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2006 Tilt-Up Convention: Industry Leader Provides Insight Into Denver Market

By: Wendy Ward, Constructive Communication, Inc.

The second annual TCA Convention is quickly approaching. The Convention will be held in Denver, Colo. – one of the country’s fast growing cities. Tilt-Up has flourished in recent years in the Denver area as innovative professionals have pursued a vast array of projects. In 2006, four projects from the Denver area received TCA Achievement Awards, demonstrating the high quality of work performed in this market. Jim MacKinnon, Preconstruction Manager of Saunders Construction, Inc. in Centennial, Colo. and a member of the TCA Board of Directors, provides us with insight into the Tilt-Up market in Denver.

Q. When did you first start seeing Tilt-Up in the Denver area?

A. Tilt-Up has been around the Denver market for more than 25 years, first, being used as a solution for warehousing and now progressing to virtually every market segment. Tilt-Up first started in large warehouses then moved into the smaller “flex” type product. It wasn’t until the last 10 years or so that we started to see a significant push for Tilt-Up in segments such as office, retail, worship, and education.

Q. Why do you think Denver is such a hot market for Tilt-Up?

A. I believe that we are starting to see more sophisticated building owners and developers that have experienced success with Tilt-Up in other markets nationally; thus, they want to apply similar economic and architectural benefits here. The national movement of Tilt-Up over the last decade has truly given credence to the system; therefore, more architects and owners are opening their eyes to its advantages and embracing change. Also, Denver has many talented Tilt-Up contractors that allow for a competitive environment against other building systems. Lastly, the Denver market is not dominated by any particular system i.e. steel, masonry or precast. We have quite a melting pot of construction systems, so Tilt-Up can move in and offer up its advantages without being “pushed around” the market.

Q. What type of facilities do you see being constructed using Tilt-Up in your area?

A. We now have many three story Tilt-Up offices, a few Tilt-Up churches, some non-typical retail including the new Bass Pro Shops, and a wave of new Tilt-Up schools done in just the last few years. Because budgets are tight these days and schedule means everything, it seems Tilt-Up is always being investigated as an alternate system solution. It appears now more than ever we are trying to apply Tilt-Up to almost every conceivable project just to see if there is a chance it might work. This is why I believe Denver has grown so much in this market because we have incredible architects and engineers that are willing to step out and try something different. Luckily, the Colorado landscape has benefited from this.

Q. What can attendees of the Convention expect from the Denver Tilt-Up market?

A. I believe that if attendees take the time to drive around specific areas in Denver and the surrounding communities they will be impressed. The distribution warehouse district located at Stapleton and Gateway Business parks has some of the most attractive “boxes” in the nation. Located not far from Inverness, the site of the convention, are some recent TCA award winners in the office category. Be sure to participate in the bus tour on Saturday where these and other significant Tilt-Up projects will be highlighted.

Q. What advice do you have for those just getting started in a market where Tilt-Up is just appearing?

A. Hang in there. If you are a contractor or design professional, be patient and continue to market the system to clients that understand economics. It takes time and persistence to allow Tilt-Up to work, but the bottom line is how can it benefit your client? When you understand how to apply the benefits of Tilt-Up to the user along with proof of other similar projects completed locally or nationally, only then will they start to get it. After that you need to form the proper project approach with a talented architect and engineer. This should convince any left-over skeptics in your project meetings.

Q. Any final thoughts about the market?

A. Denver is by no means a “mature” market for Tilt-Up compared to Florida or California. But, what Denver has done well is step out on faith and give Tilt-Up a try. Denver is the best example of a market I know that has opened its eyes to what’s going on around the country and has applied the opportunity. I believe the TCA has been instrumental in marketing Tilt-Up and offering the how-to’s of the process to allow areas such as Denver to succeed. I look forward to seeing everyone in October!

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TILT-UP TODAY, a publication of the Tilt-Up Concrete Association, is THE source for Tilt-Up industry news, market intelligence, business strategies, technical solutions, product information, and other resources for professionals in the Tilt-Up industry. A subscription to TILT-UP TODAY is included in a TCA membership. Subscriptions for potential TCA members are also available. If you would like to receive a complimentary subscription to the publication, please contact the TCA.