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Words With Jeff Elkins | Senior Project Manager | Wespac Construction

Industrial Tenant Improvements: what you need to know

DESIGN ASPECTS: WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT ASPECT OF INDUSTRIAL TENANT IMPROVEMENT PROJECTS?
The relationships between the owner, architect, design team, construction and subcontractor teams. This expands our 3-Legged Stool Concept, which is a collaborative process typically between the architect, builder and client; providing the owner with additional partners for design and construction.

AS YOU REFLECT ON PROJECT EXPERIENCE, ELABORATE ON
THE IMPACT OF THE EXPANDED 3-LEGGED STOOL APPROACH

Many of the Industrial Tenant Improvement projects are one-
of-a-kind – relocation of a space that has taken many years
and phases to build, or a fully custom never-been-built before
operation. This can present challenges related to design, code
upgrades, subcontractor selection, construction and many other
items. Wespac has encountered and overcome many of these
challenges by collaborating with first-class teams for architectural
and MEP design. Selecting the correct design team on industrial
projects is as important as selecting the general contractor and
subcontractors. For instance, if your project includes a Group H
Occupancy, you will need a design team familiar with code and
life safety requirements for a
Group H Occupancy. These spaces
are not common; however, Wespac has recent experience with them
on multiple projects.

 

Collaboration is key. For example, the Isola project relied on an internal
design team of experts and operators who designed and purchased
custom equipment for their operations. The team prepared layouts,
identified mechanical and electrical requirements, then coordinated final
design and code requirements with the design and construction team.
The architectural and MEP design team then worked with code and
permit requirements to produce Construction Documents. Wespac and
our subcontractors assisted the design team based on constructability,
experience, and historical cost information.

DESCRIBE A CHALLENGING ASPECT THAT BECAME AN AREA OF EXPERTISE
Typically, equipment design for custom manufacturing and operational equipment can take months, and in some cases years. Wespac has encountered many projects with custom equipment that is not approved by a
Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL) – for example “Underwriters Laboratory” (UL). Often, owner’s have the option to have equipment manufactured with an NRTL approval or a post manufacturing NRTL approval; however, due to cost and time restrictions, this option is not considered. This is especially commonplace in equipment manufactured outside of the United States.

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Most of the jurisdictions in the Phoenix area require all equipment to be listed by an NRTL prior to connecting power to the equipment for testing or operations; simply put, this is a safety requirement that protects the owner and the municipality. As we looked for a solution, our team created a strategy that includes partnering with a local company that can provide field evaluation and field compliance inspections for non-compliant equipment. We work closely with our subcontractors to modify equipment to meet NRTL requirements, while maintaining all operation and warranties.

PROJECT BUDGETING: CHALLENGING ON MOST INDUSTRIAL IMPROVEMENTS

As discussed,Industrial Tenant Improvement projects
are very unique; many of these facilities are custom
and do not exist or have not even been built before.

The design of these projects typically evolves over months of collaboration between end users, the design team, and construction team. For example, when Wespac partnered with Power One, design meetings were twice a week, for up to 3 hours, for over a year, as the facility design expanded and evolved. This presents challenges when preparing overall project budgets for this type of work. Wespac has continued to refine our estimating process for Industrial Tenant Improvements to help solve these challenges. Engaging a general contractor and experienced subcontractor team to assist with design and budgeting early in the design process is essential to project success.

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HOW DO YOU MANAGE PROJECT DESIGN & SCHEDULE?

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As many of these buildings are leased and the owner team wants to move as quickly as possible, the front office portion of the project typically out paces the industrial or manufacturing portion. When working with PowerOne, Benchmark, Isola and Pill Pack, the office tenant improvement portion of these facilities was finished before much of the manufacturing space was designed and submitted for permit. This sequence of work allowed the owner’s team to be onsite to help with design, layout, mechanical, electrical, and plumbing facilities for owner-provided equipment. With all manufacturing operations, timing is critical. Wespac utilizes our Systematic Building Process to coordinate design, and early procurement 

of mechanical and electrical equipment that typically have long lead times, to expedite project schedules on Industrial Tenant Improvement projects.

WHAT OTHER CHALLENGES HAVE YOU ENCOUNTERED WITH THESE PROJECTS?

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it being visible to the public and from roadways. Rooftop unit screening typically requires structural modifications to the building. Wespac works closely with the design team to include these items in the initial design to avoid delays
in permitting. Our team has also assisted with creative solutions to minimize costs
for screening. For instance, the City of Tempe wanted a steel structure for screening a 40’ tall dust collector at
LAI.

Depending on the municipality, screening of ground and rooftop mounted equipment may be required.
The equipment is screened in order to avoid

Wespac recommended a fabric and steel structure to save costs; we partnered with the City of Tempe and
were able to receive approval for this option; providing a significant cost savings for
LAI.

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DO YOU HAVE A FINAL THOUGHT ON THIS MARKET TYPE IN ARIZONA?
In my opinion, the Industrial market is going to continue to be strong throughout the Valley for the foreseeable future. Available land, reliable utilities, and low likelihood of natural disasters makes the Phoenix Metro Area a great location for this type of business. Wespac will continue to pursue making these projects a success for our clients!

ABOUT WESPAC

Wespac is a general contracting and construction management firm, offering a full range of preconstruction and construction services in a variety of market sectors. From small tenant improvement projects and follow-up service requests to large shell and master-planned communities, Wespac has the ability to serve our clients throughout the entire project lifecycle. We pursue the art of construction, while contributing knowledge, leadership, passion and commitment to every employee, client and project team. Since 1991, we continually strive to provide each client with a level of service that creates appreciation, value and confidence. When you work with us, you quickly realize that we’re more than just a general contractor—we’re an extension of your team. It’s evident when you meet our people, when you visit our jobsites, and most importantly, when you see the finished product. Aside from our passion for building, there is something that is deeper within the heart of Wespac. Giving back to the community is something that we have always been passionate about. From attending local community events, to hosting Arizona’s only 100% non-profit music festival, Wespac always has charity in mind. We have also been acknowledged as a highly organized, proactive and client-centric contractor. With more than 85% of Wespac’s portfolio being repeat or referral clients, our 30+-year history speaks for itself.