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.

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    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

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    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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    Whatever your taste, Leon Williams Contractors will design and build your eatery

    Franchises and chains go from flairy to airy

    One of our design-build niches in the Knoxville area is restaurants. We handle design services and construction from soup to nuts.

    Our list of restaurant projects ranges from the new Panda Express at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga to the new Dairy Queen that opened earlier this year in Maryville. While we have completed fine-dining facilities for Green Meadow Country Club and the J. Milton and Five Oaks steakhouses, we are especially adept and experienced in the construction of franchise restaurants, including Starbucks, Moe’s, Which Wich and Chick-fil-A.

    Dairy Queen - Maryville Tennessee - Leon Williams Contractors

    Most franchise agreements include design stipulations, and we adhere to the requirements of the franchisor throughout our design-build process. We also stay abreast of design trends, so we can steer franchisees in the right direction as soon as the project commences. Some franchisors also require periodic upgrades and changes in décor to keep their restaurants unique, fresh and trendy.
    Many, though not current clients, are going for the sleek, minimalist, modern and airy look:

    • Applebee’s: The restaurants known for their somewhat kitschy wall décor are transitioning to a sleeker appearance. Two prototypes feature an open kitchen and place more emphasis on the bar and open areas for socializing. You may have noticed another change in recent years: table-top computers for gaming, ordering and settling the bill.

    • TGI Fridays: The casual chain is also doing away with its flair. A prototype in Corpus Christi, Texas features high ceilings, a more open dining room, blond wood and simple yet aesthetic table tops and chairs. That’s a far cry from the cluttered living-room feel of the original Friday’s, which opened in New York City in the 1960s as a singles bar.

    • McDonald’s: Even the mighty Golden Arches have gotten a makeover in recent years. Many of the changes you may have noticed are actually imports from foreign McDonald’s. Franchisees can now choose from a variety of styles such as “Allegro,” “Form,” and “Living Room.” It’s part of the burger giant’s own drive toward a minimalist aesthetic to escape its cookie-cutter past.

    So be warned and beware: Some of your favorite restaurants may lose their flair. But we’ll always help our restaurant clients achieve the design and look they want, be it kitschy, modernist or country. Contact us today to see how.

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    Construction labor crunch = Greater Knoxville opportunities

    Leon Williams Contractors an attractive place to work

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    “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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    Leon Williams Contractors can ensure your medical facility buildout goes well

     

    Be it urgent care or a full doctor’s office, we keep patients in mind

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    By some counts, there are nearly 11,000 urgent-care and retail medical clinics in the U.S.

    The reasons for their proliferation are manifold, but most patients cite convenience, better accessibility and lower relative costs for care. Most doctors agree such clinics are largely acceptable for urgent services such as colds and flu or routine services such as blood tests, but the clinics should not be considered primary-care centers. Regular medical checkups are best handled by your personal physician to ensure continuity of care. And of course, if you just cut your fingers off with a table saw, you want to head straight for the emergency room.

    While convenient and cost-effective, retail clinics and walk-in medical providers are very utilitarian in nature. That means they probably lack design features customary in some health care settings to put patients more at ease and reduce the cold, clinical feel of a medical environment.

    Leon Williams Contractors has designed and built medical facilities for years. We can put our design-build expertise to work on a new eye clinic, dentist office or even urgent-care center. But we will never scrimp on design and appearance. That’s one benefit to our design-build system: Clients can engage early and often to ensure the design of their medical facility is exactly what they want.

    Here are a few things we will keep in mind when envisioning, and ultimately building your medical facility, in Knoxville, Maryville or beyond:

    • Tech-savvy. Technology is a major driver in medical facility design. Some technology components, such as check-in kiosks, should definitely be accounted for at the design stage. Some medical facilities even incorporate pneumatic tubes to more quickly move lab results around a building.
    • Room to grow. Allow for expansion and reorientation. Given the vast changes in the way health care is provided, we can ensure your design allows for reconfiguration if another doctor joins the practice or new services are offered.
    • Let in the light. Research indicates patient outcomes improve when medical facilities are well-lighted via sunlight. Our experts can ensure your design includes ample light and other features, including color choice, so your patients are relaxed and receptive when their name is called for care.
    • Meet halfway. Some medical facilities overdo it with fancy and redundant accoutrements that can drive up prices. We can help ensure your facility is attractive and aesthetically pleasing without becoming too showy.

    There are enough patients to go around, and there’s a reason for the explosive growth of urgent-care centers and walk-in retail clinics. But whether you are an eye doctor, dentist or physician wanting to build or expand a “traditional” medical facility, we will bring decades of expertise. Our design-build process can accelerate you toward your ultimate goal: Offering the best care and service to your patients.

    Contact us today for more information about medical facility design trends or to discuss your doctor’s office design-build options.

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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.

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    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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    Straight to dessert: How the design-build method can save new restaurateurs

    Dairy Queen - Maryville Tennessee - Leon Williams Contractors

    More Americans than ever are dining out, and comfort food is a big draw. People want food that harkens back to their childhood, like meat loaf, chicken and dumplings, and pot pie.

    Your grandmother made a lot of her best dinners from scratch, but she likely still found ways to cut costs and increase efficiencies without sacrificing flavor or quality.

    The same thing can be said of building a restaurant from scratch: A good design-build firm can reduce costs and add value without sacrificing the quality and draw of your new restaurant.

    The Leon Williams team has helped design and build multiple restaurants in Maryville and throughout the Knoxville area, ranging from franchise sites to original casual concepts.

    Having a single contractor that handles both the design and actual construction offers numerous – and cost-saving – benefits, so you can focus on achieving your culinary dreams.

    Here are five ways the design-build approach of the Leon Williams team can cut costs and not quality:

    1. We can leverage our resources to obtain all permits, submit site plans and receive municipal approvals while you can focus on staffing, eventual inventory and furnishings.
    2. We will work with our pre-qualified subcontractors and vendors to provide a high quality job completed on time and on budget.
    3. We can again leverage our contacts to streamline purchase orders, so you can occupy yourself with the menu instead of your restaurant’s mechanics. We can also help prospective restaurateurs with practical, cost-saving advice on elements ranging from flooring types to ceilings.
    4. The time saved using the stream-lined design-build approach means you can open your restaurant or franchise more quickly – leading to faster opening days, which ultimately means more revenue.
    5. We have vast experience in the restaurant construction realm, so we are already familiar with frequent challenges or potential pitfalls that come with building and opening a new eatery.

     

    It might seem that leaving both the design and construction in the hands of one project manager might cut you out of the loop, but according to testimonials from our customers, rest assured your concerns will be heard, your ideas will be welcome, and your dream of restaurant ownership will come true.

     

    For more information on how we can assist you with your restaurant construction, 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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    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.

     

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    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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    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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    Building for the future: 2017 Southeast Construction Trends

    Commercial construction has a healthy outlook for 2017, with a rise expected at a rate of 5.6 percent in 2017 after a growth of 5.8 percent in 2016. While recent changes may cause these numbers to show slight variations throughout the year, the team at Leon Williams Contractors believes that commercial construction in Blount County, Knoxville, Lenoir City and Maryville should meet or exceed expectations in the coming year.

    Commercial Construction Leon Williams Contractors Design Build Services

    At Leon Williams Contractors, our principals have been designing and building for the residential community and for the commercial needs of Knoxville and East Tennessee since 1964. For generations, Leon Williams Contractors has worked with commercial clients throughout our area on a wide variety of projects. While we have seen a number of trends in commercial construction come and go throughout the years, we believe that these predictions will be a part of construction trends in the Southeast for 2017:

    1. Importance of Design/Build

    The use of design-build services versus traditional design-bid-build services will continue to grow in 2017. Design-build services are designed to lower unit costs, improve construction and delivery speed, while also reducing unnecessary growth related to costs and schedule. With nearly 40% of non-residential design and construction being created as design-build projects, the benefits of working with design-build partner like Leon Williams Contractors can create better outcomes for your commercial construction projects in the coming year.

    2. Utilizing Site Assessments

    As commercial construction grows in 2017, understanding the importance of site assessments will be critical for businesses that are looking to grow their footprint without expanding their costs exponentially. Utilizing a site assessment program as a part of your commercial construction planning can help to identify, assess and pre-plan for potential issues prior to the construction process, allowing businesses to save time and budget overages.

    3. Jobs Growth for Skilled Construction Workers

    Anticipated growth in the commercial construction sector is a potential boon for those looking for jobs related to construction in the coming year. With construction employment rising in 39 states in the past year, opportunities are available for skilled construction workers, although the existing pool of skilled workers continues to dwindle. To help find and train more skilled construction workers to meet demand in Tennessee, the state created a program in 2016 called Go Build Tennessee to help encourage young people that are interested in the construction and contracting industries to become skilled tradesmen. The team at Leon Williams Contractors is committed to the growth of the trades in East Tennessee, Knoxville, Blount County, Maryville and Lenoir City and encourages those looking for job opportunities in our area to pursue a career in the skilled trades!

    2017 is shaping up to be a busy year for the commercial construction industry in our area, so if you are looking for assistance with commercial construction or design build services in Blount County, Knoxville, Lenoir City or Maryville, contact the team at Leon Williams Contractors for more information about our services.

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