Expanding on the Story of the Excel Expansion
Excel is no stranger to growth. It appears that in the last 31 years, we have continued to get bigger and get better. Our first step in growing came when we moved offices from Campbellsport, WI to our current building in Fond du Lac. But our office today does not remotely resemble the office we moved into 25 years ago. When we first moved into the building it held a staff of 50 people. At that point, we were only offering architectural, structural, civil, and surveying services, so the building served us well. In the coming years, we continued to expand on our offerings, as we added cold-formed steel, mechanical, electrical, and plumbing design, and dairy process engineering. With those services came more employees and we were due for our first addition. By 2002, our building could cater to a staff of over 100 people. Following a similar pattern, in the years 2014 to 2021, we continued to add more capabilities and employees, which sparked the need for an addition to our front entrance in 2016, and our largest addition yet in 2021.
In 2019, we began planning for our fourth expansion. The process we put into action was the same one we use when developing practical and precise plans for our clients. As a collaborative unit, our departments began work on the expansion. Our first step was to understand our list of needs and goals. Our first goal was to expand our current seating capacity by over 100 workstations. The second goal was to create an additional meeting, training, and entertainment spaces.
We began our design process by forming a collaborative team across the various Excel Departments. Our core team consisted of Jeff Quast - Project Owner, Grant Duchac – Civil, David Vanden Avond, Ned Derksen, Elliot Pieper – Architectural, Heather Waltz – Interiors, Ben Ihlen – Structural, Dough Kant, Rober Polglaze – Light Gauge, Jay Oestreich, Michael Olk – Plumbing & Fire Protection, Matt Gross – Electrical, Jason Neubauer – Low Voltage, Matthew Coursey – HVAC. In this team, we challenged ourselves to answer the questions of “how” we work as a company and “why” we need to provide building functions to our employees and clients. Together, the team began to weigh their options for the expansion. As we embarked on our design process, we explored one-, two-, and three-story options for the addition. The one-story option was quickly ruled out, as it did not meet our goal of adding 100 workstations. We did heavily consider the three-story option, but building space was a limiting factor. To build the three-story option, we would need more space to build the parking lot. Thus, making the two-story option the obvious choice, as we added the number of workstations desired and had enough parking space.
The team settled on a loft design for the two-story addition for a few reasons. Currently, in the Excel building, teams are housed on one level, making collaboration easy. We felt it was important to keep our employees physically connected, so the loft was the best choice. The loft design made the work area feel larger than it truly is and allowed for the large windows that provide a fantastic view of the courtyard.
Our vision was to construct a modern, state-of-the-art facility that enhanced our overall working environment. Providing a Class A working space will improve our ability to recruit candidates from other communities. It was important to maintain a unified look throughout the entire building while being able to incorporate new products and trends. As this applies to the exterior, we wanted the addition to architecturally complement the existing building and be more visible from the highway. The ultimate vision of this project was to design a fun place to work, hence the addition of a large wooden slide.
The addition of a second story to our building meant that we achieved our goal of becoming visible from Highway 41. This newfound visibility meant we needed to make some changes to the exterior of the building. We added the Excel logo to the back of the building as well as installed multi-color LED lights on the façade to add ambient lighting. Additional updates made to the exterior of Excel are solar panels, charging stations for electric cars, and expanded parking lots to accommodate our employees and visitors.
The entrance to the expansion from the existing building holds one of our most personal touches of the office. What appears to be a gray distressed wooden floor becomes so much more when you look a little closer. Incorporated within the floor planks are eight different patterns containing architectural plans, elevations, and details. It makes the floor unique to our industry and serves as a reminder of the joy we feel when our ideas become a reality.
The expansion includes a brand-new library for our Interior Design and Furniture Procurement services. The design of the 642 square foot space assists our team in their constant venture to combine function with aesthetics. A Ketra lighting setup allows different illumination levels and color temperatures to be simulated for color and material selections specific to each project. The room layout is an open floor plan to accommodate the interactive material selection process. The library serves as a space for our Interior Design service to work freely and let their creativity flow.
The first floor of the expansion is now home to our Electrical department. The group will enjoy working in the natural light shining in from the east-facing 2 story windows. The first floor holds 50 cubicles in the center of the space surrounded by 14 offices. The first floor also features 2 workspaces for collaborating with teammates, a conference room located near the slide, and the other in the southeast corner.
The second floor of the expansion is occupied by our Pre-Cast department and Excel Studio. Designed much like the first floor, 30 cubicles sit in the center of the space, with 11 offices lining the outside. The two east-facing corners of the layout hold conference rooms with large surrounding windows that overlook the courtyard. The abundance of windows throughout the loft allows the entire floor gets to soak up the sun. While the natural light is great, the second floor features a few other benefits. The second floor also houses an outdoor lounge patio complete with outdoor seating and two fire tables for some after-work fun. But the greatest perk of all, the second floor is home to a wooden slide that extends down to the first floor.
Continuing to Grow
Excel is no stranger to growth, as this project marks our fourth addition to our current building; and even the fourth time around it is still just as exciting. Even in a space filled with new collaborative workstations, a slide with a 14-foot drop, and a sleek new Design Center, we are most eager about the number of seats added that we can grow into. This opportunity for growth means fresh faces, innovative ideas, and the possibility of taking on new services. With the completion of the expansion, we achieved our goal of creating a state-of-the-art facility that would enhance our ability to serve our clients. Through this project, we can continue to do what we love the most – get better.
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