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Commercial & Institutional

Senate Construction Corp.


Senate Construction Corp.’s years of industry expertise and streamlined processes leads to the successful completion of one its largest projects to date.

By Janice Hoppe-Spiers, Senior Editor at Knighthouse Publishing

For nearly 30 years, Senate Construction Corp. has prided itself on offering clients a streamlined construction process that delivered the final project faster, saving time and money. “When I started the company, I did so under the premise that I could do things faster and get my clients up and running in a shorter timeframe,” says Bob France, founder and CEO. “We deliver a turnkey solution to our clients. In the end, our objective is to improve our clients’ bottom lines so they can provide more jobs to the community and improve the economy as a whole.” 

France founded the Shirley, Mass.-based firm in 1990 and it quickly earned the reputation as one of the leading commercial construction companies in central Massachusetts. Senate’s distinctive pre-construction consulting services became the hallmark of the company that to this day, sets it apart from the competition. The company developed a construction planning guide to help its clients prepare for the design and construction process and better communicate their needs.Senate info box

During the pre-construction phase, Senate takes a collaborative, team-centered approach to take its clients vision from concept to reality. The more faith its clients have in letting the company take the lead, the faster the project will be completed. “For clients who give us the latitude to help them with designs, make recommendations and bring in the appropriate consultants, while also making themselves available to give us affirmations that what we are proposing is correct, the overall project and schedule is more successful,” France notes.

Senate also offers BIM, construction management and general contracting services with a focus on safety. The company also encourages its clients to integrate sustainable design and construction principles. “We excel in all aspects of construction – from brand new, ground-up facilities to renovation and fit-out of spaces for a wide spectrum of markets including manufacturing, healthcare and life sciences, mixed-use development, corporate/commercial, retail, education and more,” France notes. 

The company believes its best performance area is for closely held manufacturing companies in various sectors. “Whether that’s for healthcare products, fabrication, light assembly or complex heavy industry where special code requirements and special handling of chemicals is required, we help safeguard their manufacturing process,” France adds. “We can meet their needs when it comes to explosion-proof rooms, special air handling requirements to evacuate toxic chemicals and clean the air so when it’s delivered outside it meets the DEP’s requirements. All those things add to the complexity of the job, but it’s an area we thrive.”

As a certified Butler Builder?, Senate offers clients a line of products proven to be smarter, stronger and all-around better than the competition. For more than 100 years, Butler Manufacturing has been synonymous with quality, crafting its products to create innovative, precisely engineered and rigorously tested metal building solutions. “We embraced Butler Builders because of their superior product, their flexibility in building systems, exterior finishes and engineering,” France notes. 

150 Blackstone River Road

One of Senate’s most recent Butler projects included a 615,600-square-foot distribution center in Worcester, Mass., which is one of the largest construction and redevelopment projects in New England. Beginning in March 2016, Senate served the dual role of construction manager and design/builder of the foundation and superstructure, as well as the mechanical and electrical components of the building. 

The new $30 million distribution center was designed to attract local, regional and national distribution companies, as well as third-party logistics, light manufacturing, assembly and warehouse companies looking to serve the region and greater New England. This project, which is expected to generate at least 300 jobs and $1.4 million in property tax revenues annually, consists of 32 acres west of Route 146 and had a blighted 632,000-square-foot building previously. 

“Quality construction is a top priority on every Senate project and the size and scope of this project made quality management particularly crucial to success,” France says. “One component that required a lot of attention and creative problem-solving early in construction was situating the new foundation within the existing one. In order to preserve the existing, non-conforming grandfathered regulatory approvals attributed to the previous building, the new structure reused the existing building foundation footprint. The slab had to be retrofitted to fit the new structure due to the old building infrastructure.”

After that was completed, Senate found some voids in the spaces it needed to place new columns. The team quickly convened to assess the situation and determine the best path forward. With input from the architect and structural engineer, the company decided to perform additional concrete work to bring the structural base up to the structural footing, thereby filling in the voids. “Our quick thinking and action allowed us to stay on schedule and budget, which was critical so early in the project,” France says. 

Midway through construction and after the core and shell of the building was constructed, a new tenant was secured and required a change in the building footprint. “The original design had the loading dock located at the front and indented into the building, but their operations necessitated moving the loading dock 150 feet to the other side of the building,” France explains. “Moving the loading dock meant creating new design documents, reconvening the subcontractors and overseeing the work – all without adding any time to the overall schedule. With our team’s leadership and follow through, we were able to seamlessly make the change for our client.” 

Senate does not self-perform any of its work, so its subcontractors are its “life blood,” France says. “As such, our goal is always to find the best and most qualified subcontractors for each trade on a project,” he adds. “Once we find a great firm, we use them again and again on our projects because we know we can rely on them to do great work. As one of the largest jobs Senate has ever managed, we knew we had to staff 150 Blackstone River Road with our best subcontractors. They rose to the occasion and their contributions led to the great success of this project.”

Senate completed 150 Blackstone River Road in November 2017. 

Repeat Clients

In 2001, Senate built Integra Companies’ 30,000-square-foot corporate headquarters in Devens, Mass. Years later, Integra began to outgrow that facility and turned to Senate again in 2016 to expand its building to accommodate its exponential growth. “Our relationships are word-of-mouth and many of our jobs, about 80 percent, comes from previous client referrals and repeat business,” France notes.

Senate oversaw the construction of Integra’s 40,600-square-foot addition, which included 20,600 square feet of office space and 20,000 square feet of warehouse. Both spaces are Butler Manufacturing buildings, but this project is unique in that it is a hybrid – the warehouse is pre-engineered and the office space is built conventionally. “Together, the two structures join as one,” France says. “Our team worked tirelessly in preconstruction to ensure the two structures would integrate seamlessly.” 

Close coordination with Butler Manufacturing, the steel system supplier, was essential as the company is divided into different product lines, so installing both a pre-engineered system and a convention system meant collaborating with two completely different teams within Butler’s organization. “As we found during preconstruction and construction, those teams don’t necessarily know or understand what the other does and the two systems don’t naturally integrate,” France explains. “An additional layer for Senate’s team meant coordinating and explaining the two Butler designs with Senate’s local architect, structural, electrical, mechanical and civil engineers.”

In order to ensure the final product would match the owner’s vision, Senate Project Manager and Director of Special Projects Jon Karp spent hours comparing drawings and communicating with Butler’s teams. “It was definitely frustrating going through the coordination to ensure the two structures would fit seamlessly,” he remembers. “We had to check and double check everything because this really was the first time any of us had done this and I couldn’t assume that anything would be correct. I had to go over every drawing, detail and specification with a fine-tooth comb. For a while, it seemed like we’d never get it right, but our perseverance paid off and the final product was worth the extra time we spent to ensure we got it right.” 

In October 2017, Senate successfully completed Integra’s $6 million facility expansion.

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