Movin’ On Up: Team Bob’s gets ready to relocate
Ten years ago, Charlie King had a decision to make: Purchase a bigger building for Team Bob’s, or acquire another business to grow his heating and cooling operation even larger.
The owner and CEO chose to do the latter … just in time for the Great Recession to hit. “The phone just stopped ringing,” said King, who purchased Climatron, then hung tight through the tough times.
Eventually, King made good on his desire to buy a larger building for his growing business.
The new location is at 1797 Park Dr. on the northeast corner of the South Airport intersection. It is the former home of Western Concrete, which King purchased in 2015, but was only able to renovate this year.
“We were hoping for last year, but it took a couple years to get things organized,” said King.
He said not only had the company been very busy, it was difficult to find enough skilled workers to renovate the property.
Rebuilding such a large building was no picnic, especially since it had been abandoned for nearly a decade. Water pipes had frozen and cracked, the siding was riddled with holes and King said there were plants growing through the parking lot asphalt and the inside as well. “We gutted everything,” he said.
King said the move – anticipated for Jan. 1 – will be a boon for the company, providing space for training, storage, conferences and a showroom for customers. It was hard to squeeze all that into the company’s space at 2282 Cass Rd., where it had 8,500 square feet. The new facility dwarfs that at 22,000 square feet. “This gives us room to grow,” said King. “We outgrew our current location.”
He lauded both the contractor and architect (Eckler Construction and Whiteford Associates, respectively) who worked on the project, and his employees for their attitude before and during the renovation.
“The lack of space has a negative impact on employee morale and efficiency. Our employees have been absolute troopers dealing with the lack of space,” he said. “New space will allow for continued growth, improved business processes, improved communication and employee satisfaction.”
The 2.7-acre lot also offers plenty of parking, again a boon compared with the previous location. “We literally can’t find another space to put a desk or find a parking spot,” he said.
They need both as the company continues to grow. When he purchased Team Bob’s, it had 12 employees. Today it has 48, and he intends to add more as the business expands.
“We want to get people and teach them skills. If they have the work ethic and aptitude, they’ll get paid while they train. We didn’t have room to do that in the old facility,” he said.
King said the new location has better visibility, which will be also be a welcome change. “I want people to find us easily, come in and ask questions. We want to get people in the door so they get comfortable with their projects,” he said.
To that end, approximately 2,000 square feet will be dedicated to the customer showroom, a space where people can meet with advisors, ask questions and get hands-on experience with the products.
Another 9,000 square feet will be office, conference and meeting/training space. The remaining 11,000 square feet will be warehouse space.
King, who bought Team Bob’s from original owners Bob and Mary Wilson in 2001, grew up next door to the Wilsons in Buckley. “I remember Bob coming home with his first van [after opening the company],” he said.
He built up the company doing what King called “the jobs no one else wanted to do.”
That’s still the case today. King said the bulk of the company’s business is servicing residential and light commercial, primarily in heating. He’s optimistic that plumbing sales and service will continue to grow as its customer base increases, and that the strong economy will help it build its new construction business.
“We answer incoming calls once every minute during the workday and average 1,000 home or business visits each month,” King said.