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Mid-Pandemic Office Remodel Project in Forest Lake, MN

This custom commercial remodel is a major transformation. From tired warehouse to modern office space, the top-to-bottom renovation shows what’s possible — despite pandemic obstacles and uncertainties.

The latest commercial remodeling project from Titus Contracting Inc headquartered in Burnsville, MN reveals a major commercial office renovation. 

This commercial remodeling project was completed for Mustad, a worldwide manufacturer of horseshoes, plus tools for horses’ footwear and hoof care. For this project, they asked us to convert 3,000 square feet of underused warehouse space into a fully-finished main office to accommodate their growing staff and operations in Minnesota.

At Titus Contracting Inc., we tackle commercial renovations all the time, and our team of expert contractors and designers are well-versed in starting from scratch. But this one was a bit different. 

“We started the project about a week prior to the stay-at-home order in mid-March,” says Titus Principal Lee Lawrence. While this timing might have given others pause, Lee says Mustad saw it as the perfect opportunity.

BEFORE

Unused office space presents fewer challenges during a renovation

With a project of this size, it was an advantage to have a completely empty space. After all, going from a warehouse to an office space requires more than just a refresh of surfaces.  

“There’s nothing here we didn’t touch,” says Lee. “We had to saw-cut the floor for all-new plumbing, and rip out and redo the whole HVAC system.” We also added a new wall of windows and removed an exterior vestibule.

Once the systems were in place, Titus framed in the new walls to transform the long, narrow space. At one end, they placed a large conference room for group meetings. There are also two smaller meeting rooms, with the majority of the space left open for 10 cubicle workspaces.

There’s also a common kitchenette area with a coffee bar and lots of windows for plenty of natural light.

Designing a working environment with employee wellness in mind

The Mustad office doesn’t anticipate much drop-in traffic from customers. Still, it was important to design a beautiful space with comfort and functionality in mind for their employees. Founded in 1832, they’re a company with their eye on the long game. This includes creating lasting value for employees. In this case, a working environment they enjoy returning to each day. 

Our design team was happy to assist. “We helped them pick out wall colors, carpet, countertops, door trim — everything throughout the process,” Lee explains. The overall color scheme is serene and soothing, with rich wood tones and warm neutrals.

The doors, kitchenette cabinetry, and trim work are deep brown with bronze hardware, and the carpeting has similar tones. The cubicles, on the other hand, are light, bright, and airy. The speckled granite countertop ties both light and dark together. Finally, an accent wall provides an energizing pop of color.

Lastly, we roughed in and designed 2 brand new ADA compliant restrooms. They feature a 12”x24” tile that pulls in the browns from the wood trim, plus grays and white to keep it fresh and modern. White under-mount sinks and bronze faucets complement the granite countertops for a space that’s cohesive and clean.

AFTER

The importance of thoughtful workplace design

Studies show that thoughtful workplace design has numerous positive outcomes, both for the company and its employees. For example, offering multiple workspace options — like cubicles, smaller breakout rooms, and a conference room, gives employees the chance to collaborate freely with colleagues while keeping overall noise down in the rest of the office.

A variety of workspaces also offer a change of scenery, which can help jumpstart creativity and reduce burnout.

It might seem like a small detail, but pre-COVID, working Americans spent up to a third of their lives in an office setting. In order to convince the workforce to return to the traditional office space in a post-pandemic world, it’s important to offer value in the workplace.

Office design that promotes productivity and wellness is an important piece of the puzzle and Mustad’s office renovation is a great example of how to achieve these goals.

Commercial renovation timeline during COVID

Starting this project just as the U.S. was shutting down certainly brought a few obstacles. “A lot of it was custom order, and because of the pandemic, it lengthened the timeline for ordering and procuring things,” Lee explains. Also, the pandemic shifted Mustad’s office needs, lowering their cubicle count from sixteen to ten.

In total, this renovation spanned four-and-a-half months, which is longer than a similar project might normally take. But, most commercial projects aren’t quite this in-depth. Typically, Lee explains, average timelines for commercial renovations are closer to 8-12 weeks. Between completely retrofitting the current space, moving HVAC and plumbing, and custom orders, Mustad’s office renovation had a lot more moving parts. “A lot of the tenant office buildouts don’t change so much,” Lee says.

Now that production and shipping have returned to a more normal pace, many commercial renovations in the Twin Cities can be completed in a few short months.

Why now is the right time for a commercial office remodel

Things have picked back up across the U.S and in Minneapolis/St. Paul, both for businesses and for the production of materials. Lee believes now is the right time to tackle a commercial renovation: “Had we been able to foresee the future, we would have said ‘Oh man, now is the perfect opportunity!’” 

With many offices sitting empty, or at least at partial capacity, commercial renovations cause less disturbance than they might to a fully-staffed office. And while many people are finding ways to work remotely, many are also longing to return to their past routine and office setting. In fact, while younger generations of workers value location and schedule flexibility, 89% say a traditional office setting is important to them.

The pandemic has shifted nearly every aspect of our lives, but at some point, we’ll recalibrate to a pace that’s more familiar. Lee says: “Life will go back to some normalcy. Are you prepared to welcome back employees? Or, is this a good time to be proactive and make necessary changes?”

Titus Contracting is a full-service commercial and residential Twin Cities remodeling company. We offer additions, tenant construction, retail build-outs, construction management, custom design and build remodeling services, and more to commercial property owners and homeowners in the Twin Cities metro. Contact our team at 952-746-7817

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