Here we are—the beginning of the next decade—and LMT's first full year in its new building. We're sometimes kind of quiet about what's going on here; after all, our role is to observe, support and report on what's going on out there where you are. But we took a cue—and learned from you—the importance of taking pride in—and the value of customizing—our work space.
Even though our rented space was cozy, airy and bright, every time we wrote about a new state-of-the-art laboratory, we thought about how our own workflow might be improved by a new layout. As we grew from a staff of five to 12 and broke through a wall to take additional space next door, it became clear that it was time to move.
So a couple of years ago I purchased a residential piece of property right along the main corridor of our town—Newtown, Connecticut—after learning that the town would soon vote to allow rezoning the route for commercial use. The property—a few miles north of our old place in Monroe—had on it an antique house, in terrible disrepair; an old barn, with cow trough still intact; a chicken coup with chickens; a small pond; and a wonderful blueberry patch with apple trees nearby.
It looked like a perfect setting for a new building—situated between the blueberries, the pond and the old house, built in 1830, which we immediately began to renovate.
It took a while but we finally got approval to build and, last May, the 13 of us moved into our 4,500-square-foot space plus a finished basement.
Everyone always asks about the lessons learned from the project. Because of you, though, we were prepared for the big three:
-A final price won't be final; unforeseen issues always come up that affect the price
-A final design won't be final; unforeseen issues affect the design
-A final deadline won't be met; unforeseen issues affect the finish line
So, no real surprises there. Many lab owners have been there, done that, sometimes several times over and, since we consider ourselves pretty good proofreaders, as we wrote your stories, we took it all in...and, subsequently, into consideration.
But there was a big surprise and it was a really nice one.
When all was said and done, despite delays and expensive tweaks created by government regulations (too many!), the town actually honored us with its 2009 Salute to Business Award. At a dinner reception in our honor, we were told "the overall design of our new building incorporates contemporary features while keeping the exterior consistent with the century-old historic buildings on the site."
What makes it such a special honor is that the office was not designed by an architect, but by my family—Andy, who acted as general contractor; my son Eric, who created the initial concept for us using 3D software; and me, since I'm the one most clear on our workflow habits and needs.
The effect of the move on all of us is invigorating. We're still getting used to the new space and the bountiful amount of leg room. We created an internal doggie daycare center and bring our dogs to work; they have a huge backyard to play in, get along well and are great tension relievers during deadline week.
From our "home" to yours, let's toast 2010! See you next month at LAB DAY®!
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