Leon Williams Contractors’ design-build experience positions us well for the future

    Here are five construction trends to look for in 2018

    Efficiency is more than a buzzword to us. Our design-build model vastly streamlines the construction process in multiple East Tennessee construction sectors, including church, retail, restaurant and medical construction.


    It seems the entire construction market is catching on to the need to streamline projects from the design to building phases. Efficiency – from preconstruction to modular construction – is top of mind in many predictions of top 2018 construction trends.

    Here are five trends to look for in the construction sector in 2018:

    1. Growth rates will vary by sector, but overall nonresidential construction, which we specialize in, will grow about 3 percent in 2018. That growth could be higher or lower, of course, depending on everything from the final structure of federal tax reform to whether long-awaited infrastructure spending will materialize on the local, state and federal fronts. Interest rates remain low, and if corporate tax cuts proceed, that could arguably inject more capital into the economy.
    2. Increasing costs of supplies and labor will prompt construction companies to further identify cost-saving measures. Our economical design-build and value-engineering model is ahead of the curve, and look for more companies to adopt this approach. We already have years of experience with this method, and we cut costs, not corners.
    3. Technology will continue to drive and enhance our design-build process. From project management reports via smart phones to 3-D design methods and active use of social media, we will stay on top of these tech trends to better communicate and plan your project from beginning to end. That’s yet another hallmark of our proven design-build process in East Tennessee.
    4. Technology will also continue to drive safety improvements. As the construction market roared back to life in recent years following the Great Recession, injuries and fatalities at construction sites increased, too. We follow strict protocols at every job site to ensure our employees and site workers are working as wisely and safely as possible.
    5. Look for more state and federal programs to teach construction fundamentals to younger generations to address a labor crunch in the construction market. In Tennessee, that includes Tennessee Promise, a scholarship program geared toward getting more adults a secondary education, including vocational training.

    The prognosticators may not be perfect, but one thing is clear as we head into 2018: It’s going to be another great year for our design-build construction company in Maryville, Knoxville and elsewhere in East Tennessee. Contact us today  for more information.

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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


    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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    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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    Retail Store Technology Trends on Display this Black Friday

    It won’t matter if the turkey isn’t yet out of the oven, retailers will open earlier than ever this Thanksgiving and Black Friday, showcasing in-store technology that is changing the landscape of the holiday shopping experience as we know it.

    From multi-channel shopping to more personalized store experiences, commercial construction gets a tech boost this holiday season as retailers vie to capture the attention and loyalty of consumers.

    Here’s a look at the trends:

    Tech Integration – Brick and mortar stores will be more technologically connected than ever. For example, Apple Stores are putting iPhones in the hands of employees so they can assist customers and process payments from anywhere in the store. Others are integrating LCD displays that create more customized, interactive buying experiences for shoppers.

    Multi-channel retail and outreach – The buying experience isn’t what it used to be. Stores must connect the online buying journey to the in-store experience. An example of this is streamlining the process so consumers can flag products they like online and pick them up inside the store or return them inside the store in a seamless way. It is also important that the design of your online store matches the design of your brick and mortar location, so that the consumer has the same visual experience regardless of how they shop.

    Personalization – Is it possible for technology to enable a more personal Black Friday shopping experience? Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology lets Bluetooth 4.0 devices (think PayPal Beacon) communicate with mobile devices and send customized notifications based on where shoppers are in a store – this can mean receiving special deals for certain products in one area of a store and other offers for another area.

    From the design-build process to putting products in the hands of consumers, there’s no doubt technology is revolutionizing the start of the holiday shopping season. Leon Williams Contractors has the experience to develop a retail location that highlights your technology offerings and the branding for your East Tennessee location.

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    Wood Can be a Sustainable Solution in Commercial Construction

    When you hear the term “wood construction” you might not automatically associate it with sustainability. But wood actually offers many benefits as an environmentally friendly commercial construction building material.

    Exactly how is using wood good for the environment? Wood building materials help increase energy efficiency throughout the life of a building. When considering greenhouse gas emissions, pollution and other factors, materials like steel and concrete produce more harmful emissions and pollutants than wood. According to the American Forest Foundation, steel and concrete generate up to 300 percent and 225 percent more water pollutants than wood.

    In what others ways does using wood in the design-build process help reduce energy consumption and add to sustainability?

    –       Energy Efficiency – Wood is an excellent insulator and helps slow the conductivity of heat.

    –       Carbon Storage – Wood stores carbon and is a good alternative to materials that use large amounts of fossil fuels to produce.

    –       Long Lifespan – Wood stands the test of time as a sturdy building material and is simple to use and maintain.

    –       Renewable Resource – Wood is the only naturally renewable mainstream building material over the long term.

    Leon Williams Contractors is committed to the efficient use of wood building materials in our commercial construction projects in East Tennessee. Learn more about our process.

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    Project Profile: Westbrook Center

    Westbrook Center, a 13,000 square foot retail center located at 2016 W. Broadway Avenue in Maryville, was a design-build development completed by Leon Williams ContractorsWestbrook 115 Westbrook 086 Westbrook 085 Westbrook 079 Westbrook 043

    There was extensive preparation prior to the build, due to the plot not being conducive for development because of the grade. We worked extensively to grade the lot and poured a concrete retaining wall behind the structure, in addition to stepping the building grade at each tenant separation in order to create a cost effective and attractive retail center.

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    The completed Westbrook Center features, what are called, “vanilla boxes,” which allow tenants to completely customize the interior. However, we completed The Bed Store finishes, which is located at the center of the location.

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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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