Choate Construction Co. - MSC Industrial Supply Co.

When MSC Industrial Supply Co. announced it was building a second corporate headquarters on 14 acres in Davidson, N.C., the company knew that time would be of the essence and that the rapid cooperation of local officials would be crucial. “When you’re up against a tight deadline, every piece needs to fall into place,” says Jeff Reagan, vice president of supply chain engineering for MSC Industrial Supply Co. “In my 20 years of experience, I’ve seen that collaboration and cooperation with local jurisdictions can present a challenge. Davidson was a totally different story. They were incredibly collaborative and helpful – in fact, Mecklenburg County and the city of Davidson supported our schedule better than I’ve ever seen before. It’s been an incredible working relationship, and they should be commended. The speed at which they’ve been able to expedite processes has been phenomenal. Nobody on the project has ever seen anything done like this.”

The distributor of industrial tools and supplies for metalworking and maintenance, repair and operations decided to open a corporate office in Davidson, N.C., to complement its existing headquarters in Long Island, N.Y. Part of this project entails relocating a contingent of MSC’s workforce and inventory from Long Island to the new six-story, 180,000-square-foot building in Davidson. The fast-track schedule for the building meant that construction began before its design was completed.

“We were limited by the local ordinance on the height of the building,” Reagan says. “We had to double the amount of grade beams in it just because we needed that flexibility from a scheduling and design standpoint. We actually permitted the shell on Jan. 31, 2013. So we went in with a site clearing and grubbing permit, conducted a foundation permit, then did a full site permit and a structural steel permit. The last permit was the upfit for each floor.”

Approximately 90 auger cast piles were drilled from 20 to 90 feet deep to anchor the structure’s concrete slab foundation. Construction of the $37 million structural steel building began Aug. 16, 2012, and is scheduled for completion in mid-July. That deadline is firm so associates transferring from Long Island can move their children between school years.

Cutting-edge Design

The energy-efficient building’s exterior is architectural pre-cast panels with brick in-lay and a custom painted curtainwall system. Its roof is a white single-ply membrane, and it uses many sustainable elements in its design, which was developed by RuleJoyTrammel+Rubio.

MSC executives toured many corporate offices such as Cardinal Health and Google to come up with the freshest office concepts and to avoid what Reagan calls “Dilbertville” – a boring office interior littered with conventional cubicles for its 750 associates. “Culture is very important to MSC – we were looking to build an experience that was open and encouraged collaboration,” Reagan says. “We will have informal areas to support this, where folks can grab a cup of coffee, have small group meetings and work on laptops with wi-fi throughout the building.”

Most of the building will be used for general corporate operations. The first floor will include a full commercial kitchen and dining area, meeting areas, a grand lobby and reception area. Also on the ground floor is the associate training room in a half-round stadium design with multilevel seating and three large-screen monitors.

The lobby consists of 12-inch by 24-inch natural stone tiles, floating ceilings, mill work and wallcoverings. The ceiling is finished with 2-foot by 2-foot acoustical tiles with a 1-foot opening around the perimeter of the core to provide for the HVAC return air. This design eliminates the need for return air grills in the ceiling.

Contractor Chosen

Reagan worked on selection of the contractor – Choate Construction Co. – and the approximately 20 subcontractors that have worked on the project. “For the subcontractor market, Choate requires all subcontracting firms to go through a pre-qualification process in order to assure that only qualified subcontractors work on the projects we build,” emphasizes Dave Priester, Choate’s Carolinas managing principal.

At the peak of construction, from 200 to 250 people were working on the project. Building information modeling was used to assist with clash detection and the installation of mechanical and electrical equipment, underground piping and foundations.

Choate Construction has five offices located throughout the Southeast and is licensed in 30 states. Currently, Choate is building in 11 states. The company has performed projects throughout the United States in corporate, automotive, industrial, institutional, retail and hospitality markets and has built parking structures and senior living facilities.

Priester stresses Choate Construction’s emphasis on quality construction. “Quality is only one part of the construction equation,” he notes. “Along with quality, you have safety, cost and time. With the exception of safety – for which no sacrifice is ever made – all of these must be carefully balanced to meet the customers’ requirements. We do this well, which has resulted in our enjoying repeat business of over 70 percent from past clients. Safety is always paramount at Choate. Each office has a full-time safety director, and each and every employee at Choate is responsible for ensuring that every job we build is the safest it can be.

“The MSC office building helped to reinforce our past experience for how we approach fast-track projects,” Priester adds. “Through great communication with all those involved, Choate is able to deliver quality projects with a very aggressive schedule.”

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