Owen Ames Kimball returns home

February 27, 2012
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After hanging out at CPR’s office on Galbraith in Cascade Township for seven months, the staff at one of the area’s most celebrated contractors and construction managers was able to come home in time for Christmas.

The Owens-Ames-Kimball Co. returned to its newly renovated headquarters at 300 Ionia Ave. NW in December after being away since late April, and held an open house last week to showcase the location the firm has called its address for 50 years.

“Oh, I love it. I love it,” said Bill Schoonveld, OAK president, of the rebuilt structure.

“It’s not as important that I like it as that everybody else here loves it. It’s a totally different look and feel than we had before. It’s more open. Nobody sits at a window, which means that everybody gets the light from the windows. It’s brighter and much more modern,” he added.

OAK has been in business since 1891. The company built its Ionia Avenue headquarters in 1969 and renovated the building in the late 1980s. But this time, the two-story structure was gutted and completely rebuilt on the inside.

“We demolished everything on the inside and put in a whole new HVAC system, a new electrical system. We put new energy-efficient windows in all around. We changed the entry at the south end of the building. It was hard to believe that we never had an elevator, so we added an elevator,” said Schoonveld. “It’s a total redo. We just kept the outside walls and did everything else.”

OAK undertook the renovation instead of moving elsewhere because it wanted to stay where it has been since its inception 120 years ago.

“We’ve always been a downtown contractor, ever since 1891,” said Schoonveld.

“We did debate ‘do we stay here or do we move out somewhere?’ We finally decided that we love being downtown and we want to be downtown, so let’s stake our resources here and make a statement that’s where we’re going to be.”

The renovation took about six months. The building’s lower level is used for storage and parking, and shower stalls were added. “So the people that pedal their bikes to work can take a shower,” said Schoonveld with a smile.

“In the office, we have about 30 people and 7,000 square feet, so we have plenty of room. And with the way it’s laid out, we actually gained room for more collaborative spaces and more conference rooms and so forth.”

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