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Whatever your taste, Leon Williams Contractors will design and build your eatery

Franchises and chains go from flairy to airy

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One of our design-build niches in the Knoxville area is restaurants. We handle design services and construction from soup to nuts.

Our list of restaurant projects ranges from the new Panda Express at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga to the new Dairy Queen that opened earlier this year in Maryville. While we have completed fine-dining facilities for Green Meadow Country Club and the J. Milton and Five Oaks steakhouses, we are especially adept and experienced in the construction of franchise restaurants, including Starbucks, Moe’s, Which Wich and Chick-fil-A.

Most franchise agreements include design stipulations, and we adhere to the requirements of the franchisor throughout our design-build process. We also stay abreast of design trends, so we can steer franchisees in the right direction as soon as the project commences. Some franchisors also require periodic upgrades and changes in décor to keep their restaurants unique, fresh and trendy.
Many, though not current clients, are going for the sleek, minimalist, modern and airy look:

• Applebee’s: The restaurants known for their somewhat kitschy wall décor are transitioning to a sleeker appearance. Two prototypes feature an open kitchen and place more emphasis on the bar and open areas for socializing. You may have noticed another change in recent years: table-top computers for gaming, ordering and settling the bill.

• TGI Fridays: The casual chain is also doing away with its flair. A prototype in Corpus Christi, Texas features high ceilings, a more open dining room, blond wood and simple yet aesthetic table tops and chairs. That’s a far cry from the cluttered living-room feel of the original Friday’s, which opened in New York City in the 1960s as a singles bar.

• McDonald’s: Even the mighty Golden Arches have gotten a makeover in recent years. Many of the changes you may have noticed are actually imports from foreign McDonald’s. Franchisees can now choose from a variety of styles such as “Allegro,” “Form,” and “Living Room.” It’s part of the burger giant’s own drive toward a minimalist aesthetic to escape its cookie-cutter past.

So be warned and beware: Some of your favorite restaurants may lose their flair. But we’ll always help our restaurant clients achieve the design and look they want, be it kitschy, modernist or country. Contact us today to see how.

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Construction labor crunch = Greater Knoxville opportunities

Leon Williams Contractors an attractive place to work

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“Labor shortage.”

“Major fixes needed.”

“Shifting construction plans.”

Google it if you dare, but that’s just the hint of headlines that abound about a growing labor scarcity in the design-build construction fields.

But what some may call scarcity, we call opportunity. Our current labor force at Leon Williams Contractors is qualified, skilled and highly sufficient, but we are always looking for skilled additions to our team.

The U.S. unemployment rate – at 4.3 percent as of Aug. 10, is back to pre-Recession levels, if not less. Many markets – including Knoxville – are seeing jobless rates below 3 percent. That means there is stiff competition for construction laborers and skilled craftsmen in the Knoxville and Maryville areas.

That also means skilled workers can shop themselves around before committing to new opportunities. But our history and reputation as a leading East Tennessee design-build firm already makes us stand apart from other companies, and we tend to attract and retain the best minds and hands in the industry.

Send your resume today to info@lwcontractorstn.com if you are interested in joining our team and taking your construction career to the next level.

In the meantime, for some perspective on the opportunities that await, here is a quick by-the-numbers snapshot of the current labor situation:

  • 56 percent of home builders report a lack of skilled laborers is a major issue.
  • 75 percent of builders say they have recently increased wages.
  • 40 percent of the workforce in some markets is foreign born. Many of those workers left the American workforce during the Recession.
  • 500,000 skilled electricians and carpenters are needed nationally. If a national infrastructure-repair plan ever came to fruition that number would grow to 1.1 million.

The issue is complex, and the answers are not easy, but we are committed to maintaining a workforce that can build the Maryville, Knoxville and East Tennessee economies.

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Leon Williams Contractors can ensure your medical facility buildout goes well

 

Be it urgent care or a full doctor’s office, we keep patients in mind

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By some counts, there are nearly 11,000 urgent-care and retail medical clinics in the U.S.

The reasons for their proliferation are manifold, but most patients cite convenience, better accessibility and lower relative costs for care. Most doctors agree such clinics are largely acceptable for urgent services such as colds and flu or routine services such as blood tests, but the clinics should not be considered primary-care centers. Regular medical checkups are best handled by your personal physician to ensure continuity of care. And of course, if you just cut your fingers off with a table saw, you want to head straight for the emergency room.

While convenient and cost-effective, retail clinics and walk-in medical providers are very utilitarian in nature. That means they probably lack design features customary in some health care settings to put patients more at ease and reduce the cold, clinical feel of a medical environment.

Leon Williams Contractors has designed and built medical facilities for years. We can put our design-build expertise to work on a new eye clinic, dentist office or even urgent-care center. But we will never scrimp on design and appearance. That’s one benefit to our design-build system: Clients can engage early and often to ensure the design of their medical facility is exactly what they want.

Here are a few things we will keep in mind when envisioning, and ultimately building your medical facility, in Knoxville, Maryville or beyond:

  • Tech-savvy. Technology is a major driver in medical facility design. Some technology components, such as check-in kiosks, should definitely be accounted for at the design stage. Some medical facilities even incorporate pneumatic tubes to more quickly move lab results around a building.
  • Room to grow. Allow for expansion and reorientation. Given the vast changes in the way health care is provided, we can ensure your design allows for reconfiguration if another doctor joins the practice or new services are offered.
  • Let in the light. Research indicates patient outcomes improve when medical facilities are well-lighted via sunlight. Our experts can ensure your design includes ample light and other features, including color choice, so your patients are relaxed and receptive when their name is called for care.
  • Meet halfway. Some medical facilities overdo it with fancy and redundant accoutrements that can drive up prices. We can help ensure your facility is attractive and aesthetically pleasing without becoming too showy.

There are enough patients to go around, and there’s a reason for the explosive growth of urgent-care centers and walk-in retail clinics. But whether you are an eye doctor, dentist or physician wanting to build or expand a “traditional” medical facility, we will bring decades of expertise. Our design-build process can accelerate you toward your ultimate goal: Offering the best care and service to your patients.

Contact us today for more information about medical facility design trends or to discuss your doctor’s office design-build options.

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Start thinking outside the big box

Leon Williams Contractors customers should be aware of changing retail scene

There’s so much bad press about the future of brick-and-mortar retail lately, it’s as if we’re all going to revert to a hunter-gatherer society with occasional drone deliveries to our crude shelters.

Leon Williams Contractors – a leading design-build firm specializing in franchise, medical facility and church construction — has no shortage of robust retail projects in the Knoxville area, make no mistake. But we are not blind to the fact traditional models of retail are undergoing substantial change, thanks in large part to the proliferation of online shopping and home-delivery systems.

We are by no means experts in retail trends, but it’s good for our customers to keep in mind some of these changes when it comes time to siting a store.

While multiple industries, including journalism, department stores and network television, have indeed seen some dramatic shifts courtesy of the digital revolution, all is not lost – at all. Some evolution is in order in the retail industry, that is true, but here are some ways to stanch the bleeding of traditional retail storefronts:

 -Make your brand stand for something. Millennials, a future gold mine of a generation increasingly coming into its own in terms of buying power and wealth, don’t just want to buy a new button-down Oxford. They want to support brands like REI that have core values like conservation and philanthropy. This is where robust social media comes into play: Trumpet your values to stand apart and ultimately bring traffic into your store.

-Position yourself. Some feel the future of retail lies in its presence in mixed-use developments that are anchored by establishments and services that won’t likely fade from fashion any time soon. Think fitness centers, restaurants and movie theaters. Many developments are even incorporating the ultimate destination place into their layouts: Residential units or houses. They represent a literally captive customer base.

-Engage the community. Incorporate meeting spaces into your store, and offer classes or lessons that coincide with your brands and products. Own a clothing store? Consider seasonal fashion shows that have a charitable component. Own a restaurant? Offer cooking classes that feature your signature dishes.

-Unleash your employees. Happy employees can be your best brand ambassadors. Encourage them to tout your store, its values and offerings on social media. Make sure they exercise common sense, of course, and you want to have a solid social-media policy in place, but the buzz for virtually all brands now begins in the digital sphere. The risk of a rogue employee is outweighed by the weight people give to online engagement.

Traditional storefronts are rapidly entering the evolve-or-die reality of modern consumerism. There will always be a place for hands-on commerce in our economy, but it’s time to start thinking outside the big box.

As an East Tennessee design-build firm with endless creative contacts, Leon Williams Contractors can help you do that. Give us a call today at 865-982-1734.

Keeping these tips in mind will help you better navigate the changing consumer landscape and ensure you have a clear vision in mind when it comes time to step into the design-build process. When that time comes, give us a call at 865-982-1734.

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Five ways preconstruction planning saves money

How to benefit from streamlining your next commercial construction project

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Studies indicate a direct correlation between project preconstruction planning and ultimate cost savings.

It makes good business sense to get all clients and contractors on board before a project commences. At Leon Williams Contractors, a leading design-build firm in East Tennessee, preconstruction consultation is offered on all our projects as part of our comprehensive business model.

Here are five ways the preconstruction process can yield savings over the life of a project:

  1. Preconstruction establishes the scope of work and an overall budget ahead of time to ensure proper financing is in place. Our design-build model brings all stakeholders – designers, contractors and clients – to the table ahead of time to discuss goals, feasibility, timelines, materials and expectations before a project begins. This prevents expensive change orders or delays should the project begin to creep past its budget.
  2. Site evaluation. The preconstruction process can be used to communicate the need for any possible additional site work before construction begins. Unanticipated site remediation or additional excavating costs can be identified and planned for ahead of time, eliminating delays or unexpected cost overruns. Infrastructure or utility needs and challenges can also be identified ahead of time.
  3. Preconstruction planning ensures all necessary permits are identified and in place before work begins, an assurance that can prevent costly work delays and citations.
  4. The longer a project takes, the more expensive it becomes. Preconstruction meetings can allow us – and our clients – to set schedules for equipment or materials deliveries, plan around holidays and anticipate potential issues that may arise during the life of the project. This prevents work delays and scheduling snafus.
  5. Value engineering. Preconstruction planning allows us to take a wider look at the scope of a project and immediately identify potential cost savings in design, infrastructure, and electrical or plumbing plans.

 

This is just a sampling of the ways preconstruction planning can benefit our clients and streamline projects. It’s also a reminder that we will be with you every step of the way and see your project to fruition from beginning to end.

Contact us today to learn how our comprehensive design-build process can bring your project in on time and under budget.

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