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Sunday, 15 September 2013 22:00

Rockford Construction Co. starts new chapter

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Rockford Construction’s new headquarters features smaller offices, but more collaborative space, as shown above, will help foster the company’s corporate culture, executives said. Rockford Construction’s new headquarters features smaller offices, but more collaborative space, as shown above, will help foster the company’s corporate culture, executives said. PHOTO: ELIJAH BRUMBACK

GRAND RAPIDS — For the first time in 12 years, all of Rockford Construction Co.’s employees will be under one roof, a move the company’s executive team feels is crucial to its future innovation, collaboration and competitiveness.

The construction firm last week officially cut the ribbon on its new 35,000-square-foot corporate headquarters on Grand Rapids’ West Side at the corner of First Street and Seward Avenue.

The repurposed manufacturing plant was converted into offices arranged in an open concept with all 225 employees on one floor, while boardrooms and meeting space take the upper two levels.

Placing all employees on one floor was a key decision in selecting the facility, said Mike VanGessel, CEO of Rockford Construction. While workers’ individual spaces are actually smaller than at the firm’s previous offices in Cascade, people have more opportunity to collaborate because they’re all on one floor, he said.

“You can’t be as efficient on multiple floors,” VanGessel said, noting having all the employees under one roof, including the tradesmen, provides the company a “full-circle of creativity.”

The company is shooting for a LEED gold designation for the facility, but could potentially hit platinum certification, VanGessel said.

Some sustainable features include an efficient building design that reduces the number of square feet per employee by 30 percent and provides a 12-percent reduction in operating expenses per employee. The building also has a green roof designed to collect storm water, low-flow plumbing fixtures and rescued ash planks spanning three stories in its atrium.  

In transitioning to the new neighborhood, VanGessel said the company toured the West Side with employees to get them comfortable with the area. He also helped educate them on the history of the neighborhood, which VanGessel knows firsthand having grown up there.

“It’s not the (central business district), but it has its advantages,” he said. “We’re accessible to our subcontractors and other partners here. In my view, this is a neighborhood in transition. I’m hopeful that with the energy building down here, some of the voids start to get filled in.” 

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