Continued demand initiating many new, ground-up construction projects
Despite all the challenges of 2020, West Michigan continues to see growth in the industrial/manufacturing segment and a lack of available inventory for businesses looking for space to meet their current and future needs.
Wyser Innovative Products, professionals in laser cutting, manufacturing, and fabrication, walked this very road several months ago. The company was experiencing fast growth and needed more space. Rather than seeking out an existing facility, they chose to partner with developers on the construction of a new building where they had a say in the design and could eventually attain full ownership.
“When we first began to evaluate our options, there wasn’t much available, and quite frankly, there still isn’t. If we had chosen to move operations to an existing building, we would have had to make too many compromises.” ~John Kyser, Owner
With a lack of existing inventory, and the need for space to accommodate companies experiencing growth, we are seeing a shift in the overall design, layout, and features typically found in industrial buildings. Looking ahead, we anticipate more companies will require open, flexible, energy efficient workspaces, as well as space that allows them to consolidate all business functions into one location.
Historically, industrial and manufacturing structures have looked pretty much the same – buildings consisting of four walls, a few overhead and drive-in doors, warehouse/manufacturing areas which are broken up by supporting columns and a couple hundred square feet of office space in the front. However, as companies have opportunities to reimagine their space, buildings will become more high-tech and open with flexible, configurable spaces to meet the businesses’ changing needs.
“Finding space for an industrial/manufacturing company used to be about finding the right sized box. Now, it’s about much more. Companies are looking for space that is customized for their unique operations and optimized for efficiency. Businesses are also recognizing, now more than ever, the impact that space has on individual performance and team synergy. As a result, industrial and manufacturing buildings are becoming highly technical and specialized in ways we have never seen before.” ~Ty Hallock
New industrial/manufacturing spaces are moving to include:
- LED Lighting: Provides greater energy efficiency that is more cost effective and better for the environment.
- Tall Ceilings: On average, five to ten feet taller than in the past. This extra height feels less restrictive and offers more room to operate (i.e. large machinery).
- High-End Finishes: Custom glass, glazing, and metal panels, as well as varied roof lines and changes in parapets all contribute to a more attractive space that employees enjoy working in.
- Increased Column Spacing: A critical structural support in these types of facilities, columns can limit flexibility and function. Newer buildings have been redesigned to require fewer columns allowing for open space and flexibility.
- Customized Layouts: Unlike the “cookie-cutter” facilities of the past, which required companies to force-fit their operations into the standard space provided, buildings are now being designed according to the specific operations of each business.
- Space for Growth: Constructing from scratch allows companies to build according to their long-term business goals, which often includes adding space for future expansion.
- Building to Own: Business owners are taking advantage of the opportunity to invest in their future by structuring agreements that result in part or full building ownership.
Developers are seeing the benefits of this new building model, too; however, they are discovering that these new features aren’t as easily incorporated into traditional steel structures preferred in the past. As a result, we are starting to see more precast buildings, like the new, multi-tenant, industrial/manufacturing development, constructed by First Companies, along 68th Street. Constructed completely of precast panels, this building (with a second like it on the way) is well insulated and incorporates LED lights making it highly energy efficient. The concrete panels, expertly designed by Kerkstra Precast, provide tall ceilings and require only one row of well-spaced support columns giving its tenants plenty of open space for flexible layouts.
“I have seen a number of large, national developers move towards total precast structures as it provides increased flexibility and energy efficiency, making it a better long-term investment. The number of total precast buildings isn’t as concentrated in the West Michigan area just yet, but given we are able to achieve a heightened level of efficiency and specialization, it’s only a matter of time. This is certainly a trend worth keeping an eye on.” ~Greg Kerkstra, Owner, Kerkstra Precast