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Dallas’ Best Office Finishes Are Coming From A Company With An Industrial Heart

The lobby of NTT Data

Industrial warehouses and high-end corporate offices pose different sets of challenges when it comes to interior finish-out. Historically, they have functioned with different expectations and required different expertise: That’s why some general contractors have focused on industrial and others on office. But as industrial clients’ needs evolve, that dichotomy is disappearing, and one firm in Dallas is uniquely positioned to bridge that gap between the two worlds.

Most of Gordon Highlander's work since its founding in 2007 has fallen in the industrial sector — the company is the market leader in industrial finish-out in Dallas. So when President Greg Gordon’s colleagues at CBRE and ESRP encouraged him to move into the world of corporate offices, he was initially hesitant.

“We were cautious about moving into corporate offices,” Gordon said. “But as we looked into it, we realized that the synergies were strong between the office market and what we had already been doing. We figured we could bring our experience in industrial to bear in the corporate world.”

In 2017, Gordon Highlander had just completed a finish-out for Chandler Signs at its headquarters in CentrePort at DFW Airport. While the project was typical of the industrial work Gordon Highlander prided itself on, it added a new twist. In addition to 140K SF of manufacturing and production space, Chandler had asked for 30K SF of office space with high-end finishes.

Rather than investing in a glamorous corporate headquarters and a separate production facility, more companies are bundling both under one roof. That means industrial contractors are expected to create the high-end finishes and amenities expected in office space with the added challenge of building them inside a warehouse rather than a high-rise that was meant solely for that purpose. 

The interior of Chandler Signs' hybrid production facility and office space.

“That union of industrial warehouse and high-end finish-out is really where the market is heading,” Gordon said. “Companies need a contractor that can work and thrive in both worlds.”

For Gordon Highlander, success in the office interiors market came quickly. In 2017, the company inked one of the biggest corporate finish-out deals in the Dallas market: the new headquarters of NTT Data. Gordon said the deal supported the idea that a finish-out company with an industrial background is now a coveted choice for innovative corporate clients.

Gordon is enjoying the transition. In many ways, his industrial finish-out work has presented larger challenges than corporate finish-outs, simply because the initial space is often completely raw. 

"Corporate offices certainly present a number of challenges, but many industrial finish-outs now start with those same expectations," Gordon said. "In a raw space, we have to contend with all the mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems — it's like building a Swiss watch. That ability to do both really gives us a leg up on companies who have never done anything but office."

Both office and industrial projects often fall under strict timelines, but Gordon said that in industrial, the pressure to perform is even greater. 

“When there’s manufacturing equipment to move in and a production schedule that has to be met, there’s a lot more on the line," Gordon said. "We know how to work under that pressure.”

The production floor at Chandler Signs

Gordon added that having a large portfolio of warehouse work helps his relationships and negotiations with subcontractors when his company lands an office project.

“Subs really drive our jobs,” Gordon said. “Every subcontractor wants a part of our industrial projects because they’re typically larger and faster moving. So, when we do have an office finish-out, we can leverage our position with our subcontractors to drive effective cost and quality management.” 

Given the way the market is trending and the growing similarities of both industrial and office finish-outs, Gordon Highlander's expertise in both sectors should prove successful in Dallas and provide a model to other contractors around the nation.

This feature was produced in collaboration between Bisnow Branded Content and Gordon Highlander. Bisnow news staff was not involved in the production of this content.