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Woodruff Companies renovate Fort Dodge headquarters

Change highlights design-build process

December 16, 2012
By TERRENCE DWYER, , Messenger News

The headquarters of Fort Dodge-based Woodruff Construction Co., 1890 Kountry Lane, has undergone a major renovation. This complete reworking of the company's corporate offices reflects a commitment to the design-build approach to construction and incorporates concepts and innovations that are cutting-edge options in today's evolving construction world.

"We wanted to have a more efficiently run office," said Don Woodruff, the company's president. "Technologies have changed and the way in which we went about doing business has changed."

Producing a work space that facilitates the team approach central to the company's business philosophy was a key goal according to Woodruff.

"There is more collaboration among our project managers and our team - less isolation," he said. "We tried to get it so we could have a private side and a public side. The private side is a little more surreal, a little more quiet where we can concentrate, be more efficient and get work done. We also wanted to make it a more inviting and enjoyable area to work."

Woodruff said the end result of a properly designed work space that incorporates state-of-the art thinking regarding such factors as natural light, physical arrangements to promote collaboration and the impact on employee morale of an array of environmental considerations is a more efficient company.

"If you have more natural light, you have a more comfortable work environment, people are more productive," he said.

Fact Box

Design and construction highlights

The functionality and finishes of the existing office were altered to showcase a variety of finish options for potential clients to see.

The renovation allowed for better and more extensive use of natural light.

Public and private areas were separated. This was accomplished by constructing a channel glass and wood panel wall.

Floor plan modifications created a more efficient layout. A large break room was created that serves both the office and warehouse staff, facilitating more informal interaction between these members of the Woodruff team as well as with field crews.

A large, glass wall separates the main conference room from the primary space, allowing visual access to the exterior. Studies have indicated that employees who have access to natural daylight and the ability to see outside perform better in the office and have fewer absences than those do not.

The large conference room showcases how a glass wall can be used in spaces that require audio privacy.

For clients who are interested in using environmentally friendly materials, the project showcases an array of floor and wall applications

- Source: Memo from Dirk Westercamp

The design-build approach to construction involves a dialogue between the client and the contractor from the earliest design phase of a project through the completion of a structure or renovation.

Woodruff said that the methodology the company used internally to bring about the transformation of its headquarters was identical to the approach it advocates for clients.

"Our design team - Woodruff Design - went through the same design-build process that we take our customers through," he said. "We had meetings and everybody who was associated or would be affected by the construction was involved."

Woodruff said the goal is to elicit detailed input from all the people who will work in the space regarding the design elements that would most efficiently facilitate their interaction and collaboration on the work projects they will handle in the completed facility.

Architect Dirk Westercamp, who leads the Woodruff Design team, said one of the goals of this project was to feature at the company's headquarters an array of innovative design features that could be relevant to potential clients.

"In this instance, because we are both an architectural firm and a general contractor, we went out of our way to try to show a variety of innovative uses of materials," Westercamp said. "We tried to show a lot of things."

The Woodruff Cos.

Some companies enter the marketplace and are gone in a heartbeat. Those that survive and prosper typically have discovered how to provide customers with solutions that outpace the competition and exceed client expectations.

Woodruff Construction, established more than a half century ago, is not only a survivor, but has aggressive plans to be a major player in its industry for many decades to come.

Founded in 1956 by Jack Evans and Leonard Woodruff as Woodruff-Evans Construction, by the 1980s the company was owned by Woodruff. It entered the 21st century with Woodruff's twin sons, Don and Bill, at the helm. Don Woodruff serves as president. Bill Woodruff is chief executive officer. The Woodruff brothers are the principal owners, but Don Woodruff said there are also minority investors. The company headquarters is in Fort Dodge at 1890 Kountry Lane, but it also has a major facility in Ames, an additional office in Iowa City and is active in that growing market. Woodruff Design, an architectural subsidiary that is a key component of the Woodruff game plan to respond to customer needs, is also based in Ames.

Woodruff construction provides contracting services for commercial, light industrial and governmental clients. In addition to new construction, it frequently tackles significant renovations and facility upgrades.

The creation of Woodruff Design a decade ago reflects a decision to emphasize an approach to construction that integrates the architectural design and construction processes.

Called design-build, its goal is to create a seamless construction process with a maximum of communication among the designer, builder and client from the conceptualization of a project to its conclusion.

According to Don Woodruff the design-build approach allows the builder to begin communicating with the client at a very early point in the construction process. He said that provides a building's owner with the benefit of the construction firm's insights during the design phase.

Woodruff said developing communication and rapport with the customer at a very early point in the process helps establish trust. That in turn can lead to a long-term business relationship as well as enhance a construction company's image in the community.



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