses; Brandeis University (MA), University of Tennessee and The University of Toledo. The quick dining model took off and currently P.O.D marketplaces have been built in 50 locations with more to come soon.

    Leon Williams Contractors built several P.O.D marketplaces locally at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville and Chattanooga – in one case converting an existing classroom into a convenience store with grab ‘n go options along with fresh food, sushi and McAllister’s tea. At the UT Knoxville campus, we built a P.O.D marketplace in the Hodges Library next to the Starbucks, and built a similar P.O.D. store at UT’s Chattanooga campus.

    The P.O.D. markets are also adaptable to a variety of campus locations due to the modular design elements used, allowing the construction to fit in with the existing building and location’s structural needs, while still providing students with a trendy yet comfortable feeling. Students have been overwhelmingly positive about this concept.






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    Testimonial – Jennifer Martella- 2

    “I have worked with Leon Williams since the 1990’s.  Our first project together was a renovation that Leon took over when the previous contractor was fired for incompetence.  Leon quickly gained my clients’ trust, and finished the project with great tact and the highest quality of construction.  Even though I live in Maryland now, Leon and I just completed a complicated project for the same client who brought us together.  It was a delight to work with Leon again.  I treasure his sense of humor.  His dedication to his clients and his crews results in a project of which we can all be proud of.”

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    Testimonial – Commercial Bank – 2

    “Working with Leon and his team is a real joy!  He will bend over backwards to help you in every way he can.  It does not matter how large or small the project you have he is always been there for our Bank and makes sure the job is done according to code.”

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    Testimonial – Studio Four Design 2

    “Leon and Jimmy are truly great construction professionals! They have their clients best interests at heart on each project. I would recommend them to anyone in need of a builder.”

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