J.D. Beam Inc.

J.D. Beam Inc. put the finishing touches this spring on Alliance Center One, a five-story office building with adjacent car parking deck on North Carolina State University’s (NCSU) Centennial Campus. Although the office building is equipped with many state-of-the-art features, it is the lobby that is getting all the attention on campus, earning the nickname “The Cube.”

“The Cube is the name attached to the two-story lobby in the front of the building that is structurally glazed, all glass and no metal is exposed on the outside,” President Glenn Kistler explains. “It’s a 40 by 40 by 40 space that’s all glass; the interior is wood flooring with an acoustical fabric ceiling. That’s why they call it the cube. ‘I’ll meet you at the cube,’ they say.”

The lobby or “cube” is the gathering place for tenants to come and network with colleagues and graduate students, which Kistler says is the whole point. The university was one of the first to allow private developers to enter into a land lease on campus for an extended period of time. “The developer builds and owns the building that they lease to tenants, which must have a relationship with the university,” he says. “The cube is a place for graduate students and the private industry to meet in a social setting. It promotes continued interaction that can lead to a further understanding of what each is doing and building relationships.”

Alliance Center One

J.D. Beam was contracted in the 1990s to build the university’s first public-private development: the Venture Center. “Alliance Center One is also a unique project in that it’s a privately owned building on publicly owned land,” Kistler adds. “NCSU was one of the first university campuses to do this. The tenants in the buildings often employ students, interact with them, share research with professors or have earned the right in some way to be on Centennial Campus.”

Alliance Center One is a five-story office building consisting of about 150,000 square feet of class A office space. Adjacent to the office building is a three-story, 525-space parking deck. The project began in October 2013 and the shell of the building was completed in March 2015. “We just finished moving in the last of the graduate programs into 25,000 square feet of the building,” Kistler says. “Because of the economic times, we worked on this project for three years in terms of budgeting, planning and design before we broke ground. It took a long time to get construction financing, but once the developer was able to do that, it turned loose in a big way.”

The Alliance Center One building is “breathtaking,” Kistler says. Each floor is 30,000 square feet with state-of-the-art features. ABB, a Swiss-based company that develops power and automation technologies for utility and industrial customers, is the lead tenant in the building. The company relocated its employees from other locations

“We had the last inspection in late June and they are as happy as they can be,” Kistler says. “The building is 86 percent occupied and everything was completed on schedule.”

Good Relationships

Kistler has learned in business that who he and the business are associated with is very important. The subcontractors that will help you succeed in a project are vital and, collectively, a lot of positive things can result. 

“This was a good project for our company, our subs, our client and the university because we all worked together and it resulted in the Alliance Center One,” he explains. 

Too many different goals or concepts can drive wedges into a construction project, Kistler says, but J.D. Beam was lucky it did not run into that on this project. “We had good support from the bank, the owner’s representatives out of Chicago, the local developer and the university,” he adds. “Having good people on this project made a big difference because construction began at a time when many office buildings were not being built on the East Coast and some projects weren’t even getting out of the starting gate.” 

J.D. Beam prides itself on long-term relationships not only with its clients, but also with its subcontractors and suppliers. One of its strong suits is the ability to contract for projects that have design/build components. This separates us and the subcontractors working with us from our competition, Kistler says. “We have really strong superintendents who run good jobs, treat people fairly and the subcontractors know that,” he adds. “We have a good reputation and get a fair shake at contracts in town.” 

Historically Consistent

J.D. Beam was founded in 1979 with the goal of being a company that provided the highest level of service to its customers. In the beginning, the company constructed interior fit-up projects and smaller publicly bid projects, as well as private retail construction projects.

Today, the Raleigh-based company celebrates 36 years as a mid-size general contractor that specializes in the design/build of commercial projects. Although it still builds interior fit-up projects, J.D. Beam builds larger projects, including mid-rise office buildings, hotels and industrial parks. “A unique part about our company is our continuity,” Kistler says. “Our senior management has an average length of service of 29 years. We are a very consistent company in an industry that is transient by nature.” 

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