C. Laney & Sons Construction Inc. – Westgate Resorts Redevelopment

image2829 splashC. Laney is rebuilding cabins at Gatlinburg, Tenn.’s Westgate Resorts that were lost in forest fires.
By Alan Dorich

C. Laney & Sons Construction Inc. sets itself apart in its industry by building projects that are tougher than the average job, Operations Manager Luke Laney says. “Some people don’t necessarily want to take them on,” he admits.

The company is at work on such a project that also represents a massive rebuild. Last November, forest fires damaged Westgate Resorts in Gatlinburg, Tenn., and destroyed 79 multifamily cabins that the contractor had built.

“They basically lost more than three-quarters of the resort,” Laney says. “Over the last 16 years, we’d add a building here and a building there.”

C. Laney is reconstructing the lost structures, as well as 27 more that had yet to be built. “We’re building all of that in the next two years,” he says, noting that the cabins vary from 8,000 to 60,000 square feet in size.

Back to Work

C. Laney started rebuilding the cabins on the Monday after the fires were extinguished. The contractor’s previous experience building the units has helped expedite the project, Laney says.

The company also has the plans that were used to build the cabins. “[We’ve reused them] instead of having to redraw some plans and start from scratch like some people would have to,” he says.

Eighty-five percent of the company’s current work consists of cleaning up debris. “We also have to test foundations and things like that,” Laney says, noting that some foundations are being completely demolished, while others are being rebuilt.Laney box

The cabins will have features such as granite countertops, Jacuzzis and fireplaces, but they also are being built to prevent future damage from fires. “Before, not all of them were fully sprinkled buildings for fire protection,” he says.

“Now they all will be,” Laney says. “They’re also considering using metal shingles instead of asphalt shingles.”

Up in the Air

C. Laney copes with a mountainous terrain as it rebuilds the Westgate project. “Sometimes our concrete foundations are 30 feet high,” Laney says, noting that others use structural steel.

“It’s more or less like the houses are on pedestals, up in the air,” he says. “That’s not typical for this type of construction.”

Finding the manpower to complete the work also can be challenging, but C. Laney has been up to the task. “For the most part, we’ve got a pretty good local base here,” he says. “We haven’t had to go out of state for much.”

Learning New Skills

C. Laney has learned new managing skills as it has rebuilt the Westgate project. For example, “We’ve learned some different methods on how to manage subs,” Laney says, noting that the company has dealt with more on this project than it usually does.

But C. Laney has worked well alongside its subtrades. “A good majority of them we’ve worked with a long time,” Laney says, noting that many worked on the cabins when they were originally built. “Everybody’s on the same page and understands what’s going on.”

“We’ve also had to deal with quite a few insurance companies,” he adds. “We’ve learned how to do that and that’ll make us better in the future as well.”

The Westgate project required C. Laney to use a drone more than it has in the past. “That has helped in meetings,” Laney says, explaining that this allows the company to take videos of the project’s progress.

“We share it with the owners,” he says. “Then they obviously share it with the people who own the cabins.” 

Bigger and Better

Based in Sevierville, Tenn., C. Laney builds hospitality, educational, industrial and religious projects in east Tennessee. Laney’s father, President Chuck Laney, founded the company in 1992.

C. Laney’s project managers and superintendents carry extensive experience with highly specialized projects. “Our expertise helps us aid in the design process of the construction management/general contractor and design/build delivery methods because we understand what is feasible for our clients and have a large repertoire of means and methods,” it says.

Luke Laney credits the company’s success to its family ownership and management. Not only is his father president, but his mother Rosemary is its secretary and treasurer and his brothers, Frank and James, are also involved.

Their involvement allows the company to form strong relationships with clients. “When we’re dealing with customers, they’re dealing with ownership, not a project manager,” Luke Laney says.

The family ownership also allows C. Laney to make decisions more efficiently. “We don’t necessarily have to go ask somebody for the answer all the time,” Laney says.

He sees growth ahead for C. Laney. “This project has definitely given us the opportunity to grow,” Laney says. “Over the next two to three years, we’d like to continue to do more projects than we’ve done in the past year.”

Projects in the mountain areas, he notes, are popular with customers. “Everyone wants that mountain look where we’re at,” he says. “That’s a trend that we’re [seeing] all the time.”

C. Laney also wants to add more people. “That’s the big goal for the next two years,” Laney says. “[We’ll] become a bigger, better company, basically.”




Avoiding Accidents

C. Laney & Sons Construction Inc. has kept safe on the Westgate Resorts project. Operations Manager Luke Laney notes that the company employs a full-time safety coordinator that is always on the site.

“He’s got several other people under him as well [that] monitor the site,” Laney says, noting that all workers are required to view a safety video before they can set foot on the site. Afterwards, “They basically get a sticker they put on their hard hat,” he says.



Making Updates

C. Laney’s projects also include work at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK). “Many of the aging facilities on the campus of UTK are being significantly updated to keep up with a changing academic environment, new technologies and competition among other institutions of higher education in the country,” the firm says.

The company renovated the Brehm Animal Science Building, originally built in the 1950s, and the McLeod Food Science Building, which was built in the 1920s. “The aging Brehm Animal Science Building needed not only a facelift and new space planning for its entry spaces, administration areas, offices and support facilities, but it also needed the ability to engage in new technologies throughout the building, especially in the laboratories,” it says.

C. Laney also renovated the animal arena to improve seating, circulation and air quality for its occupants. “The older McLeod Food Science Building was practically rebuilt to modernize administration areas, offices, food preparation areas and laboratories,” it says.

“Additionally, a new Pilot Plant for testing new technologies in mass food production was built up to USDA certification standards,” C. Laney says, adding that it was honored to be chosen for the project.

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