By Kat Zeman, Senior Editor at Knighthouse Media
When it comes to design/build, Denham-Blythe Company is in its element. The Lexington, K.Y.-based design/builder specializes in industrial construction from the initial concept of a project through completion, taking on the role of both designer and constructor.
“That gives us a significant competitive edge,” CEO Bill Quenemoen says. ”We have architects, engineers, designers and construction managers all under one umbrella. Frequently, many companies will call themselves design/build but in reality they are a design firm or contractor that has to partner with other companies to be able to provide a complete design/build package.”
Denham-Blythe has a number of projects under construction in Tennessee and Kentucky, its main operating market. However, the company has worked on projects in other states as well. “We started as a Kentucky-based company but our customers have taken us all over the country. I consider us to be a regional design/builder but with a national capacity.”
Denham-Blythe has enjoyed healthy growth over the past few years. To accommodate the growth, it is constructing a new office building in Nashville. The company has had a presence in Nashville for almost two decades through a small satellite office it has been leasing, but it has outgrown it.
“This new building is necessary for us to sustain our growth in Nashville and the southern design/build markets,” Quenemoen says. “We are really booming in that whole southeastern market.”
The new two-story, 13,800-square-foot building broke ground in fall 2017. Roughly 50 employees are expected to move into the building’s top floor by the end of June. “We plan to lease out the lower level to others initially but will expand into that space down the line as we continue to grow,” Quenemoen says.
Bread And Butter
Since it specializes in industrial construction, Denham-Blythe tackles many projects for manufacturers that need custom-built facilities and warehouses. “Industrial design/build is our bread and butter, accounting for more than 80 percent of our business,” Quenemoen says. “But we do some light commercial and office buildings as well.”
The company has a unique project under construction in Ironton, Ohio. It is building a $140 million recycling facility that will take recycling to a new level.
“They will be using waste polypropylene plastics and recycling them into a high-quality reusable plastic material,” Quenemoen says. “It’s the first of its kind, especially in our region. So it’s a big deal for the overall market. It will change the recycling market here.”
At more than 100,000 square feet, the project broke ground in December and is targeted for completion in 2020. Another high-profile project, completed in October 2017, is a $85 million, 350,000-square-foot aluminum casting facility in Russellville, Ky.
“They recycle cans, shred and melt them and turn them into aluminum coils that are turned back into cans,” Quenemoen says. “One of the challenging things about this project was that they wanted to supply their own aluminum for the siding and the facility was being built on a sinkhole site. So we had to remediate a number of sinkholes below the building.”
Doing It In-House
Denham-Blythe has been providing architectural, engineering, construction management, general contracting and start-up services since 1976. Its clients include healthcare, education, religious institutions, Fortune 500 manufacturers, multinationals and a number of large private companies. The design/build contractor has offices in Nashville, Lexington, Ky., and Greenville, S.C.
Design/build is an alternative to the traditional design/bid/build project delivery method. Under the latter approach, design and construction services are split into separate entities, separate contracts and separate work.
Denham-Blythe credits its success in the design/build construction industry to its staff. Its in-house design team of registered architects and engineers focuses on creating functional, flexible and cost-effective solutions.
“Our people are our greatest asset,” Quenemoen says. “We have the best in-house personnel across the board. This includes carpenters and project managers as well as architects and engineers.”
The company’s in-house engineers prepare preliminary design analysis, design calculations and project documents. The team can make quick adjustments in design, scope and methods that affect scheduling. “We can control the design and schedule and expedite projects to keep them on schedule and within budget,” Quenemoen says.
The Denham-Blythe construction management method focuses on components that allow the customer to remain involved with the design team and construction crew throughout the process. “At the end of the day, we live and die by our customer services,” Quenemoen says. “More than 90 percent of our business is repeat clients. If we did not treat every project as the most important one, we would not have that kind of return customer statistic.”