PLANO, Texas — To give employees time to plan for a move to Texas or an exit from the company, Toyota created a relaxed, three-year timeline. But for the builders of the 2.1 million-square-foot complex on 100 acres in North Texas, the project was anything but relaxed.
Amid a labor shortage in the construction sector and the Dallas area's wacky weather, the developer and construction crews had to keep on a schedule not unlike a Toyota factory cranking out as many vehicles as possible with little margin for error.
Indeed, the Japanese automaker's expertise in manufacturing helped keep the project on track, because Toyota executives understood that their role in making timely decisions was crucial to working around problems as they popped up.
"Even though they are not building buildings day-to-day, they understand the commitments to meeting a schedule and making decisions and yet holding options open as long as you can, so it was really refreshing for us to work with them and sort of have that production mentality in their DNA," said Mike Rosamond, executive vice president of developer KDC, which was in charge of the project.
Shortly after Toyota's April 2014 announcement that it was moving from Southern California, planning at the new Plano campus began. That was followed by earth moving in 2015 and the pouring of a tremendous amount of concrete over a year.
This was not cookie-cutter construction, Rosamond said, since Toyota designed the office buildings to connect at the ground level and achieve the highest environmental rating in the construction industry by incorporating, among other elements, solar panels on parking garages.
"Toyota's goals went far beyond bricks-and-sticks construction of creating One Toyota, as they reminded all of us many, many times, so integrating that corporate goal into the architecture at every point as much as we could was pretty complex," he added.
Abnormally wet weather in 2016 and 2017 meant 120 days of work were lost throughout the construction period, which formally ended in May, Rosamond said.
At one point, there were up to 2,200 workers at the site once the buildings were sealed late last year, allowing the interior work crews to join the other construction trades at the site. A parking garage had to be finished early in the schedule to get workers' vehicles out of the way.
"It was very intense when you marry the complexity, the size and the pace," said Rosamond, who has been in the construction industry for 40 years. "There's just no room for missteps."
Elliott Goodman, regional manager of construction company Austin Commercial, said the toughest part on his end was going from greenfield to fully occupied in two years. That required a strict step-by-step schedule and a lot of bodies.
The builder was able to use its first right of refusal for local labor and its deep relationships in the area to guarantee there were enough workers on the ground amid a labor shortage caused by the region's booming commercial real estate market.
It helped, Goodman added, that local contractors were drawn to the "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to build Toyota's North American headquarters."