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Grinder, Taber & Grinder building new church facility in Germantown

Memphis Business Journal by Linda Water Nelson

"Church building is different. It is interwoven with passion, emotion,family history and shared heritage ... and we love doing it," says FredGrinder, vice president of Grinder, Taber & Grinder, Inc.

While the majority of the construction company's work consists ofcommercial and industrial projects, there are also hallmark buildingslike the new Rhodes University Library and St. George's EpiscopalChurch in Germantown, a $7.34 million project currently underconstruction.

The church projects do not come across the firm's desk on a frequentbasis. Grinder says word-of-mouth is the driver behind these projects,along with a level of satisfaction that building committees often sharewith their counterparts.

The company also built Second Presbyterian Church and First Assemblyof God in the Memphis area. It considers religious structures to be apractice specialty, as well as buildings like the Rhodes Library, whichhad to visually mesh with the other campus structures.

"With projects like these, every decision is an emotional one," Grinder says.

James Williamson, consulting architect with Askew Nixon FergusonArchitects, Inc., is the architect for the St. George's EpiscopalChurch project and David George, a manufacturers' representative andengineer, chairs the church's building committee.

Three years ago, St. George's congregation decided that it needed toapproach its facilities in a new way. The church and St. George'sIndependent School previously shared a site and facilities, but spaceconsiderations and scheduling difficulty made it clear that more spacewas needed.

The school purchased the church's original facility, which includes19 acres on Poplar, for $8 million in 2004 and plans to use theexisting sanctuary as a performing arts center. The church purchasedland for its new facility, located at 2425 S. Germantown Road, in 2005.

The new church building will serve the needs of the entirecongregation for worship, fellowship, education and Mother's Day Outprograms.

"It is never an easy process when you leave a space where peoplehave been married, buried and baptized," George says. "Some oldermembers were not happy with the decision, but the architect and thebuilder could not have been better at handling everything with kidgloves."

Every effort has been made to incorporate elements of the old space,including the architectural style and plenty of natural light. Naturalhardwood trees were saved and the congregation should find it easy tosettle in to a new building with familiar features.

"We also have the same on-site superintendent that handled theRhodes Library project," George says. "The quality will be equal tothat fabulous building, and that is all anyone could ask."

About 90% of Grinder, Taber & Grinder's work comes fromconstruction business on negotiated contracts. The company, which hadabout $33 million in work in 2006, was founded in 1968 and now hasthree generations involved -- father, Ed, is the president and has beensince the firm's beginning. Sons and grandsons are also part of the mixtoday.