The decision makers at Oregon Printing Communications were facing a common business challenge. As their industry evolved into new technologies, they needed space for expansion. The challenge: Invest in the current downtown location or relocate to encourage and support continued growth.
As with most business decisions about growth, that was just the first question to be addressed. Because their decision had the potential to create either great benefit or great harm, the partners reviewed the options with various contractors. They considered the options of selling their building in East Dayton to buy something new or doubling the size of their current location--from 5,000 to 10,000 square feet.
Judd Plattenburg, President of Oregon Printing Communications, and his partner, Vice President Bob Allbery, didn't want to overinvest in the area, but were concerned that moving would leave them owning an empty building downtown. Nothing felt right, Plattenburg said, until he, Allbery, and JZ Construction Managing Member Jeff Samuelson sat down for an hour and talked.
A Common-Sense Approach
"Jeff really listened to what we wanted to do and what our needs were," Plattenburg said. "He showed us how we could use significantly less space and maintain adequate parking for our customers. While we talked, I could see the wheels turning. He started sketching something out, and all of the sudden it all fell into place. We could visualize where everything would go. It just felt really good and natural."
Samuelson, a licensed architect, developer, and builder, was able to call on his various areas of expertise to bring both vision and practicality to the job. His diverse background and ability to really listen to his clients are among the qualities that set JZ apart from other contractors. Both training and experience enable him to see a space conceptually and determine how it can best function to serve the client's needs. Clients rely on him to identify the business-based, most cost-effective solution.
In Oregon's case, Samuelson quickly digested the partners' needs--both current and future--and suggested an addition that was simple and efficient, and that maximized the space available at the landlocked North June Street site. For example, once he realized that scrap paper consumed a significant amount of space, he showed them how a canopied outside area protected by a chain-link fence was an easy and practical fix for storing the paper for recycling.
"It was really Jeff's vision," said Allbery. "His was such a common-sense approach, we didn't even want to bid it out."
Knowing What to Question
That decision proved to be crucial even before construction began. When Samuelson submitted plans for the addition, the building department informed him that to meet the recently updated ADA Accessibility Guidelines, they must include a new bathroom in the addition, as well as enlarge the bathrooms in the existing structure. That work would have eaten away at the limited space and budget available. It would have required cutting through concrete to reroute the underground plumbing, and added some $30,000 to the price tag.
But Samuelson questioned whether that work was really necessary. He reviewed the 2011 Ohio Building Code and successfully demonstrated to the city that the original plans satisfied the requirements of ADA.
"It very easily could have been a deal-breaker," Plattenburg said. "Jeff really went to bat for us."
The 2,035-square-foot addition now houses Oregon's mailing operations and will eventually contain the digital business, as well. Although it was built to be highly functional for Oregon's needs, Samuelson made sure that the design would be practical for other uses, should Allbery and Plattenburg decide to sell the building in the future.
Managing the Unexpected
The clients were exceptionally pleased with the entire JZ team, they said--even when workers unearthed some bad news. When it was time to begin excavation, soil testing revealed that the area under the new addition had been an old foundation, not properly backfilled. Resolution required excavating a large area 12 feet down, removing the bad soil, and refilling and compacting it with new soil before being able to pour the footings for the addition. The new parking lot, too, had buried materials from the demolition that needed to be removed.
"The way JZ approached the situation was the best way they could have handled it," Plattenburg said. They presented the worst case but strived for the best. JZ let the partners know that the work could run as much as an additional $35,000, but it ended up costing less than $14,000. "I'd rather hear the worst and then be pleasantly surprised," Plattenburg said.
JZ's project manager for the Oregon job, Douglas Keech, says this is how he handles any snags that may arise: "In case of unexpected surprises, I make sure I have a solution and a realistic cost for good-quality work before approaching the client. But then I shop around to see if I can create efficiencies. In this case, I couldn't be sure of what we'd find below the surface, so I was able to control costs by being onsite. It's always a good day when I save a client $20K!"
Completed in August, the addition for Oregon Printing Communications is key to enabling the company to grow, with mailing operations that are "going great," said Plattenburg. It all comes from listening to the customer, knowing when to ask questions, coming up with smart solutions, and delivering value, JZ style.