Is your business expanding? The pros and cons of building for growth

    The team at Leon Williams Contractors, LLC, offers complete general contractor services, including a full range of construction services, pre-construction consultation and site assessment, construction management, value engineering, and construction management. Regardless of the size and scope of the project, the team at Leon Williams Contractors delivers outstanding, on-time and on-budget results and can assist your business when it comes time for building for growth of your business. 

    As many businesses are looking to expand their operations to meet the demands of their customers, one question that we often discuss with clients is understanding the pros and cons of building a new space for expected expansion versus expanding the build of an existing location to meet anticipated needs. This question can also be considered for worship centers as well; a recent project that our teams worked on for Foothills Church shows the importance of determining the best choices for expansion for your organization.

    Building for Growth with Leon Williams Contractors
    Understanding Expansion Planning with existing locations
    Regardless of the business that you are in, expansion of your reach is a process that will involve a large number of moving parts before you make the move to expand. From a practical standpoint, taking stock of your current building location to see if you have additional space to grow should be one of the first steps in the process of expansion. 

    For industrial and manufacturing clients, engaging with a design/build firm to determine if your existing space will support an expansion of your current footprint can offer excellent insight in the creation of an expansion plan with the resources that you have in place. Retail and restaurant clients may have specific restrictions in their existing space, which may necessitate a move to a new, larger location that would help your business expand your retail or dining space to better serve a larger volume of customers at this new location. 

    Building for Growth
    No matter the type of business that you are looking to expand, planning for growth should include planning for the future of your business. From a strategic standpoint, while you may be thinking about this next step of expansion, consider what the next step will be after this step. If your business continues to grow, ask yourself how you would want to proceed when you decide to grow your business again.

    Having a partner like Leon Williams Contractors, LLC, will allow you to use our design/build, pre-construction consultation and site assessment, as well as our value engineering services, to not only plan your initial expansion, but to determine the best ways to help your business grow to meet the demands of your clients over time.

    To learn more about Leon Williams Contractors and how we can provide the services to help your business expand on a schedule that makes sense for your individual business needs, please contact us today to find out how we can assist you with your next project.

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    Developing Healthier Buildings

    For decades, building sustainability has been steadily increasing with popularity and with that comes the debate of the method’s benefits to the industry. Given that buildings account for 40 percent of energy consumption nationwide, energy efficiency is a major focus for contractors but what about occupant health?

    At Leon Williams Contractors, we understand that not all commercial construction projects are created equally and some have multiple factors to consider. When you take into account occupant health, buildings such as medical facilities, office complexes, and educational establishments should require a different design-build approach than say a warehouse or factory. More and more business owners, especially those in East Tennessee, are recognizing that increasing the healthiness of their buildings can have a positive impact on not only the people inside, but revenue as well.

    According to a recent study by McGraw Hill Construction, interest in occupant health is growing in popularity with an industry-wide commitment to provide healthy buildings and remove the disconnect owners and contractors have with these ideas. Of the industry professionals surveyed for the study, 75 percent measured the impact of construction decisions on occupant health. To them, healthy buildings have caused an indicated 47 percent reduction in health-care costs, a 21 percent improvement in occupant productivity, a 66 percent higher employee satisfaction and engagement rate, and a 56 percent reduction in absenteeism. Given these statistics, it should be clear that placing an emphasis on building and occupant health is very important for overall productivity but what some are not entirely sure about are the factors involved.

    While the surface would indicate building owners and workforces are the ones who benefit from healthier construction, it’s the contractors who are ultimately responsible for these outcomes. By being aware of how important certain factors such as natural ventilation, access to proper lighting, better HVAC systems & filters, and even acoustical comfort are to occupant well-being, a commercial contractor can design a building constructed for true efficiency and gain an edge in a competitive market.

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    Construction Laws You Need to Know

    The foundation of commercial construction has many factors including codes and legality. The laws behind the industry have been put in place for contractors to abide by in order to provide best practices, facilitate compliance, and advocate improvements. Construction law also governs disputes that may occur between the contractor and the client.

    At Leon Williams Contractors, we keep a watchful eye on all aspects of the commercial construction industry – including codes and laws. Being a trusted East Tennessee design-build firm, we also understand how much variance in laws exist from state to state. While laws regarding construction disputes are similar to those found in other parts of the nation, Tennessee has recently made some amendments to parts of its construction laws:

    • General contractors cannot have a similar license name to an existing licensee. New for 2014, this ruling relative to licensure of contractors was recently amended and now, Tennessee general contractors will be denied any application if the board determines that the name they would like to use is identical with or nearly similar to an existing licensee.
    • The Sunset Law that govern the Tennessee state board who oversee licensing contractors has been extended. From now until June 30, 2020, the current board will remain the same.

    While these amendments may seem minor, it shows how often construction law is altered statewide. The reason for the constant changes can be attributed to the growing interest in commercial construction tactics. Newer methods for design-build firms to utilize on a day-to-day basis need rules and regulations to ensure projects are completed legally as well as safely.

    As sustainability grows in popularity, more rulings regarding building codes and ethics are making headlines as well. The International Green Construction Code (IgCC) was the first model code to include sustainability measures for the entire construction project and its site and was recently treated to a round of proposed changes for 2015 with hearings and voting taking place throughout the month of October.

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    Construction Education Boosts Employment, Industry Standards

    Education –including professional development – is a focal point at Leon Williams Contractors as we work to tighten deadlines and streamline the overall building process for our clients.

    With commercial construction industry forecasts indicating modest growth in the next year, contractors will focus on hiring the best of the best to increase quality and efficiency. Both new and time-tested initiatives are powering this push toward higher industry standards and helping to satisfy workforce demands for skilled workers.

    According to the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, by 2020 the United States will experience a shortage of 3 million workers with associates degrees or more advanced education and a shortage of 5 million workers with technical certificates. Addressing this issue means getting creative – and serious – about education options.

    A Resurgence in Apprenticeships to Meet Demand

    One way the industry is dealing with this shortage in skilled workers is by expanding the role and value of apprenticeships.

    This system of on-the-job training has been around since the Middle Ages and is perhaps most heavily used in our country’s construction industry. What’s the status today? The U.S. Department of Labor reported that in 2013 nearly 164,000 individuals entered apprenticeship programs and more than 52,000 graduated from those respective programs.

    The benefits of apprenticeships are clear: higher wages for workers, increased productivity for businesses and access to in-demand jobs and talent for both. There’s room for improvement, however, as support grows for nationally recognized standards rather than the current system of programs that differ across states and employers.

    Formal Accreditation Distinguishes Higher Education Programs

    In higher education, the mark of excellence among those earning associates, baccalaureate and masters degrees in construction is if the American Council for Construction Education (ACCE) accredits the program being completed.

    The goal of ACCE is to maintain standards and criteria for accreditation at colleges and universities across the country. The council also provides guidance to programs seeking the accreditation status and carries out the formal process. Programs with ACCE accreditation help students and employers understand that a specific education program has met stringent standards for content and quality.

    What else does an AACE accreditation ensure?

    1) Program graduates have been provided quality education that enables them to perform their professional responsibilities

    2) The accredited programs undergo periodic self-evaluations to remain current with emerging technologies and construction industry requirements

    3) Programs gain access to nationwide construction industry contacts

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