F. Greek Development is a well-known industrial real estate developer with headquarters in East Brunswick, New Jersey. Ninety-eight percent of the firm’s projects have been tilt-wall buildings, which present a number of advantages. We spoke with President Frank Greek, Vice President of Construction Barry Deacon and Vice President of Development Matt Schlindwein to find out more.
F. Greek Development has been an industrial real estate developer in the New Jersey and Pennsylvania area since 1934. Frank Greek & Sons became F. Greek Development, and the company’s main focus has been on warehouse and industrial building construction ever since, with more than 15 million square feet of successful development projects completed during the past six decades.
Parsicon Builders, F. Greek Development’s sister company, has been responsible for the actual construction of these tilt-wall buildings and was honored with the merit award in the tilt-up category by the New Jersey chapter of the American Concrete Institute.
“The best part of tilt-up, cast-on-site is that you can control your entire schedule. You don’t have to worry about a trucker or a fabricator’s schedule. You pour your floor and you pour the panels as fast as you want and then erect. Everything you need to erect panels is controlled by you. Most companies are doing prefabricated panels, and Frank has never worked that way. Cast-on-site equals total control on site.
On a pre-cast building, the panels are manufactured in a facility that is away from the job site. When done, the panels then have to be shipped to the site. With a tilt-up building, the components are manufactured on the site. This type of construction enables F. Greek Development to have the timing of the project within its control as it does not have to rely on outside parties.
“All of the manpower for the other is in the shops somewhere and in the trucking port. So, we use our own labor and time on site for most of this.”
The other aspect to consider is that pre-cast panels are limited by how large a panel the truck can carry. This is typically an eight to ten foot maximum. For F. Greek Development, there really is no limit other than the crane. It can move a panel of seventy-five tons that is up to twenty-six feet wide.
The time required to construct a building using other methods, including pre-cast, “is significantly greater than the time it takes to erect and cast the tilt-wall panels. So, it provides us with a clear timing advantage to alternative forms of construction.”
Parsicon Builders is a subsidiary of F. Greek Development. This union contractor performs mainly concrete work. It pours the footings, the floors and panels and erects the panels.
The company acts as designer, builder and even subcontractor when it comes to the concrete work, and also leases and manages its own buildings. All the elements for which a typical development company would use outside contractors, F. Greek Development self-performs, which is a tremendous asset.
F. Greek Development is currently working on several projects that are ‘build-to-suit’ developments for pharmaceutical companies. “We are working right now on an outfit in South Brunswick called PharMEDium. We are building for them a 66,000 square-foot pharmacy building. They do the same type of operation as your local drug store, except on a wholesale basis, and their customers are the various hospitals.” This building will supply intravenous bags and any of the other drug compounds, ready to ship to hospitals the next morning.
Other work involves retrofitting existing buildings which it has done for several generic pharmaceutical companies. Some of these manufacture over-the-counter drugs like antacids and others manufacture components of prescription drugs. F. Greek Developments leases warehouses that have been retrofitted to meet the needs of the pharmaceutical client. The generic pharmaceutical industry has been getting stronger, so the company is acquiring more clients.
Certainly, the U.S. imports a lot of foodstuffs. Shrimp from overseas suppliers, for example, may come from the South Pacific and be flash frozen but does not, however, go immediately to the user. There are many handlers and third party logistics companies that deal in frozen foods. F. Greek Developments is very involved with one such logistics company, Preferred Freezer Services, for which it completed a frozen goods storage building of a little less than 200,000 square feet in June.
“It’s one of many buildings that they have in the area and around the country. They are not the only guys doing it. It’s a function of the changes in distribution, and we are building a lot of them now. A lot of the buildings that are currently in use are old and becoming economically obsolete. So companies like us are building the new improved models. We are just making a more efficient space for them to work out of.”
It is new pallet storage systems that are driving the changes in industrial building design. “Typically users in our buildings store goods on pallets that are racked before being stocked up to seven high. As the buildings are getting more modern, we are going higher and higher.”
The newer spaces are taking advantage of higher clear heights to be more efficient and store more goods per square foot of floor space. This trend is not just within the dry goods storage buildings, but also the refrigerated and frozen storage buildings. This brings to light another advantage of tilt-up construction; due to its nature, one can produce a building that has a high clear ceiling height ceiling.
At any time, the company is working on about a dozen of these projects at various life cycles. Some are single building projects such as PharMEDium. Others are industrial building parks being developed on speculation.
“We build them and complete them prior to having users for the buildings and then lease them. As we lease up empty buildings, we build new ones.” Some of those projects are currently on the land holdings of F. Greek Developments. The company is transforming the sites into tomorrow’s inventory of buildings for more ‘build-to-suit’ properties or as speculative development projects. It works on several at once and is looking to pick up more land or sign more clients.
The company’s preferred approach is to buy land, obtain building approval (which includes design) and lease the building while retaining ownership. It also performs these services for third parties. Pariscon Builders also works, at times, for several other general contractors to perform concrete or carpentry work.
Currently under construction are two 500,000 square foot buildings. One is in Burlington, New Jersey and is anticipated to be completed prior to the end of the year. The second one has its foundations begun and F. Greek Developments will be tilting up the wall panels in the fall with the project to be completed in the spring of 2016. Both will be ready to rent as state-of-the-art modern warehouses that are between 450 and 500 feet deep with 36-foot ceilings.
LEED certification for warehouse structures is relatively new for F. Greek Development and began when one of the company’s clients foresaw there would be a large added value in LEED certification. “LEED and LEED-like qualities are becoming very important. The certification was more important when nobody was buying into LEED. Now, the LEED-like qualities are the main part of what our customers are looking for. We shot for a Gold standard LEED certification and built-in many of the environmental upgrades. It’s more efficient to run and uses less energy.”
LEED is not just an energy saving measurement. F. Greek Development worked on a large warehouse for a client which is presently used for imported clothing. Most of the LEED enhancements were incorporated into the building without the actual certification itself. Its customers are looking for the essence of what it does, more than the certification.
“When LEED first went public, they didn’t know how to look for this substance. They looked strictly for the certification and assumed that it was in. So, we have been doing most of what LEED requires in our standard building spec, but without the need for a third party. This will become a way of life as time goes on.”