Should you renovate your Knoxville business or construct a new building?

    Seven ways new construction can benefit your business

    In an earlier blog we examined some of the benefits and challenges of renovating a new office building or retail location in the Knoxville area.

    While there are advantages to renovating an existing structure to accommodate company growth, there are a lot of variables to take into consideration. These include disruption to your business, challenges bringing old buildings up to current code, and the future economic vitality of your current neighborhood or part of town. Our design-build construction services and preconstruction planning will help guide you through these challenges from the get-go if you decide to go this route.

    There are clear advantages to new construction, however, and we can put our design-build construction expertise to work for you on this front, too.

    Benefits of starting from scratch and building a new office, clinic, restaurant or retail space include:

    1. Relocation: An opportunity to move your business to a more robust part of town.
    2. Utility savings: Increased energy efficiency and utility savings can be realized with modern building materials and new windows.
    3. Functionality: If you aren’t happy with your current facility’s layout, flow or design, starting fresh offers you the chance to create a space that’s right for your business.
    4. Tech integration: Modern wiring and integrated technological systems such as security and digital cabling or conduits are easier to install in new construction.
    5. Better parking: Revamping your parking lot to better accommodate employees and customers.
    6. New infrastructure: Less maintenance and extended warranties on new building features such as HVAC systems.
    7. Less risk: Fewer concerns about the discovery or release of hazardous materials such as asbestos that may be present and disturbed by renovation of an existing structure.

    Ultimately, you make the decisions and call the shots. Our construction professionals and design partners can help you with a cost-benefit analysis to help determine whether renovation or new construction is right for you. Once you decide, our design-build construction experts will be with you every step of the way to help grow and expand your business from the top down or bottom up.

    Contact Leon Williams today to get started on this exciting new phase of your East Tennessee business.

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    Leon Williams Contractors can handle site selection and accompanying challenges

    We can navigate the complications and variables of where to locate your business

    Dairy Queen - Maryville Tennessee - Leon Williams Contractors

    When it comes time to choosing a site for your East Tennessee or Knoxville-area restaurant, retail shop, clinic or church, we are sure you are aware of the “three Ls:” Location, location, location.

    While this is a prime and obvious consideration for virtually any new commercial construction, there are other things to take into consideration before committing to a project location, including building size, visibility, taxes, site access and parking.

    Leon Williams Contractors’ preplanning and consultation services and design-build approach can limit the headaches involved for business owners wanting to construct a new business or expand an existing one. Here are five things we keep in mind.

    1. Building size: Is the site large enough to accommodate your building? It could appear so, but you must take into account other needs, including parking, storm water detention, required setbacks, buffers, signage, and other features such as a deck or patio.
    2. Visibility: This is obviously a function of location, but is not necessarily based on how much vehicular traffic passes by the site. Pedestrian traffic is a factor, too. There are location analyses available, but one surprising rule of thumb is to locate near competitors. This means there’s an established pattern of people coming to the area for a similar service.
    3. Soil and Environmental: Many sites may appear to be a great spot for your new business, but what is not as evident is what could be underground. Sites can have environmental issues that may require remediation such as contaminants in the soil or hazardous materials in existing buildings. Other concealed concerns with sites can be soils that are unsuitable for typical foundations, sink holes, and bedrock.
    4. Site access: Just because a business is sited next to a busy roadway doesn’t mean automatic big paydays. If ingress or egress to your location is difficult, that could sink sales quickly. Avoid complicated intersections or sites from where it’s difficult to make a left turn or otherwise enter the roadway. Depending on the road classification, proximity to intersections, and other governing requirements, the number of access points may be limited. Limited access can cause problems with deliveries, drive-thru queuing, and general circulation on the site.
    5. Parking: Many municipalities have formulas of varying complexity determining how much parking must be provided for various types of businesses or services (for instance, one parking spot per 200 square feet of retail building). There are also ADA requirements to keep in mind for handicapped parking, and some local governments even require landscaped medians and a set number of trees. The rules can get even more complicated if municipalities govern or limit the extent of impervious surfaces.

    Building and opening a new office or shop entails much more than hanging a shingle and opening your doors. Site selection is but one step in the complicated journey toward planning and opening a new business. Our construction preplanning services and design-build approach can streamline the process so you can get on with the business of raising your profile and running your business.

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    Leon Williams reflects on East Tennessee design-build highlights of 2017

    From Dairy Queen to Which Wich, it was another great year

    2017-year-in-review-Leon-Williams-Contractors

    Thanks to a fantastic crew and clients, it was another great year at Leon Williams Contractors LLC!

    We worked on campuses, in shopping centers and in cities across East Tennessee. We put our design-build talents to work on restaurants and retail, and have a raft of projects to focus on in the coming year. We will continue to aspire to being the best design-build firm for our customers in the retail, franchise, worship and restaurant sectors.

    As we look forward to 2018, let’s pause for a quick look back at some of our most notable achievements of 2017.

    • We rang in the new year with the finishing touches on a new Dairy Queen Grill and Chill on West Broadway in Maryville, bringing the iconic burger and ice-cream destination back to Blount County. The project, built from the ground up, was contracted by Fourteen Foods, the leading franchisor of Dairy Queen restaurants.
    • We partnered with Studio Four Design to construct two new Which Wich Superior Sandwiches restaurants, one in Alcoa and one in Fountain City. We worked with franchisee Jeff Hensley to bring the unique restaurant to Alcoa, and it opened its doors in April. The Fountain City location, also operated by Jeff Hensley, has been serving patrons since June.
    • We built the new Sleep Outfitters, a division of Innovative Sleep Solutions, on Foch Street in Maryville. This brings a range of mattress brands and top sleep specialists to Blount County consumers. Check out a time-lapse video of the store construction
    • We designed and built three new food-service options for students, staff and the public at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. We were contracted to build a new Panda Express, a Steak ‘N Shake and a Provisions on Demand, a new concept in campus food services.
    • We also remodeled the Thompson-Boling Arena dining area. Food options at Thompson-Boling now include Which Wich, Bento Sushi, Grab n Go salads and sandwiches and the Southern Kitchen hot bar. This was the 22nd project we have done for the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
    • We were still grading the site and finalizing building plans at the end of last year, but we were able to bring Foothills Church in Maryville out of the ground this year and are excited for its completion in 2018.

    We owe yet another year of success to the dedication of our partners, clients and employees, and we wish you and your family a prosperous New Year. Contact us today for information on how we can help you meet your design-build needs in 2018.

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    Construction labor crunch = Greater Knoxville opportunities

    Leon Williams Contractors an attractive place to work

    tradesmen-Leon-Williams-Contractors

    “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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    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.

    Smart-design-build-Leon-Williams

    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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    Leon Williams Contractors to Refresh Food Service Venues at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

    New Panda Express rendering University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

    Maryville, Tennessee-based commercial design-build firm hired to create new dining environments for students

    MARYVILLE, Tenn. – July 28, 2017 – Leon Williams Contractors, a Maryville-based commercial design-build firm, has been contracted out to help build three new dining options for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga students, including a Panda Express, Steak ‘n Shake by Biglari, and a Provisions on Demand (P.O.D.) quick-serve store.

    “We are excited to work with our dining services partners to offer these great new options to students,” said Dr. Dee Dee Anderson, interim vice chancellor for student development. “The feedback we have been receiving is very positive about these new additions, and we believe these new brand offerings will be terrific for our campus.”

    The new dining options will be located in the food court at the University Center.

    “We will be constructing three different projects with open food concepts between all three,” said Jimmy Hawkins, president of Leon Williams Contractors. “UTC is always looking for ways to improve the dining experience for students, and this project will give them more name brand options as well as the convenience of a quick-serve store for students on the go. The most challenging part of the process will be keeping the open services functioning while minimizing the disruption.”

    Construction is underway with an expected completion date of mid-August so that students will be able to enjoy the new options in the 2017 fall semester.

    About Leon Williams Contractors

    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. 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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    MEDIA CONTACT:
    Heather Ripley
    Ripley PR
    865-977-1973
    hripley@ripleypr.com

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    Three traits of smart retail design

    Think about your favorite places to shop and ask yourself what they have in common. Many people would say that there should be plenty of parking spaces, the interior should not be cramped and everything inside the location should be easy to find. While this may seem like common sense, a number of retailers often overlook the human component that makes a retail location successful. If your retail business needs a new look or wants to update an existing space, the team at Leon Williams Contractors can help you understand the best ways to take advantage of your retail design.

     

    Sleep-Outfitters-Leon-Williams-Contractors-Maryville-Tennessee

    While some franchise retail locations may be limited to what they can do from a design position, the design/build, pre-construction consultation and value engineering services offered by Leon Williams Contractors can work within your requirements to create an amazing retail experience in Blount County, Maryville, Knoxville, Lenoir City and East Tennessee.

    What are the traits of smart retail design? Some of the best ideas include:

    Analyze your potential traffic
    A great retail design might be wasted if potential customers are not able to easily access your location or if the parking lot can’t handle a heavy influx of traffic. The design/build services of Leon Williams Contractors can help determine ease of access and available parking during your site selection process. From building orientation to parking designs, our teams can help you make the most of your retail site investment so you don’t have to lose customers because of traffic flow and parking issues.

    Make your customers comfortable
    Having customers linger may not be a good thing for restaurant owners, but for retail, building for comfort can encourage your customers to linger and shop longer. If your retail design is cramped for space, customers may not want to stay as long, minimizing your opportunities for additional sales. Similarly, if you don’t have a checkout design that encourages quick transaction times, customers may decide to skip on a purchase instead of waiting to pay. Having a design that maximizes your current retail space while allowing for a comfortable retail experience can drive higher sales and customer loyalty.

    Blend your budget with function
    While it may be great to have an unlimited budget to work with, many retail locations need to find a way to manage their budget while still offering an inviting, functional environment for their customers. The value engineering services that are offered by Leon Williams Contractors will help blend the retail design requirements that you have in mind with the budget that you have to work with to create a functional, enduring, affordable design that will hit all of the check boxes that you have for your retail design.

    If you need assistance with creating the perfect retail location or redesigning an existing retail space to meet your needs, contact the team at Leon Williams Contractors today to learn how our knowledge and expertise can be used to your retail advantage.

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    Doug Irving Joins Leon Williams Contractors as Superintendent

    Growing Maryville, Tennessee-based commercial design-build firm announces new superintendent

    Construction Superintendent - Doug Irving - Leon Williams Contractors

    Doug Irving, construction superintendent at Leon Williams Contractors.

    MARYVILLE, Tenn. – Feb. 15, 2017 – Leon Williams Contractors, a Maryville-based commercial design-build firm, has hired Doug Irving as construction superintendent.

    Irving, an honorably separated Lance Cpl. with the U.S. Marine Corps, is a Hollandale, Mississippi native who previously worked for a Knoxville-based contractor.

    “Before, I was travelling state to state helping build automotive retail stores,” said Irving. “Making the switch to Leon Williams has been great for me and my family. I have more time to spend with my wife and two-year-old son, and working with Jimmy, Paul, Jordan and Scott, they’re all great. It’s really a team environment. Everyone is willing to help out and pitch in to make sure we get the job done on time and on budget.”

    Irving has already worked with Leon Williams on the new DQ Grill & Chill in Maryville, and is currently working on the new Which Wich Superior Sandwiches fast causal restaurant that will be opening in April in the Hamilton Crossing shopping center in Alcoa.

    “We’re happy to have Doug on board as we continue to grow,” said Jimmy Hawkins, president of Leon Williams Contractors. “He’s working toward his degree in construction engineering technology, and he’s been able to bring that knowledge, along with his previous construction experience, to the table for the benefit of our team, and ultimately, our clients.”

    Leon Williams Contractors is also currently looking for a construction project manager/estimator. Qualified applicants are encouraged to email their resumes to info@lwcontractors.com.

    About Leon Williams Contractors

    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. 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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    MEDIA CONTACT:
    Heather Ripley
    Ripley PR
    865-977-1973
    hripley@ripleypr.com

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    A beginner’s guide to office renovation

    For many businesses, the idea of renovating an office space offers excitement about the possibilities that can be accomplished. From expanding an existing space to prepare for new employees to renovating a new location to meet the demands for products and services, the team at Leon Williams Contractors have worked with business owners to design and manage office renovations that have helped drive growth for our clients. Office Renovation

    A company that is looking for an office renovation partner may be beginners when it comes to planning out the extent of changes for their office designs. The design/build, pre-construction consultation and value engineering services offered by Leon Williams Contractors can help ensure success for your office renovation in Blount County, Maryville, Knoxville, Lenoir City and East Tennessee.

    Before you get started on an office renovation product, there are a number of factors that you need to keep in mind to help drive success for your renovation, including:

    Plan Ahead
    Before starting on your office renovation project, the best advice is to plan ahead for what your business is trying to accomplish. Are you designing the renovations to add staff, to offer more products and services or are you simply tired of the way that your interior looks? Planning ahead for the future of your business in one year, three years and even ten years in the future can help you determine the best plans for your office renovations. The design/build services of Leon Williams Contractors can be incorporated into your planning to help decide the best use of your office space to meet the future demands of your business.

    Assess your current property
    If your current business property is older, having the team at Leon Williams Contractors engage in a site assessment can help save you money in the long run. Your existing building may not be up to code, which will necessitate updating of your plans for your office renovation prior to the beginning of work. In addition, while using existing systems might save you money in your upfront costs during a renovation, your business may be better served by updating to new systems to lower long term operating costs in your renovated office space.

    Determine your budget
    While it may be exciting to think about all of the changes that you could implement during your office renovation, determining your budget for your office renovation can help you prevent over-extending what you want to accomplish for your business in the long term. Extensive renovations to your office space need to be prepared with your future business goals in mind, especially if you determine that growth in your business means that you move to a larger space in the future. Decide if the renovations that you are making will make your building more likely to sell if you decide to expand your business operations and incorporate value engineering services from Leon Williams Contractors to find the best use of your office renovation budget.

    When your business has determined that the time is right for an office renovation, leverage the experience and knowledge of our teams to help you prepare your business for your future needs. For more information on how we can assist you with your office renovation requirements, contact the team at Leon Williams Contractors today to learn how our knowledge and expertise can be used to your advantage.

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    Get the most out of your construction budget in 2017

    After a strong 2016 for commercial construction, the American Institute of Architects is anticipating an equally strong 2017, with forecasted growth of 5.6 percent anticipated. While national figures can often be different from the forecasts for Blount County, Knoxville, Lenoir City and Maryville, the team at Leon Williams Contractors is anticipating growth in commercial construction throughout our area this year.

    However, an anticipated rise in the commercial construction doesn’t mean that you should not maximize the opportunities related to your commercial construction budget for 2017. Commercial construction projects often run on tight schedules and even tighter budget constraints, so ensuring that you get the most out of your construction budget can help keep your projects financially responsible throughout the duration of your project.

    Some of the ways to get the most out of your commercial construction budget in 2017:

    1. Utilize Design/Build Services
    You can simplify your commercial construction building process by utilizing design/build services from Leon Williams Contractors. Used correctly, design-build services combines skill sets more effectively to make the most out of your construction budget. In addition, design/build allows you to reduce project delivery time, offer fewer changes and claims, offer continuity between designers and contractors and make the construction project run more efficiently. The benefits of working with a design/build partner like Leon Williams Contractors can help offer the most value for your construction budget in 2017.

    2. Consultation and Site Assessments
    Having access to a site assessment prior to beginning a commercial construction project can help minimize unforeseen expenses related to your project. From determining if your site is acceptable for the type of commercial project that you are creating or assessing concerns as they relate to road accessibility, including a site assessment program as a part of your commercial construction planning can help to pre-plan for potential issues before beginning commercial construction.

    3. Value Engineering
    To offer the most value for your commercial construction projects in East Tennessee, Knoxville, Blount County, Maryville and Lenoir City, the incorporation of value engineering into commercial construction planning and implementation can capitalize on your construction investment. Value engineering services from Leon Williams Contractors can deliver evaluation, construction quality and anticipated project life expectancy of your commercial construction project.

    With high growth expectations for commercial construction in 2017 in Blount County, Knoxville, Lenoir City and Maryville, finding ways to make the most of your commercial construction budget can help keep your project on time and within scope. For more information on how we can assist you, contact the team at Leon Williams Contractors today to learn about our variety of commercial construction services available.

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