On May 17, Business Interiors held an open house for its new facility located on Marketridge Drive just off Highland Colony Parkway in Ridgeland. Like any company moving into a new location, Business Interiors is proud of its new home. But the company is touting the new $2.2-million structure with a heightened enthusiasm due to its unique design and capabilities.
Business Interiors calls its new 14,500-square-foot facility “Mississippi’s first smart, flexible green building.” It incorporates design elements and systems that make the facility something to see.
David Houpt, president of Business Interiors, said, “We wanted a space that was smart, flexible and environmentally friendly. In terms of first-cost and operating cost savings as well as health and productivity, community and environmental benefits, green buildings are the way of the future.”v
Unique inside and out
The “green” features of the new facility are many, and they are evident even before one enters the building. Trees and greenery, both wild and planted, surround the facility, giving the yard a park-like feel. Houpt said he requested that as few trees as possible be cut during construction. A small deck on the front of the facility offers chairs and a table for enjoying the facility’s natural setting.
And there is the water detention system. Built underneath the rear parking lot, the system captures run-off water from the facility and funnels it away. This stands in lieu of utilizing a small pond for run-off, which saves land. Of the three-acre site, Business Interiors is only utilizing 1.8 acres. The rest is left to nature.
However, it is inside that the facility’s green design really becomes evident. There is the raised floor, which allows for under-floor heating and cooling, a more efficient and cost-effective method than overhead ductwork. Houpt estimates he is saving $500 to $600 per month in utility costs due to decreased electricity usage. The system showed its merits during the open house. Hundreds of guests were entertained, yet the company never touched the thermostat.
The facility’s windows are tinted and double-paned and face predominately north and west to avoid the full effects of Mississippi’s summer sun. Still, in the winter the windows allow in some cold. So, under-floor heating units only blow along the windows, putting warm air where it is needed.
The smart and flexible features are just as compelling. All cabling and electrical is also under-floor — there is not a single electrical outlet in any wall. Since the walls are modular, they can be moved relatively easily, and there is no rewiring required.
“With those systems under our raised floor and our modular walls, we have the flexibility of reconfiguring the interior of this place in no time,” Houpt said.
Another smart feature is the height of the raised floor. At first, Houpt considered a 12-inch raised floor, but eventually decided on 14 inches. This allows for extra room for technicians to work if they need to service the under-floor systems. Instead of working on ladders and straining to reach overhead ductwork, technicians can sit on the raised floor and work just a few inches above their feet.
Business Interiors’ primary furniture manufacturer is Hayworth, which offers modular walls and raised floors. Thus, Business Interiors’ is a true showroom of Hayworth’s products, and can be used as a sales tool.
Houpt had high praise for the work of the project’s contractor and architect. Canizaro Cauthen Davis Architects executed the design work while People’s Construction Company was the contractor on the design-build project. Construction took only five months.
All of this is especially gratifying for Houpt, who has more than 30 years of experience in furnishings. A native of Jackson, Houpt graduated from Mississippi State University in 1974 with a degree in business management, and immediately went to work for an office furnishings dealer. He was transferred to Indianapolis, Ind., then Birmingham, Ala., where his territory included Mississippi. But, he longed to return home.
In 1984, he did just that, returning to Jackson and buying, with a partner, the company that would eventually become Business Interiors in 1984. Houpt eventually sold his interest in the company to his partner and worked for a decade at Barefield & Company. In 1995, his former partner sold his old company back to him, and Houpt was off and running.
Growth has been steady. The company saw a shot in the arm when Nissan North America Inc. awarded it the office furnishings contract for its automobile manufacturing plant in Canton.
A good example of the size of some of Business Interiors’ clients was revealed in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Such Coast customers as Mississippi Power Company and Northrop Grumman Corporation placed calls for help. Northrop Grumman’s needs were so great that Business Interiors set up a temporary onsite office and stayed for six months.
Today, Business Interiors employs 11 workers and counts customers all over the state. Still, Houpt sees plenty of growth potential, and he does not have to look beyond his own facility to see it.
“Raised floors, modular walls, green concepts — that is the future,” he said. “I’ve been in this business since 1974, and it is thrilling to me to see these new products. It has me excited.
“Hayworth is on the cutting edge of these concepts, and we want to be a leader, too.”
Contact MBJ staff writer Wally Northway at email@example.com.