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Renovated Detroit News building boasts snappy design

Since Bedrock Real Estate purchased The Detroit News building in 2014, the company has gutted the structure and created a modern workspace with custom-designed furniture by local craftsmen

Who isn’t interested in seeing what the new owners do to your house after the sale?

A visit last week to the old Detroit News building on West Lafayette led to one simple conclusion: Wow — they’ve done a lot, from custom-made furniture to a historically restored lobby and fun newspaper allusions throughout the building design.

“We’ve had a blast designing the space,” said furniture designer Chrissy Fehan of dPop, the outfit that does interiors on all buildings renovated by Dan Gilbert’s Bedrock real-estate empire.It’s great to have a client who lets us do these things.”

Specially designed banquettes? A conference table with seats on swings? Floors completely cleared of all walls and barriers?

Old George G. Booth’s head must be spinning.

News Publisher Booth hired his friend Albert Kahn in 1916 to design the blocklong building, which the newspaper occupied until several years ago when the landmark was sold to Bedrock.

In 2014, The News and the Detroit Free Press, which moved into the bottom floors in 1998, relocated to Minoru Yamasaki’s elegant, modernist annex attached to the 1927 Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago building a block off Campus Martius.

The first shock to anyone who worked in The News building is the impressive, historically accurate restoration of the lobby. Drop-ceilings that obscured its beauty for decades have been ripped out to reveal arched ceilings that give the space unexpected airiness and height.

“For the lobby lamps,” said dPop Lead Designer Kristin Kostrzewski, “we used reproductions and creatively adapted fixtures. So the original glass globe lamp,” the chandelier that once hung at the entrance with its colored map of the world, “is now a hand-hammered metal globe.”

(The original chandelier disappeared in some ill-advised renovation years ago. The lobby, by the way, is accessible to the public. By all means, step inside and take a gander if you’re walking past 615 W. Lafayette. It’s worth the detour.)

Snappy furniture greets you as you walk in the main entrance, while Detroit artist Leon Dickey’s “Love Letters,” a large wall sculpture that looks a bit like randomly rolled sheets of blank newsprint, dominates the lobby’s east wall.

Upstairs on the third floor, old News editors and reporters will find the former newsroom utterly transformed, though the wood paneling that covered part of it has been mostly preserved.

Utterly unlike anything ever seen in the old newsroom is the Swing Table designed by Duffy London, a British firm that creates amusing, esoteric furniture.

Much like a swing set, the five seats on either side of the large conference table hang from an overhead bar and, well, swing like mad. (The table, happily, is stationary.)

This table has been a big hit

@BuildingConstruction

said Fehan. And really — who could be surprised?

On a floor where dozens of entry-level mortgage bankers do their training, the table adds a little zip to that most-tedious of office obligations, the staff meeting.

Housing about 1,000 Quicken Loans employees and some 375 at Molina Healthcare of Michigan, “The building,” said Kostrzewski, “is active seven days a week. And people are here from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.”

Many of the design touches throughout were created by local artisans.

For example, the large, snazzy-looking black banquettes on several floors — including one huge one that incorporates red metal into the design — were created by Virtuoso Design + Build on Detroit’s east side.

The banquettes, like the Swing Table, are reportedly popular. Trainee bankers study on them, according to Robert McDonald, Quicken Loans facilities site leader, and on occasion, when necessary, catch a nap.

A large conference table with a historic picture of old newspaper carriers printed right on the wood was created by Detroit furniture designer Brian DuBois.

All signage, like on conference rooms named for other U.S. newspapers around in 1916, was crafted by Livonia’s Jiffy Signs.

The aim in the entire redesign,said Kostrzewski, “was to create a comfortable living room atmosphere” for today’s unstructured, adaptable workplaces.

“We wanted to transform work spaces to create more collaborative and open environments that encourage productivity and encourage people to want to come to work,” said Jennifer Janus, dPop chief operating officer.

U.S. electric bike market up

Electric bike market advisers eCycleElectric have concluded that the U.S. market for pedal assisted bikes could have grown year-on-year by as much as 70% in 2016.

The consultancy run by Patrick and Ed Benjamin has crunched the numbers and believes that the U.S. imported a minimum of 196,000 and likely as many as 251,000 units in 2016. A further 15,000 are believed to have been built domestically by assemblers, putting the firm’s low estimate at 211,000 units.

Ed Benjamin told CyclingIndustry.News: “Due to complexities in tracking these numbers, we suspect that the actual number may 20% higher, thus giving us our upper-limit figure of 251,000 units. That would represent a 70% increase.”

Speaking on the difficulties of tracking the market’s exact figures, Benjamin said that without a specific HS code, something which pedal assist bikes lack at present, records are harder to define.
“This leads to a tedious process of evaluating thousands of individual records, one at a time, by hand. Such a process is subject to both human errors and definition confusion; many products that would not be conventionally regarded as an “electric bike” may be listed as such, or in similar terms,” offers Benjamin. “Our figure of 40,000 additional imported bikes is intended to realistically encompass both our likely margin of error and bikes that are either poorly defined within the record, not described with any of the 60 terms we search under, or simply mislabeled entirely. The remaining 15,000 USA assembled bikes is based on data gathered through our relationships with USA assemblers, retailers, brand managers, OEMs, component suppliers, and sales reps.”

Ebikes were imported by approximately 135 entities during this period, found eCycleElectric. Most came from China, but also from Taiwan, Korea, and elsewhere.

The largest importers were ebike specialists, followed by major bicycle brands. A large number of bikes were imported by specialist ebike retailers. Other importers included sporting goods stores, online sales, and mass merchants.

Many small importers brought in shipments of 6 to 50 bikes. These are thought to be start ups, retailers, and companies considering the ebike business.

Does it all translate to sales?

“If stock languishing in warehouses were a widespread problem grumbling in the supply side would be heard loudly and clearly. As it is, grumbling has been absent, so we feel that most of the ebikes entering the market are being sold, and easily,” starts Benjamin.

Sources within the industry have indeed told eCycleElectric that unit sales have risen by as much as three fold year-on-year, with many more pointing to increases between 40 and 70% during 2016.

“This aligns with our observations, and thus we feel confident that the path from importer to customer is, at the moment, fairly well-lubricated,” says Benjamin.

“An often overlooked detail of the USA ebike market is that it cannot be as easily compared to the bicycle market as we might like. A figure of a quarter-million bicycles sounds unimpressive for an industry that moves in tens of millions in the USA. However, with the average ebike somewhere between $1,000 and $3,000, with many examples reaching towards (or even past) $6,000, this small volume represents a larger slice than is immediately obvious.

“Thus we feel that the overall picture of the market is this: Sales are up, some (but not all) companies are growing fast, and this small, yet profitable, industry segment is continuing to grow due to a variety of global and USA trends.”

To contact Benjamin directly head on over to www.eCycleElectric.com.

Within Europe, manufacturers like Cube are drastically expanding the scope of their electric bike production. Head here for our interview with CEO Marcus Purner.

Hoskins pushes growth at Octex through enthusiasm, planning

Sarasota, Fla. — There’s an energy and enthusiasm at Octex LLC that’s palpable and seemingly infectious.

Maybe it’s the sunshine of Sarasota. More likely, it’s the vision of President John Hoskins and his team that’s sprinkled with youthful leaders. Either way, this contract manufacturer/injection molder is expanding physically and on its balance sheet.

Examples abound.

This month, Octex moved equipment into its newly constructed 4,000-square-foot white room. This room for medical molding has a reflective deep blue floor and wall of windows that give office staff a needed view into the work room, connecting shop to office.

In the fourth quarter

@Industry

In the fourth quarter, Hoskins said the company will expand its clean room to 6,000 square feet.
These moves are all part of the company’s master plan, which by the end of 2020 will see the complete reconfiguration of the building, moving the entrance to the current rear of the complex.

The company’s in-house lab — currently at 3,000 square feet — will expand to 10,000 in the next two to three years. That lab, formerly Octex Labs, now goes by the name Omnia Scientific.

All of this is on the heels of the 2015 purchase of Choice Tool & Mold Inc., which is housed in newly refurbished digs next door to Octex.

A website relaunch is also three months out to help keep current and prospective customers up to date on all of Octex’s seemingly ever-changing capabilities.

This growth stems from the company’s decision to move deeply into the medical device market, leaving consumer drinkware late last year. Hoskins points out, however, that Octex remains committed to the consumer and industrial markets and its current partners.

Hoskins estimates the company’s sales at less than $40 million today. The company has a three-year goal of $50 million and an ambitious target of “nine figures” or more than $100 million in five to 10 years.

“Targets are first brush strokes. We’re not going to limit growth. But we don’t want to throw away what made us who we are. We’ve got to remain relevant to our partners,” he said.

6 Tips for Choosing Material Handling Equipment

Whether you need storage equipment, bulk material equipment or automation solutions, here are six crucial points to consider before purchasing.

A number of factors come into play when choosing material handling equipment for your warehouse. Whether you need storage equipment, bulk material equipment or automation solutions, here are six crucial points to consider before purchasing.

1. While it seems obvious

While it seems obvious, the place to start is the types of materials being handled. This could include pallets, spools of materials, coils, tires, etc.

2. Another factor

Another factor is the order picking method, which could include piece pick, case pick or pallet pick. If your personnel stores and picks full pallets in racks, then a reach truck would be the right equipment choice. However, if workers have to case pick cartons from pallets, then choose the order picker.

3. Determine which functions need to be performed

Determine which functions need to be performed, as well as environmental factors such as rack aisle width, rack type and ceiling height. There are a number of options to choose from but as a general rule of thumb, the narrower the aisle the equipment can operate in, the higher the cost.

4. You can’t expect every conveying

You can’t expect every conveying, palletizing or filling application to be heavy-duty. Any application involving drums, weighing scales, pails or totes being filled and moved at high-volume intervals will require rugged, heavy-duty equipment. This will hold true especially if the equipment is not maintained regularly.

5. Assess the level of customization you need.

Assess the level of customization you need. You can choose to have a complete range of services that cover analysis through start-up and post-sale support.

6. Keep track of all the maintenance costs.

Keep track of all the maintenance costs. Software programs and tools can track this information and help boost warehouse productivity. Choose equipment whose spares can be found easily in replacing or repairing the equipment, thus minimizing downtime.

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