Community effort keeps Gehl in West Bend
It took a team of determined entities to keep Gehl Co. headquartered in West Bend.
When the 150-year-old company outgrew its antiquated building in the city, the Milwaukee 7 regional development cooperative helped put together a $7 million incentive package with the state of Wisconsin, Washington County and the city of West Bend to keep the manufacturer in the area.
Once the decision was made to build anew in West Bend, it took another concerted team effort to bring the $19.1 million Gehl project to life.
Working together, contractors were able to bid out concrete foundation and steel work before designs were completed, allowing the project to start earlier than expected.
But when the project couldn’t move forward as a whole, the construction team decided to break work on the new office building and renovations to the company’s research and development building into separate parts to keep moving, said Darin Garbisch, senior project manager for C.D. Smith Construction Inc., Fond du Lac.
The move required extra teamwork to coordinate the various pieces, he said.
For example, when an independent contractor was hired for audio and visual work in the new 72,000-square foot office building, existing electrical staff had to carefully coordinate to work in tandem.
But weekly meetings for all on-site workers helped streamline communication, Garbisch said.
“Every job is different. It doesn’t always work out (to use this type of approach), but on this project, it did,” he said. “If it made more sense to have someone to do part of it and not the whole thing, we did that.”
The project’s design maximized its natural setting, incorporating views of the nearby Milwaukee River and a park, said John Chapman, design principal with Eppstein Uhen Architects Inc., Milwaukee.
The new office building features more than 1,200 windows to take advantage of the views, he said, and promote energy-efficiency through the increased use of natural light.
To recognize the community’s efforts to keep Gehl Co. in the area, Garbisch said, the company put extra effort into landscaping the property.
“The landscaping was for the community,” he said. “They put a lot of money into not just building, but also making the site look nice for the city.”