Business Leader Insights

Seth London - Business Leader Insights

This year is a special one for LeChase. The company is celebrating its 75th anniversary, and we’ve been operating in the Carolinas for the past 20 years. In an industry where statistics show most firms don’t make it beyond five years, we take special pride in reaching those milestones.

Of course you don’t achieve that kind of longevity by working alone. That’s why at LeChase we often say that building partnerships is as important as building projects.

Many times, focusing on relationships results in repeat clients like Duke Health, as you will see in our project spotlights section. Through our on-going relationships, we also seek to build advocates among other industry firms. In fact, another featured project – the Enterprise condo development – resulted from our history with the project’s design firm.

But partnerships aren’t just about getting work. We also partner with professional and community organizations to promote and strengthen the overall industry. As one example, we recently conducted a session for the Hispanic Contractors of the Carolinas leadership program – as you can read in one of the news stories linked below.

Another story talks about the WayMakers initiative we are developing in partnership with the Durham Public Schools. This program provides high school juniors and seniors an opportunity to learn skills that, upon graduation, will make them ready for employment, apprenticeships, or additional education to embark on a career in construction. Similarly, we are engaged with the North Carolina Business Committee for Education and William Peace University on an initiative to attract more women into architecture, construction and engineering fields.

I have no doubt that these types of relationships – with clients, industry partners and communities – have been key in helping LeChase reach its current milestones. I can also assure you that we remain committed to strengthening our partnerships as well as building new ones. It really is as important as building projects.

Project Highlights

Even small projects can have their share of logistic challenges. A recent 2,800-SF renovation within the Duke Regional Hospital seemed pretty straightforward. It involved reconfiguring existing work areas on level 1 into office, conference rooms, training rooms and classrooms for the hospital’s Educational Services group.

Because the work was within an active hospital environment, however, the team needed to follow Infection Control Risk Assessment (ICRA) procedures. In addition, they had to ensure Life Safety Systems were available while electrical, mechanical, fire alarm and fire protection systems were being reconfigured to serve the new space.

They also faced some unexpected challenges. After permits were issued and demolition started, the floor plan was re-worked. As construction began, the owner requested that the team break the project into phases to accommodate movement of staff out of and into the old and new spaces.  That meant rather than completing a task – like demolition or drywall – across the entire project, the team had to schedule subcontractors to complete work on one section, then repeat the cycle on the next.

Luckily, an experienced project team is able to adjust the workflow to address changes as they arise. In this case, the team accommodated all requirements and requests and still completed work within the allotted timeframe.  In fact, based on the success on this renovation, LeChase was awarded another project at the same facility.

QUICK FACTS:

  • LeChase’s role: General Contractor
  • 2,800-SF renovation
  • Reconfigure workspace into offices, conference rooms, training rooms and classrooms
  • Reconfigure electrical, mechanical, fire protection and fire alarm systems for new spaces
  • Started: October 2018
  • Completed: February 2019

Even before construction started in January on Duke University’s new Chiller Plant 3, LeChase’s preconstruction team had been hard at work on the project. Initially, plans had called for an expansion of an existing chiller plant; however, with growing energy needs for heating and cooling campus buildings, the plan changed. LeChase, Duke’s utility group and designers worked out details for a third plant that would provide high-efficiency, low carbon energy. They also broke the work into phases to meet near-term and future needs.

Phase 1 covers improvements to the 7.38-acre site and construction of a two-story building to deliver 7,500 tons of chilled water to the medical center and schools of medicine and nursing. The building will also include space to add future capacity. In addition, a one-story building will be constructed to house electrical switch gear and materials.

Phase 2 will add more chilled water capacity, as well as a heat recovery system generating hot water, to supply planned redevelopment on central campus.

With the recent notice to proceed on construction, teams started by installing high voltage electrical ductbanks at the site. Grading of the site is now underway and work on the physical structure will commence later in March.

The project team expects to deliver phase 1 of the plant in mid-2020. A second phase, which will add additional capacity for chilled and hot water, will happen at a later time in conjunction with further development on the school’s central campus.

QUICK FACTS:

  • LeChase’s role: Construction Manager
  • Scope: Construction of a 46,422 square foot, two-story building capable of providing
    • 22,000 tons of chilled water capacity
    • 60 MMBtu of hot water capacity
  • Start: January 2019
  • Expected completion: Summer 2020

Currently, LeChase is working on three projects with the architecture firm MHA Works – including Enterprise Condominiums near Raleigh.  Given a history of successful collaboration on previous projects, MHA recommended LeChase to the owner – Lambert Development – for construction of the 51-unit luxury residence.

LeChase is also an ownership partner in this project, which will be built adjacent to the Cameron Village Shopping Center. It will consist of a post tension concrete frame with a façade combining masonry and metal panels. Large windows will provide residents with ample light as well as great views. A mixture of one-, two- and three-bedroom floor plans will be available.

Having connected on the Enterprise Condo project, Lambert is now partnering with LeChase on second project scheduled for Raleigh’s South Street.

QUICK FACTS:

  • LeChase’s role: Construction Manager
  • Scope: New construction of building that will house 51 luxury one-, two- and three-bedroom condominiums
  • Expected groundbreaking: Late summer 2019
  • Expected completion: Spring 2021