A Look Back


    Leon Williams Contractors celebrates a year of milestones in 2018

    It’s been a busy year for Leon Williams Contractors, and we’re proud to look back at our biggest projects of 2018.

    Foothills Church

    In March, we completed construction of the new 33,000 square foot Foothills Church (FC) building in Maryville. By attendance, FC is the largest church in Blount County. The new space serves as an auditorium and creative space for the congregation’s Sunday services.Foothills Church built by Leon Williams Contractors

    Constructing a church with such a large capacity and with advanced technology provided several challenges. LWC had to work with Foothill’s Church’s audio/video consultant to ensure that the piping and conduit placement for the state-of-art audiovisual system was considered during every step of the building process. As with any addition, the flow of both vehicular and pedestrian traffic connecting the new spaces to the existing was a big concern to ensure the two buildings are used efficiently.

    LWC has been a construction partner with Foothills Church since 2011 when the church purchased a building formerly known as Thunderworld, helping FC transform the facility into a place of worship.

    University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

    In August, we completed two projects at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, including three new dining options at the school’s West Campus Housing building and a complete renovation of Crossroads Dining Hall.

    In August, we completed the renovation of the 13,000-square-foot UTC Crossroads Dining Hall. That project included replacing all the furniture, food stations and fixtures in the facility and adding a Mongolian grill concept and sushi machine.

    We also built out facilities for three new dining options – Einstein Bros.® Bagels, Dippers southern fried and grilled chicken, and a Provisions on Demand (P.O.D.) quick-serve store – inside UTC’s new West Campus Housing building.

    The West Campus Housing project and the Crossroads Dining Hall renovation were the 13th and 14th projects we’ve completed at UTC.

    Allevia Technology

    In September, we began renovating a former bank branch building in a commercial district near downtown Maryville for Allevia Technology, a local computer repair and business IT company. When it’s completed, the 2,700-square-foot modern, open-design office space will provide a fluid work environment for Allevia’s 10-person staff.

    While we’re proud of our accomplished in 2018, we’re looking ahead to an exciting 2019. Contact Leon Williams to learn how we build or renovate facilities for your church, business, or educational institution.

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    Leon Williams Contractors Completes 2018 UT-Chattanooga Construction and Renovation Projects

    Maryville, Tennessee-based commercial design-build firm added new spaces to UTC’s West Campus Housing building and renovated Crossroads Dining Hall in 2018

    MARYVILLE, Tenn. – Aug. 24, 2018 – Leon Williams Contractors, a Maryville-based commercial design-build firm, has completed two major projects at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga that will have positive impact on students and faculty starting in the fall 2018 semester.

    The company built three new dining options – Einstein Bros.® Bagels, Dippers southern fried and grilled chicken and a Provisions on Demand (P.O.D.) quick-serve store –  as part of the new flagship West Campus Housing building and completed a full renovation of Crossroads Dining Hall, UTC’s main student dining facility.

    “These two locations are central to the UTC campus, so it’s essential that students and faculty have positive experiences there,” said Tyler Forrest, associate vice chancellor for budget and finance at the university. “We also want these facilities to present the university’s commitment to quality and excellence, which is something we share with Leon Williams Contractors.”

    The three new West Campus Housing dining concepts account for 6,500 square feet of the 231,000-square-foot West Campus Housing building. Renovation of the 13,000-square-foot Crossroads Dining Hall included replacing all the furniture, food stations and fixtures, adding a Mongolian grill concept and sushi machine, and installing a new state of the art kitchen exhaust system to reduce cooking smoke and smells outside the building.

    “These are two very different projects, but what they have in common is that they’re presenting a range of new opportunities for students at UTC,” said Jimmy Hawkins, president of Leon Williams Contractors. “West Campus Housing was essentially a project within a project – we had to work closely with the building contractor to coordinate our work inside their construction site.  Crossroads Dining Hall was similar in that there were two other extensive construction projects occurring on the floors above the space at the same time.”

    The West Campus Housing project and the Crossroads Dining Hall renovation were the 13th and 14th projects completed by Leon Williams Contractors at UTC. The projects took place between February and early August. UTC’s fall semester started Aug. 20.



    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.


    Heather Ripley
    Ripley PR

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    Leon Williams Contractors dishes on some current restaurant design trends

    Restaurant design changes as East Tennessee appetites persist


    Americans love to eat. They especially love eating at restaurants. Americans now spend more money each year dining out than they do preparing their own meals at home.

    This provides a wealth of opportunities in the Knoxville area – for food suppliers, beverage companies and restaurateurs big and small. It creates opportunities for Leon Williams Contractors, too. Our restaurant design-build services have been used by franchises and for higher-end independent restaurants, too. But whether you are a franchise operator or building the private restaurant of your dreams, you need to stay on top of ever-changing American dining habits and demands. Now that 2018 is halfway done, here’s a quick look at four restaurant trends that will likely drive design-build approaches. Some may be fleeting, but some are likely here to stay.

    Pickup and delivery: It can be an annoyance when circling a packed parking lot to see spots reserved for “pick-up” customers. But those customers are becoming the lifeblood of an industry eager to keep pace with burgeoning meal-delivery services. Restaurant designs will increasingly add parking and integrate more pickup stations, to serve both third-party delivery companies as well as those who want to pop in and out with a full meal to take home.

    Noise reduction: Decibel readings at some restaurants actually enter the harmful range, and it’s a common complaint YOU HAVE TO YELL AT YOUR DINING COMPANIONS to engage in even sporadic conversation. Add a mediocre jazz trio, and you might as well resort to sign language or semaphore. The reasons vary, as do the solutions. In a move toward sleeker restaurants, designers have axed drapes, luxurious upholsteries and carpeting that used to absorb sound. Tile, steel and blonde wood, not so much. As the problem persists, expect restaurant design to include softer wall coverings, acoustical tile and carpets.

    Local, local, local: Be it in appearance or on the menu, diners want a reflection of their local culture and cuisine in their favorite eateries. We’re not talking about country kitsch-laden walls a la Cracker Barrel. We mean more along the lines of repurposed native wood, or displays by local artists or photographers. Budding restaurateurs may consider display cases of local products offered on the menu: Think Benton’s bacon, Blackberry Farm baguettes, or local honey. People want to feel a local connection to their food.

    Tabletop payment: More restaurants are going to try to more subtly incorporate those tabletop terminals into their décor. They are rather cumbersome to some diners, but many appreciate there is no need to give up their credit card to a stranger for five minutes. They can also be used to distract kids with games and leave reviews, and as a glance at any Yelp account will show, people love to leave reviews. Almost as much as they enjoy dining out.

    Ultimately, you decide how you want your restaurant to sound, feel and operate. We can guide, and be guided, every step of the way. Contact Leon Williams Contractors today for the best restaurant design-build options in East Tennessee.

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    Leon Williams Contractors will help answer the call to expand your church

    We are putting the final touches on what will be, by seat count, Blount County’s largest church. The planned grand opening of the new 33,000-square foot facility at Foothills Church is set, appropriately, for the Easter season. The previous location will serve as classrooms and a learning center for children.


    The church has had a number of rebirths, and we’ve been there along the way. It started in a school, then moved into a former arcade and entertainment center. Each time, church leaders felt the call to expand. The need for a larger facility was obvious and quantifiable; three services occur every Sunday.

    While church leaders often feel called to expand to accommodate their flock, there are some very down-to-earth principles to follow before embarking on a major renovation or expansion.

    As part of our process, we guide congregations throughout preconstruction planning and the design-build phase, but here are some things to consider before proceeding with a new church:

    • Develop a master plan. Don’t just think about the next step, but consider the next 30 years. Articulate a vision. Do you want to offer a family-life center? Have a commercial kitchen? Open a school? What are your anticipated square-footage needs? Having a vision for the future can justify the first step toward expansion or a whole new church.
    • Conduct a car and head count. It might seem as if you have good turnout, but numbers don’t lie. You are going to need this information when it comes time to plan a new sanctuary or auditorium. From these numbers you can project how many people are attending and how your congregation travels to your building. This can also help justify any variances or approvals needed from municipalities to allow the project to proceed.
    • Identify a feasible site. You probably don’t want to move across town, but does the proposed site accommodate the new structure or expansion, have adequate parking and landscaping and provide good egress or ingress? We designed a traffic circle for the Foothills parking lot because of one sole entry and exit point.
    • Keep infrastructure demands in mind. Many churches use a lot more power these days because of auditorium-style services, audio-visual equipment, musical performances and the sheer size of the facility. Make sure you have access to an adequate power supply. The same goes for sewage needs. Don’t plan on too many bells and whistles if you want to open a large church in the country.

    We have built and renovated churches throughout East Tennessee. If you feel the calling to expand, contact us and we can help every step of the way.

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    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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