By Karen Hawthorne
Not many companies can take on a construction project from start to finish. Denham-Blythe has been doing just that for more than 40 years across a wide range of industries. The secret? An excellent team of designers and builders under one roof.
Take a walk through the streets in any American city and you will see impressive buildings – from office towers to hospitals to factories. What you don’t see is the all the vision, time, planning and work that goes into the construction of these buildings.
Raising these structures takes hundreds of people. You’ve got architects, engineers, contractors, equipment operators and more, so often the biggest challenge becomes managing the people and their competing voices to keep the timelines moving and on budget.
That is the hard work that takes place even before one shovel goes in the ground. Then, when construction does start, different factors such as safety, logistics and other unexpected issues must be managed. Few companies are able to take their clients through all these steps of a construction project without having to subcontract work out.
Denham-Blythe is one company that can.
With its 40 years of design and build history, this company knows how to get it all done. The “Design-Build” delivery method is really about covering all the steps in a construction project from the point of sketching out what a building may look like to designing it, and ultimately building it from the ground up.
Denham-Blythe got its start from two engineers out of the University of Kentucky in Lexington, where the company is headquartered, who saw the value of having all people working on a project sit down at the same table to prevent obstacles before they crop up. Now, Denham-Blythe has two additional offices in Nashville, Tennessee and Greenville, South Carolina, boasts 200 employees, and has handled more than 10,000 projects for clients across diverse industries, including manufacturing, automotive, food, pharma and healthcare. It also takes on different sizes of projects from small startups to Fortune 500 companies.
“We do work on buildings associated with everything from bananas to Post-It Notes,” says Michael Patterson, Executive Vice President of Construction and Business Development for Denham-Blythe.
“Our relationships are so well established because the customer has one person to talk to. It’s a single point of communication and responsibility,” Patterson says. “Having all the forces in house is actually very uncommon. You will see people and companies that offer ‘design-build’ but realistically, there are very few in the industry that have all of those design disciplines and construction capabilities employed full-time in their company.”
The company takes pride in being able to tackle the more complicated projects because of its diverse and specialized staff. About 85 percent of all the work the company does is turnkey with Denham-Blythe handling the entire end-to-end design and construction.
“We have a saying here that if it’s a difficult, challenging project then that’s a perfect Denham-Blythe job,” Patterson says. “We have the whole package for design and build elements, including architects, civil and structural engineers, mechanical, electrical – all of those disciplines along with the construction forces as well. So we enjoy those projects and it sets us apart from the competition.”
And some of the projects can be incredibly complex. For example, one of Denham-Blythe’s clients required a major processing line renovation in its factory. “That’s not anything abnormal for us in general; but we ended up working in the middle of a functioning facility. So we had to rebuild the line while not interrupting production on either side of it.” Oh and by the way, the factory was producing specialized glass, the kind that you see on an iPhone, so the margin of error during all this work was zero.
So, with two glass production lines working on either side, the Denham-Blythe team carved out the middle of the plant and made the new part of the building deeper by taking it down 20 feet into the rock to create the height needed for the production line. “Just logistically putting that in the bullseye or center of a functioning glass manufacturing facility was very interesting, very challenging. It involved some very major cranes and a lot of planning,” says Patterson.
To accomplish all this, the company had six teams work continuously, seven days a week for about six months. “It was very high-risk work but we didn’t have an accident either, so we are very proud of our safety record on that one.”
Other significant projects the company is currently working on include a 29,000-square-foot, three-floor expansion of cable manufacturer Okonite Company’s logistics building in Orangeburg, South Carolina. This involved expanding the dock area of the facility as well as creating 75,000 square feet of paved parking for trucks. Denham-Blythe was also chosen to design and build a 270,000-square-foot plant for DAE-IL Corporation, a powertrain and parts manufacturer for the automotive industry.
What is even more impressive is that during the work on all of these large-scale and complex projects, Denham-Blythe has more than 1 million safe man hours of work – that is the equivalent of about 35 months of work. The company has been recognized with Governor’s awards in both Kentucky and Tennessee for its work excellence as well as its safety record.
“Safety for us is a value and a cultural element,” Patterson says. “The numbers are more than just numbers; it’s really what we value and we take it very seriously. We start each meeting with a safety topic, and all of our projects have a job hazard analysis.”
These high safety standards qualify the company to bid on projects for larger, more robust companies. It’s these larger companies that actually pre-screen potential contractors to ensure that they have a solid safety track record.
Along with all the success Denham-Blythe has achieved, the challenge to continue to recruit and hire the best talent is firmly on the radar. “We are seeing a turning of the tide now to more interest in vocational programs and construction trades, because people are realizing you can make a good wage.” To scout out future talent, Denham-Blythe has established a co-op program where high school students have the chance to get a real-world view of how things work at the company.
But there’s more to what the company does than steel and concrete. Certain jobs stand out for their impact on the lives of people and the environment, which is an important legacy for the company.
For example, “We will be working to build a game-changing plastics recycling facility,” shares Patterson. “It will be brand new in the industry and we are very proud to be part of that opportunity. It should be under construction in the last quarter of the year. We also work in healthcare building so we know that we are doing work that helps people directly.”
The Murray-Calloway Economic Development Corporation hosted a groundbreaking ceremony to welcome DAE-IL Corporation (DIC) to the community in Murray, Kentucky, the future home of their first U.S. production facility.
The $50 million facility is expected to create 120 new Kentucky jobs for production, engineering, technicians, and other skilled professionals. This is the largest startup investment ever in Murray, Kentucky.
DAE-IL Corporation is headquartered in Ulsan, South Korea with primary export markets in China, Germany, Japan, and the United States. DIC manufactures and sells powertrain parts for automotive, heavy equipment, and motorcycles. With clients including GM, Hyundai, Kia, and Tesla, the global demand for electric vehicle parts pushed DIC to build this new facility in the United States.
“Our company motto is to be the best powertrain maker in the world. It is our target and dream, and we will work hard to achieve this title,” said DIC President and CEO Johnny Kim during the groundbreaking ceremony. “I believe our goal will be fulfilled here in Murray, Kentucky.”
Denham-Blythe Company was selected to design and build the 270,000 square-foot plant that is being built in the Murray-West Industrial Park. The facility will include offices, a warehouse, and a forging and machining facility. Construction is expected to be complete in May 2019.
“Denham-Blythe Company is excited to be a part of this major investment in Kentucky,” said Bill Quenemoen, CEO of Denham-Blythe Company. “DAE-IL will have a huge positive impact on the region with so many great employment opportunities. We are looking forward to working with DAE-IL and the Murray-Calloway County Economic Development team on this project.”
Denham-Blythe Company is a design/build construction company with over 40 years of experience in the automotive, industrial, food/pharma, healthcare, office, and distribution sectors. Since 1976, Denham-Blythe has completed more than 10,000 projects across the U.S. and in Mexico for a diverse customer base that includes local start-ups and Fortune 500 companies.
By Jordan Ferguson
MURRAY — Mark Manning, president of the Murray-Calloway County Economic Development Corporation, said Tuesday that he and the rest of the EDC were excited to be welcoming DAE-IL Corporation’s new U.S. headquarters to the Murray-West Industrial Park with an official groundbreaking at 2 p.m. next Monday, July 23.
Manning told the Ledger that the new corporate entity from South Korea would be able to provide some 120 quality jobs to people within the Murray and Calloway County community.
“We have been working with this company for quite some time, and we are not just excited, we are really thrilled to have them join the community here,” Manning said. “In the recruiting process, we had help from a lot of different people.”
Manning said the new company is a very high tech company with a lot of automation.
“These are not low-skill jobs, and the fact that it is a U.S. headquarters will mean that they will be hiring not only hourly employees, but also engineers and technicians and higher wage jobs,” Manning said. “The products they make are quite sophisticated. They make gears and other components for, primarily, the automotive industry. My understanding is they do a lot of business with Hyundai and Kia already down in Alabama and Georgia. But also I think they will be doing quite a bit of business with Tesla, which I find interesting.”
Manning said they are looking at a very large building, some 300,000 square feet, which will come to a $50 million investment in building and equipment.
“It is about 120 jobs, but they are good jobs. And quite frankly, that is our target now,” Manning said. “We are not chasing that 500 and 1,000-employee plant because we need some diversification. When all you have are really big plants and one of them unfortunately closes, the impact on the community is really tough.”
Manning said the EDC is targeting a plant for about 100-250 employees, and he said they only recruit what they consider to be blue chip companies.
“What good would it do to recruit a company that comes in and makes a low-tech product with minimum wage jobs?” Manning said. “There is a place for that, but we are looking for those companies that are going to raise the bar instead of lower it. And if a company comes in and it doesn’t do something to raise per capita income, then you probably don’t need it. Murray is not a desperate community; we can afford to be choosey.”
Manning said there has been a move by the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development to recruit more companies from South Korea, and he has hopes that having an international presence in Murray is a good flare for the community.
“Having a German company here, having a Korean company here — Saputo is a Canadian company — we like having that international flare, and we think that adds to the overall quality of life in the community,” he said.
Manning said that over time, he feels that DAE-IL will also be a good source for students leaving Murray State University. That could be through providing them with an internship opportunity, or a potential job after graduation.
“I think that over time there will be the opportunity to develop internships,” Manning said. “Murray State is really good at working with these companies and developing a pool of talent. When you have a headquarters company from overseas, it creates a lot of local opportunities that you might not otherwise get.”