Commercial

Small Towns Provide Success and Opportunities

 Broad Street in Edenton, NC is thriving

Broad Street in Edenton, NC is thriving

A. R. Chesson Construction has been featured in the April 2018 issue of Construction In Focus. The article focuses on the success and opportunities found in small towns in rural Eastern North Carolina, such as those found in Edenton. We would like to thank the Boyd Agency and Roberson Heating and Air as partners serving with us in Eastern North Carolina.

Written by Margaret Patricia Eaton
It’s a real privilege to work with A. R. Chesson Construction and quite frankly a joy,” says Anne-Marie Knighton, Town Manager of Edenton, NC. “They are professional, they are smart, and they deliver a great product.”

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And deliver A. R. Chesson Construction continues to do. With $16 million worth of construction projects either recently completed or breaking ground in Edenton, the company, founded by president and owner Al Chesson in 1981, is sensitive to the needs of small communities. “We want to make a positive difference in the footprint and the landscape,” Chesson says, referring to work the company has done in both the historic center, such as the intricate Flemish bond brick and white colonnaded addition to the 1817 Edenton Baptist Church, new distribution centers and manufacturing facilities in the surrounding industrial areas, and volunteer projects designed to give back to the community.

Speaking of engaging with the broader community, there is also the proactive stance the company takes toward employment opportunities for minority groups. “We like to think of ourselves as being representative of the population,” Chesson says, noting that twenty percent of its employees are women, unusual in a workforce that remains dominated by men. “And we are proud to have smart, capable and talented women working with us. They do a wonderful job and they’re great team members.”
Named by Forbes as “One of the Prettiest Towns in America,” Edenton (population 5,500) is located where Pembroke Creek meets the Albemarle Sound. Founded in 1712, it’s the first permanent European settlement in what is now the state of North Carolina.
Its historic district contains the Lane House (1719), the oldest known house still in existence in the state; St. Paul’s Episcopal Church (1736); the Chowan County Courthouse (1767); and the Barker House (1783), which commemorates the life of Penelope Barker, the first recorded female political protester. In 1774 she organized the “Edenton Tea Party” in which 51 women petitioned George III, saying ‘No’ to taxes on tea and cloth.

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A. R. Chesson Construction’s involvement with Edenton dates to the mid-1990s, and includes serving in 2012 as the general con- tractor for the restoration and relocation of the 1886 Roanoke River Lighthouse, the last remaining screw-pile lighthouse in North Carolina. After it was decommissioned, it sat neglected on land, in a state of disrepair, but it’s now situated once again on piles within the harbor breakwater and managed as a tourist attraction by the Edenton Historical Commission.
“We don’t tend to build new in the historic district,” Knighton explains. “We tend to restore and repurpose. But our new police station was a special project and Al and his team were great to work with. It was under budget and finished on time and a real asset to our police department, the town and the neighborhood in which it’s located.”

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“There’s a need to walk the fine line between balancing growth and development opportunities while at the same time protecting the historical character of our small towns,” explains Mitchell Ayers, the company’s technology specialist and one of four staff designers. “We consult with planning officials to make sure our designs work with their requirements and are sensitive to its historic nature.”
The 9,940 square foot police building, a mix of structural steel, metal studs and brick veneer, designed by Oakley Collier Architects, Rocky Mount, NC did just that. But while the exterior is traditional in appearance, the interior is a thoroughly modern facility.

One million employee hours, no lost days

Not only was Knighton thrilled with the result, she was thrilled when Chesson requested the police station job site as a venue to celebrate the company’s safety record of one million employee hours with no lost days due to accidents or injuries. The award was presented by the North Carolina Commissioner of Labor and it was inspiring, she says. “It motivated us as an organization and as an employer to work harder on our own safety programs for our employees. I think it’s enormously impressive.”
In addition to that milestone record, the company is looking forward to receiving its 13th Consecutive Gold Award for Safety in April. Chesson is rightfully proud of those accomplishments and the culture of safety the company has developed. “We have a full- time safety officer and he’s informed and constantly updating us with safety procedures, operations and inspections, so safety becomes an expectation. Our employees and our sub-contractors are using tools, up on lifts and scaffolds; it can be dangerous work, so it’s something we take seriously. We want to prevent people from getting injured so day-to-day training is mandatory.”

Constructing facilities for a viable economy

While Edenton enjoys its ‘prettiest town’ reputation, it’s more than just a pretty face. It’s a hard-working town whose manufacturing and distribution centers located outside the historic area are growing and providing employment, thanks to a combination of five major projects which were either completed in the last 12 months or will be completed by the end of 2018 by A. R. Chesson Construction.

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There’s the Colony Tire Headquarters competed in 2017, a 6,827 square foot design-build pre-engineered metal building which Ayers describes as a “combination of EIFS (Exterior Insulation and Finish System) with metal stud interior and cultured stone exterior.” Adjacent to it will be the new Colony Tire Distribution Center which broke ground in February.
Close by is Regulator Marine which, since 1988, has been building deep-vee console sport fishing boats up to 41 feet long and selling them worldwide. “We’ve been working with them for a while,” Ayers says. “We currently are working on three design-build projects to expand their existing facilities. We are adding a new 12,000 square feet pre-engineered metal storage building, adding nearly 35,000 square feet to an existing structure to house their new assembly process, and expanding their lamination facility by 8,000 square feet.”

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“We want to make a positive difference in the footprint and the landscape.”
Owen Maxwell, Vice President Product Development at Regulator, says that business leaders in Edenton are committed to maintaining a strong economy by providing good employment in rural eastern North Carolina. Likewise, small communities like Edenton can provide the opportunity, resources, and employees to allow businesses like Regulator and Colony Tire to thrive.

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Adjacent to Edenton’s historic area is a 20,455 square foot design-build project to replace the Kellogg Supply Company (motto: “Everything to build anything”) which was destroyed by fire on October 26, 2016. Fortunately no one was inside when the fire started, however the 70-year old building and all contents were lost. “Once again, we worked with the town planners to make sure the design fit into the character of the area that surrounds the building,” Chesson says. While it will be a pre-engineered metal building on a concrete slab it will have a cementitious horizontal siding façade in keeping with local traditional building finishes.
“In all of our design-build projects, we take a common sense, practical approach to green building and energy efficiency and we apply green technology appropriately, making it cost-effective for the owners to operate,” Chesson adds.
Just outside the town and presently under construction is the Chowan County Maintenance Assembly Office, a North Carolina Department of Transportation building. Like the police department, this was a publicly bid job with Chesson awarded the contract.
The Town of Edenton, through its continued relationship with A. R. Chesson Construction, has managed to realize the best of both worlds. Its cherished historic ambiance is being preserved while at the same time, there is growth and development and employment opportunities. Instead of disappearing as so  many small towns across North America are doing,  Edenton has bucked the trend and proved to be the exception. And in addition to that, neighborly helpfulness is flourishing.

Habitat for Humanity

Sally Holloway, president  of  Chowan-Perquimans  Habitat  for Humanity (HFH), echoes Knighton when she describes working with A. R. Chesson Construction’s staff.  “What  a joy!” she says, recalling how the company chose to partner with HFH two years ago and has since volunteered to erect two houses, one in Edenton and the other in the neighboring county.

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“We order kits, not pre-manufactured houses,” Holloway says, “and normally it takes our HFH volunteers weeks to put up because it’s heavy work. The kit has gotten heavier because the codes have changed. They used to be 2 x 4s but now they’re 2 x 6s, so that makes it a lot heavier for our people because most of us are retirees,” she explains. 
“But A. R. Chesson Construction came in with their crew of volunteers, people with the expertise to make sure it was done safely and properly. Al was leading by example, up on the roof, and to have a president and owner do that is quite incredible. They had that house framed in a day, including installing the house wrap and putting the wood sheathing on the roof so it was secure, and it was done on one of the hottest days of the year,” she shares.
“It was like in the Wizard of Oz. You blink, and a house appears on the ground. The homeowner told me she drove past the site on her way to work in the morning and there was just the slab foundation and when she came home the house was standing. She called it miraculous and says for her and her two children it’s like coming home to Christmas every day.”

A good decision

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Al Chesson graduated in 1977 from the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. “I was intending to be a banker or stockbroker when I went to college,” he recalls, “but I’d worked my way through high school and college working construction. Construction sort of gets in one’s blood and I decided I liked it a lot better than sitting in an office.” After working for a few years as a construction site superintendent, he says, “I decided in 1981 to hang out my own shingle.”
People in North Carolina are glad he did.

Ground Breaking for the New Columbia Duck Thru

 Proposed Rendering

Proposed Rendering

A. R. Chesson Construction, along with subcontractor Stevenson Sand, has broken ground for the newest Duck Thru convenience store in Columbia. NC.  This is a Design-Build PEMB project. Duck Thru’s parent company is Jernigan Oil Company. With nearly 50 stores in eastern North Carolina, Duck Thru is a favorite with locals and visitors alike. 

The superintendent for this project is Kent Manning. The project manager is Doug Chesson.

 Stevenson Sand performing initial site work

Stevenson Sand performing initial site work

 Stevenson Sand performing initial site work

Stevenson Sand performing initial site work

 

 

Das Danmine Youth Center Grand Opening

The Das Danmine Youth Center is an after school facility that serves children and youth of all ages and encompass a range of focus areas including mentoring, academic support, sports, and recreation. The after school program offeredbenefits the community by allowing the children to spend time in a productive and safe manner while the parents are at work. The overall goal for the program is to help youth improve their classroom behavior, academic performance, and even their health.  The recreational center is open from 3:30pm to 7:00pm which allows time for the children to complete their homework, ask for assistance from provided tutors, then engage in recreational activities. 

The Das Danmine Youth Center held its official Grand Opening on Saturday November 19th. Children and youth of all ages throughout the local community toured the after school facility, while also engaging in a few recreational activities which included ping pong, arcade games, basketball, and even an inflatable bounce house. 

 

Rivers Correctional Institution

Rivers Correctional Institution is a privately owned prison located on a 257-acre tract in a rural area west of Winton, North Carolina, in Hertford County, It is operated by GEO Group under contract with the Federal Bureau of Prisons since its construction in 2001

The facility is a 347,155 sq. ft. campus design with four housing buildings, indoor and outdoor recreational areas, a central programs building, an administrative building exterior to the two perimeter fences, a prison industries building, and four perimeter guard towers. 

Renovations include reconfiguring the Commissary, Warehouse, Education, and Industry areas.

Currituck-Knotts Island Ferry Welcome Center

The Currituck Ferry Welcome Center located in Currituck County, NC, was unveiled Wednesday August 17th, 2016. This newer facility replaces the smaller and outdated one that was built in 1985. It contains vending machines, restrooms, and displays information on the Currituck heritage for travelers to see. 

Construction of a new $2 million Welcome Center for the Currituck-Knotts Island ferry is about to begin and is expected to be completed in early 2016. A federal grant will pay eighty percent, with the remaining twenty percent of the cost funded by the state. The new, larger Welcome Center will include a Currituck historical exhibit area, restrooms and offices, and will be replacing an outdated and undersized facility. 
This is the second NCDOT project that A. R. Chesson Construction has participated in the past two years. The NCDOT HWY-17 Rest Area Building near Chocowinity, NC is nearing completion.

Edenton Police Department

The groundbreaking for the new Edenton Police Department was held on June 15th. The new 9,440 S.F. structure will be build on an almost 1 acre site located at the corner of Oakum and Albemarle Streets in Edenton, NC.  The building will be constructed of structural steel and metal stud framing with masonry secure walls and a painted brick exterior façade.    This is the largest capital  building project the Town of Edenton has ever constructed.  The project manager is Adam Hughes. The superintendent is Dennis Bousman.

SPCA Animal Shelter

 

The SPCA of Elizabeth City is complete and is currently providing shelter for many furry friends while they await a good home. The new shelter is based in a former commercial building the SPCA acquired from Phillip Harrington Enterprises for $300,000 in September 2011. A new south side addition to the building features numerous dog runs and a laundry room.

Colony Tire & Service Corporate Office

The new corporate office for Colony Tire & Service will be a 6,800 sq. ft. pre-engineered metal building with brick veneer located next to their existing facility on Broad Street in Edenton, NC.
The new building will be the corporate headquarters for the company which employs approximately 500 people throughout their 25 commercial and retail stores in three states, four distribution warehouses, and tire retread plant. Colony Tire & Service was ranked #47 on Grant Thornton’s list of top privately held companies in North Carolina in 2015. The project manager is Adam Hughes.

Huntington Park Tennis Center is Ready to Serve

The newest amenity for the City of Newport News, Virginia, Parks & Recreation Department is now open.  The 5,108 square foot project was designed by James River Architects to support the surrounding tennis facilities. The center contains large locker rooms, a conference room, support offices and storage rooms. The project was completed in May, 2015, and the ribbon-cutting ceremony was held on June 25, 2015, at the new center. The Project Manager was Daniel Plyler and Dennis Bousman was the Site Superintendent

Warren Field Airport Terminal Opens

The City of Washington, NC, dedicated the new terminal building at the Washington-Warren Field Airport as part of the Memorial Day celebration. It is a project that has been three years in the making after a tornado destroyed the previous terminal building in July 2012.  The new terminal is larger and was completed with the help of city, state, and federal money for $1.2 million. The previous building was constructed in 1975.
The new terminal is now officially open for public use. The Project Manager was Will Gautier.