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Amenities designed into Smith & Nephew’s headquarters fit its culture

From Memphis Business Journal - by Andy Ashby
Date: Friday, January 7, 2011, 5:00am CST - Last Modified: Thursday, January 6, 2011, 12:13pm CST

When employees of Smith & Nephew Inc.’s orthopedic division move into their new headquarters, they’ll probably be impressed by a facility that includes everything from multiple bistros to one of the largest corporate gyms in Memphis.

If so, it’s by design.

“The reason we pushed the envelope on this facility is that it’s always been the goal to attract as much new talent (as possible),” Joe DeVivo, president of the division, says. “Also, if you’ve organically grown that talent here in Memphis, you want to create an environment which will help keep it.”

The London-based company bought the four-story office building at 7216 Goodlett Farms Parkway for $14 million in January 2010 from Harrah’s Operating Co. Memphis LLC.

Smith & Nephew is spending $26.5 million building out the property.

Grinder, Taber & Grinder Inc. recently completed phase one of the project, which involved renovating and reconfiguring the 232,000-square-foot office component, which was originally built for electronic transaction processing company Concord EFS Inc. with Harrah’s making minor modifications.

“The original executive level had large lavish offices with personal showers and conference centers,” says Kemp Conrad, president of Commercial Alliance Management LLC, the company that is overseeing the construction. “These types of finishes did not fit Smith & Nephew’s culture. Those were removed and replaced with more contemporary executive offices and a Class A fitness center, locker rooms, showers and juice bar available to all Smith & Nephew employees in the building.”

This is part of creating a “campus environment” instead of working in multiple buildings, according to DeVivo.

“We focused on improving the quality of life for employees,” he says. “We’re trying to create an environment where people want to work.”

This extends beyond the common areas to the work spaces. The original building design included closed offices on the perimeter with a dividing core that split up the space.

The Crump Firm, working with the other companies, changed the design to provide an open plan by removing some perimeter wall offices and opening up large sections of the core so employees can easily see straight across the building, resulting in all spaces getting much more natural light.

The open center cores now support collaborative work spaces, conference and coffee break centers, according to Conrad.

“Instead of building a maze of cubes, we’ve gone to an open work environment,” DeVivo says. “There will be teams of people working in certain environments and they’ll have a much more collaborative workspace.”

The company’s familiar orange logo is sprinkled throughout the building.

“Smith & Nephew had a certain brand feel that their employees are used to,” Brett Grinder, vice president of Grinder, Taber & Grinder, says.

Phase two of the project will involve converting a 60,000-square-foot wing, originally built as warehouse space, into a world-class medical education center for Smith & Nephew Orthopaedics.

The space will have dining facilities, a 150-seat high rise auditorium, cadaver storage and individual surgery suites for training surgeons with Smith & Nephew products and devices.

The technology in this wing will include high-end audio-video equipment in the training suites with capability of broadcasting the training sessions to other parts of the facility or to other Smith & Nephew properties around the world.

“It will be an encapsulated environment education,” DeVivo says. “As new technologies come out, we can bring thought leaders from around the world to Memphis.”

One of the reasons Smith & Nephew chose Grinder, Taber & Grinder as the general contractor was because of its experience retrofitting buildings. It has worked on the First Tennessee Bank building Downtown and several FedEx Corp. properties. It also is handling the build-out for Pinnacle Airline Corp.’s new 170,000-square-foot office space Downtown in One Commerce Square.

“That’s always been a good niche for us,” Grinder says.

It also had a good track record of using local and minority-owned businesses. DeVivo charged the construction and development teams with a goal of a third of the project being handled by minority- and women-owned businesses and locally owned small businesses, according to Conrad.

They met their goal with 55 percent of phase one construction work by awarding 40 percent to minority- and women-owned businesses and 15 percent to locally owned small businesses.

The work was key to keeping Grinder, Taber & Grinder’s work pipeline filled during a challenging time in commercial construction.

“It will be a substantial portion of our work for next year,” Grinder says. “It was also important to our subcontractors who work with us and rely on that work to keep employment levels where they need to be.”

Smith & Nephew’s corporate reputation is a bonus.

“The real benefit to us is it’s a top tier, publicly traded international company with outstanding credit,” Grinder says. “In this market, that’s the best client you could ever hope for.”

Smith & Nephew is relocating from its current offices at 1450 Brooks Road and will use that space to expand its manufacturing operations in Memphis.

“It’s really a two-for-one,” Michael Gilson, senior group manager with Smith & Nephew, says.

In addition to its new headquarters building and land, Smith & Nephew also purchased 7.34 acres of vacant land at Raleigh-LaGrange Road and Whitten Road nearby for $1.4 million from Belz Investco GP, Bico Associates GP and Reaves Family Partnership.

“We can build out this campus,” DeVivo says. “As we grow, we can add more buildings and really create the type of campus environment that accommodates our future growth.”

Smith & Nephew PLC Medical devices HQ: London NYSE: SNN Orthopaedic division president: Joe DeVivo Local employees: 2,005 2009 sales: $3.8 billion Local address: 7216 Goodlett Farms Parkway Local phone: (901) 396-2121 Website: