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

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


    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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    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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    Finding the right space for your restaurant is key

    Leon Williams Contractors, a commercial and residential design/build company, has developed many commercial, residential and retail buildings in Blount County, Maryville, Knoxville, Lenoir City and East Tennessee, in addition to building and renovating existing spaces for many of the restaurants throughout our area. If you are thinking of starting your own restaurant or other food and drink-based establishment, the design-build experts at Leon Williams Contractors can help you find the best location for your restaurant construction needs.

    Leon Williams Contractors restaurant construction

    We provide a full range of construction services, pre-construction consultation and site assessment, construction management, value engineering, and construction management. We can also help you obtain an existing structure and remodel it if that approach makes more sense to your budget and design plans. The main considerations in Maryville, Blount County and East Tennessee to consider for your restaurant planning include:

    You can’t beat a good location. Our familiarity with Maryville, Blount County and East Tennessee can be leveraged to help you find a high traffic location with access to utilities and other amenities to help maximize your opportunity in the restaurant space. The team at Leon Williams Contractors is experienced in finding the right place for the right business throughout our area and can leverage our experience on your behalf.


    Our wide ranging capabilities related to existing space renovation will allow our team to adapt nearly any space to accommodate your restaurant plans. If we deem the existing spaces aren’t useable, we will design and build your space to appeal to you and your potential customers to help create the best possible result for your restaurant location.


    Is parking nearby? Is the restaurant easy to get to? Are there attractive sidewalks and scenery? Are other restaurants and businesses nearby that attract strolling and walk-by foot traffic? We’ll find out if the building codes in Maryville, Blount County and Knoxville will allow a restaurant space to be created and to ensure that there is adequate water, sewer, electrical and even internet connectivity to accommodate your restaurant design plans.

    We know that starting a restaurant is tough, but when you work with Leon Williams Contractors, we can offer expert restaurant construction and build out advice, assist with planning your space for success and we will can design, build or renovate your new restaurant in your chosen location to help you attain your business ownership dreams.

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    Maryville Dog Park at Pistol Creek

    Recently the team at Leon Williams Contractors team was a part of the team that created the new Maryville Dog Park at Pistol Creek.

    The Location:

    Located in Maryville, Leon Williams worked as a part of a joint effort between the city of Maryville, the Maryville-Alcoa-Blount County Parks and Recreation Commission and community leadership in Blount County.

    The Specifications:

    The Maryville Dog Park at Pistol Creek is located adjacent to the McCammon Avenue and McGhee Street greenbelt entrance in Maryville. Open from dawn to dusk, the area includes one acre for large dogs and a separate half-acre for smaller dogs.

    The spaces in the Maryville Dog Park are fenced and feature entry corrals that are double-gated, which allows dogs to be taken off leashes before entering the park. Also included within the space are a pavilion, benches, animal waste stations and water fountains exclusively for dogs.

    The Results:

    In an interview with the Daily Times, Jordan Blankenship, supervisor and project and construction manager at Leon Williams Contractors, said the project took about two-and-a-half months and the biggest challenge was the weather. The park was made possible by a grant from Radio Systems Corporation and was offered through the Legacy Parks Foundation.

    “We enjoyed working with the city and with PetSafe,” said Jimmy Hawkins, president of Leon Williams Contractors. “We’re excited any time we’re able to help the community and provide a beautiful space for our city. The park certainly couldn’t have opened at a better time.”

    For more information about the Maryville Dog Park at Pistol Creek, including rules of use, visit http://www.parksrec.com or call 865-983-9244.

    As a proud member of the Blount County community, Leon Williams has worked with clients on a wide range of retail and commercial construction projects, including banks, medical facilities, commercial offices, residential projects, restaurants, and retail locations.

    To learn more about the advantages that Leon Williams Contractors can offer your retail or commercial construction project, please contact us today. We can assist you to drive greater value for your retail and commercial construction needs.

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    The Design Build Advantage

    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. One of the key areas for the clients of Leon Williams Contractors is our Design/Build Services, which offers distinct advantages for construction clients interested in simplifying their building process. However, some companies and individuals that we have met with are confused about what Design/Build means and how Design/Build can make the construction build process easier for all involved.

    What is Design/Build?

    Leon Williams Contractors Design Build ServicesFor the construction industry, Design/Build is a method that can streamline the building process by taking advantage of the skill sets of the construction team to manage costs and deadlines more efficiently and effectively, delivering one point of contact for the entire construction process.

    An analogy that we like to use to explain the Design/Build process is the example of making a cake; to build a successful cake, you need a number of ingredients that all must come together for your final project. Imagine that you would need different individuals to decide upon the ingredients, more to put the ingredients together in the right proportions, even more to put the cake in the oven, others to pull out the cake at the right time and another set to put the final touches on the cake. With the number of different groups that have responsibility to make sure that their parts of the process are done correctly, you can run into delays, issues and even incorrect ingredients, which would delay the final delivery of your cake.

    If you have one person that is responsible for the ingredients, the baking and the final touches, the chances that something may go wrong decrease dramatically, because the one point of contact is responsible for all aspects of the cake build. The opportunity for success and timely delivery of your cake increases greatly, because the person on point is responsible for everything that goes into making your cake a success.

    Construction Design/Build works on the same principle; as an experienced Design/Build General Contractor, Leon Williams Contractors, LLC works with our clients to create a single point of contract for the entire Design/Build process to offer a clear scope of work and budget that can translate into confidence when approaching the financial aspect of your building project.

    The Design/Build integrated process offers distinct advantages for our clients, including:

    • Reduction in project delivery times
    • Lower number of changes and claims during the build process
    • Ease of continuity between design and contractor teams
    • Single Point of Contact and Responsibility
    • True teamwork on the project

    Leon Williams, LLC has worked with East Tennessee clients on a wide range of construction projects, including banks, churches, industrial projects, medical facilities, commercial offices, residential projects, restaurants and retail locations. To learn more about the Design/Build advantages that Leon Williams, LLC can offer your project, please contact us today to learn how we can assist you with your next building project, general construction requirements, pre-construction consultation/site assessment and value engineering.

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    Roman construction techniques are greener than we thought

    How can the concrete in our building be more environmentally friendly? How can this commercial construction project be “greener”?

    At Leon Williams Contractors, we field these questions with every project we undertake in the Knoxville, Maryville and East Tennessee area. We have many techniques and processes to build a greener commercial construction property.

    While doing some research, we discovered that “green” construction is not a new idea. Yes, the concepts of protecting the environment and being less of a burden are new, but nature-friendly construction methods date back to the age of the Romans.

    Here’s a few of the interesting things we discovered about how the Romans made environmentally-friendly concrete. The Roman method is far ‘greener’ than current techniques, releasing far less carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

    Most modern concrete is derived from lime that has been baked at approximately 2,600 degrees Fahrenheit. These high temperatures create seven percent of industry carbon dioxide emissions.

    The Romans weren’t thinking of carbon dioxide when making their cement, but the strength of their concrete is no accident.

    Did you know that contemporary concrete is designed to last for about 100 years?

    Yet at the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea lie the remains of Roman harbors, buildings and other structures that have remained surprisingly intact for almost 2000 years. What’s the secret to their durable concrete?

    Like modern chemists, Roman builders took limestone and burned it to create lime, a key component of mortar. But then, Roman builders mixed the lime with volcanic ash and saturated the mixture with salt water.

    The reaction between the volcanic ash and the salt water naturally produces a bonding material called calcium aluminum silicate hydrate, or CASH.

    This structure of CASH differs significantly from modern industrial concrete, which lacks aluminum and relies more heavily on silicates.

    Furthermore, an X-ray analysis of the structures revealed that the concrete contains tobermorite, a crystalline material whose structure is considered “ideal”—meaning that the way its molecules arrange themselves is highly organized and therefore very strong–and which is nowhere to be found in industrial concrete.

    Some makers of modern concrete have experimented with using volcanic ash as a substitute for Portland cement, but until now, no one knew how long such mixtures could be expected to last.

    So, if going “green” is important in your next commercial construction project, see what Leon Williams Contractors can offer.

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    Steps to follow after an on-site accident

    Workplace accidents happen. No matter how much employee training or emphasis you place on workplace safety, accidents happen.

    Leon Williams Contractors, a leader in commercial construction in East Tennessee, offers you steps to take following an on-site accident.

    The information that follows is intended to be a general guide for supervisors. The accident investigation process involves the following steps:

    • Report the accident occurrence to a designated person within the organization
    • Provide first aid and medical care to injured person(s) and prevent further injuries or damage
    • Investigate the accident
    • Identify the causes
    • Report the findings
    • Develop a plan for corrective action
    • Implement the plan
    • Evaluate the effectiveness of the corrective action
    • Make changes for continuous improvement

    As little time as possible should be lost between the moment of an accident or near miss and the beginning of the investigation. In this way, one is most likely to be able to observe the conditions as they were at the time, prevent disturbance of evidence, and identify witnesses.

    When accidents are investigated, the emphasis should be concentrated on finding the root cause of the accident rather than the investigation procedure itself so you can prevent it from happening again. The purpose is to find facts that can lead to actions, not to find fault. Always look for deeper causes. Do not simply record the steps of the event.

    Reasons to investigate a workplace accident include:

    • Find out the cause of accidents and to prevent similar accidents in the future
    • Fulfill any legal requirements
    • Determine the cost of an accident
    • Determine compliance with applicable safety regulations
    • Process workers’ compensation claims

    Incidents that involve no injury or property damage should still be investigated to determine the hazards that should be corrected. The same principles apply to a quick inquiry of a minor incident and to the more formal investigation of a serious event.

    So, handle accident investigations quickly to relieve stress on all parties involved. Be sure to follow the proper protocol on each incident and do not cut corners. And finally, be open and transparent.

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