Flint Energies opens new headquarters facilities in Taylor County | Business
REYNOLDS/WARNER ROBINS/UPATOI/PERRY – In a process that began in 2003, the Flint Energies Board of Directors is taking the next step toward building a new headquarters in Reynolds to better serve its members.
“Flint’s commitment to rural and middle Georgia goes all the way back to 1937,” said Chief Executive Officer Bob Ray. “We affirm that commitment by building facilities for the next generations of cooperative members.” Furthermore, Flint continues a commitment to the community where it all began as “Taylor County EMC”. The City of Reynolds stands as the geographic center of the co-op’s service territory that stretches from the Museum of Robins Air Force Base through the electric system at Fort Benning Army Post.
The new building will be built immediately behind the Co-op’s current headquarters on the site of the old Crawley House and Flint’s current parking lot. Flint will also improve capabilities and capacity by creating an operations center from a renovation and expansion of the former Trae Chevrolet building on the west side of town. The operations center site will be used for linemen, engineering, warehousing, truck sheds, an automotive shop and safety coordinators for the western portion of Flint’s system.
“Flint has awarded a contract to Parrish Construction to build the nearly 45,000 square foot one-story headquarters building on the 2.3 acre site, as well as to perform renovations for the operations center” said Ray. “There are considerable savings to be realized by constructing the facilities at the same time. It will take about 21 months to complete both projects.”
The new headquarters building will house Flint employees in the current facilities, as well as the addition of Technology & Communication Department staff relocated from other areas. Key features of the facility are the addition of a back-up system operations center to promote service reliability, as well as an auditorium that will accommodate all Flint employees and serve as a community resource. The full cost of these projects is yet to be determined but the construction team will soon provide Flint’s board with pricing.
Ray provided a brief review of the history of the new construction project: The current building was built in 1960 and had its last full renovation in 1981 when the office was expanded.
Flint Energies’ Facilities Committee, comprised of Board members and employees, added the Reynolds headquarters to the “to do” list when it was formed in 2003. Flint’s Board of Directors reiterated the need in 2008. In 2011, the Board restarted a building savings account to accumulate money to pay for new facilities. Also, the Board committed to a long term headquarters presence in Reynolds that same year. A long term plan was created for the location and future improvements for all Flint facilities.
In April 2012, a competitive process resulted in the selection of an architect and construction manager. JMA Architects and Parrish Construction were identified as the winning bidders in October 2012. In 2013, the decision to build a new headquarters facility was made. Priority consideration was first given to renovate the current Reynolds office, but the projected costs of a constructing a new facility not only reduced the footprint by 8,000 square feet, but also condensed the construction timeline by 8 months and minimized member inconveniences. The current headquarters is in great need for new mechanical systems such as heating and air conditioning and fire suppression and a new roof. The best investment for our members was to build, not renovate.
How Will Flint Finance the New Headquarters?
In 2011, Flint’s Board of Directors began setting aside money each month to pay for the new construction. “We expect to make the final payments when the building is complete, so members will not be paying any mortgage on the building. Our Board fully realizes that all money is member-provided. They seek to be good stewards of those funds and have taken an extended period to explore the facility alternatives and ways to minimize the cost of financing construction by starting to save money when the idea began being discussed,” said Ray.
Now is the best time to build, with the economy beginning to rebound, pricing for new construction may never be better, he said. Rate increases for Flint members are likely in the future; however, those increases will be driven by increasing power costs and fuel costs, not the cost of a new headquarters facility. “Building construction and ownership is a good investment for Flint and its members,” he said. “At today’s rates, land appreciation is better than a bank investment.”
The Reynolds Operations Center (ROC) will also be constructed at the same time due to economies of scale. “With contractors in Taylor County to complete work at two locations, it just makes plain economic sense,” said Ray. “For example, the headquarters facility needs new dirt to replace soil which does not compact well, and the new ROC has available dirt which needs to be moved for construction. It’s the proverbial killing two birds with one stone,” stated Ray.
The ROC will house a 13,300 square foot warehouse, a nearly 11,000 square-foot automotive area and an 8,500 square foot office on 15.6 acres. The ROC will house approximately 30 employees. The ROC, located at the old Trae Chevrolet site, will replace the current Reynolds warehouse, which will be renovated for utility storage. By using this location for corporate-wide storage, it will actually extend the life of the Cooperative’s Warner Robins Service Center for a few more years.
Flint’s automotive department will move to the ROC and the Cooperative will tear down the current facility located at 2 South Macon Street, across from the headquarters building. Flint plans to convert the site to a parking area for auditorium use and the Cooperative’s annual meetings.
“Both the new headquarters building and operations center will allow us to better serve our members in our rural areas, replacing the old headquarters building which has exceeded its useful life,” said Ray. “Flint is committed to supporting our rural areas, especially Taylor County where Flint began and actively demonstrate our Commitment to Community as part of the Touchstone Energy brand.”
About Flint Energies www.flintenergies.com
Flint Energies is a not-for-profit cooperative owned by thousands of members in parts of 17 central Georgia counties. Flint directly employs 233 employees and serves more than 86,400 electric meters. We are 100% locally-controlled and democratically governed by 11 members elected from among the membership. In 1937, Flint Energies was created to bring people together to meet common needs like reliable electric energy, and our mission remains focused on improving the quality of life in Middle Georgia.
Flint is a Touchstone Energy Cooperative, part of the nationwide family of electric cooperatives exhibiting the core values of integrity, accountability, innovation and commitment to community. Flint Energies is also a Touchstone Energy Cooperative, part of a nationwide family of electric cooperatives exhibiting the core values of integrity, accountability, innovation and commitment to community. Flint’s members give their cooperative an American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) score of 84, which rates higher than most investor-owned utilities in the country.
About JMA Architecture www.jmaarch.net
JMA Architecture provides architectural design, interior design, and planning services. The JMA studio is located in Perry, Georgia. JMA also provided design services for Flint’s Member Center in Warner Robins, which opened in 2008.
About Parrish Construction www.parrishconstruction.com
Parrish Construction was formed in 1995. Headquartered in Houston County, GA, Parrish Construction Group specializes in healthcare, commercial, and educational projects for the public and private sectors.