Back in October, we showcased shipping company ROAR Logistics’ new headquarters, to be built at 535 Exchange Street. I recently caught up with ROAR’s Founder and President, Bob Rich III, who invited me to come down and spend some time walking the site. During our discussion, Rich pointed out a number of interesting building features that were being incorporated into the design, which was created by Carmina Wood Morris (project architect and engineer). Following is an interview with Rich, per the relationship between the site, the building, and the employees who will soon be working for the third party logistics provider (3PL) and global freight forwarder.
What are some of the green elements that are going into the building?
We are very excited to share with you some of the features that will make our new HQ one of the most energy efficient buildings in WNY.
- The entire building is designed on an 8-foot grid, which maximizes material yield and minimizes waste.
- Building is wrapped in Centria Formawall Dimension series panels, which are 3” insulated composite panels which provide an R-value of 21.6 which exceeds the Energy Code. The panels also are a single-component system for the exterior skin as opposed to relying on multiple components (and trades) for the building envelope. This means the building is much tighter therefore more energy efficient.
- The glazing composition has a highly reflective coating, which allows for a lower SHGC while maintaining a high VLT, which means we are letting in a lot of natural daylight with minimal solar heat. The large windows with this energy efficient glass allows us to daylight the occupied spaces throughout.
- The interior design is purposefully minimal utilizing the building structure and exposed concrete floors.
How many employees will be there when you open the doors?
When we move into the new building we will have 55 associates. The building will accommodate 93.
When will that be?
Our current construction plan has us moving in mid-February, although we are hoping to speed the date up if possible. We just started putting steel up this week. Buffalo Grand Hotel has been a great place for us to be for the past 10 years, but we have outgrown our space and the new headquarters will mark the next stage of growth for our company.
You have installed some creature comforts into the building – what are they?
When we started ROAR, I always wanted the company to have a cool, laid back vibe. I feel that the workplace should be FUN-ctional above all things. As such, we will have an on-site fitness facility as well as an associate lounge where the associates can go to decompress, have lunch, hang out, and get away from their desks. The lounge will have shuffleboard, bubble hockey, TV’s, and some other surprises.
To facilitate a more comfortable workspace, we are focused on ergonomics which will include sit down/stand up desks. Some of our associates currently use these, so we are rolling them out to everyone. To promote more camaraderie and teamwork, we are eliminating the cubical layout in our dispatch operations and opting for more of a “Lunch table” layout. This gives us flexibility and promotes better interaction among team members.
Outside the building, we will have plenty of greenspace to toss a frisbee, kick a soccerball, and even toss a snowball or two around in the winter.
Your building is somewhere between Larkinville and Downtown Buffalo – how would you describe the location?
In one word: unique! Our location is ideal and the property as quirky given its odd shape. The site selection took advantage of an otherwise difficult piece of land to redevelop. Having our building fit to the narrow width, landlocked on two sides by railroad tracks, required us to designed this building footprint specifically to fit into this site. We feel that Carmina Wood Morris did a great job in designing a very unique building that pays homage to Buffalo’s history as a logistics hub, while accommodating our anticipated growth over the next ten years.
Given our proximity both to Larkinville and downtown, I am anticipating that our associates will spend a lot of time over at Larkinville, especially during the summer, taking advantage of all of the great restaurants and shops as well as the afterwork events. We are looking into having one of those “Bike Share” racks put out front to encourage our team to get out and explore the area.
Oh, and I would like to give a shout out to one of the coolest neighborhood bars, Marinaro’s Larkin Tavern, my crew turned me on to this place. They have amazing wings, cold beer, and a ton of local sports memorabilia. Don’t forget to bring cash as they don’t take credit cards.
What is the future of Exchange Street? There are a mix of buildings and businesses… what would you like to see?
I feel that Exchange Street is a “Sleeper” honestly. There is so much possibility for this street, but I feel as though it has been neglected. I am hoping that Exchange Street will be developed with a mix of unique businesses, residences, and greenspace. There are so many cool turn of the century, and older, buildings that could be restored and utilized for mixed use, it’s just a matter of getting developers to see the bigger picture.
What I would like to see, first and foremost, would be the tending to, and development of, the dilapidated buildings along the street. I believe that the City needs to step up and get developers to either fix them up, tear them down, or let the City take them on as part of an urban renewal plan.
We desperately need more greenspace along this corridor, so let’s create some micro-parks. Buffalo wouldn’t be Buffalo without the Olmsted Park system. Let’s keep the greenspace growing as the city pushes outwards.
The cherry on the top would be putting in some bike lanes. It is a quick ride between Larkinville and downtown but the route is dangerous without them.
We initially purchased this piece of land in the spring of 2018. We spent significant effort planning a self-contained building with plenty of onsite parking for all of our associates. Once we had the plans drawn and were ready to go, we had to work through numerous utility and blanket easements which took us almost a year to clear. The toughest was the easement with CSX/Conrail as our request was a low priority for them, so it took us some energy and persistence to get them to cooperate. We consider ourselves lucky, as we have heard of people waiting years for responses from them.
Now that we are rolling with the construction, the process is going very well. The weather this spring was definitely a challenge as we lost time due to the rain as the site was basically a mud pit for a couple months. Lamparelli Construction is doing a great job keeping things moving forward. Their team is pushing to get the project finished ahead of schedule, but as with everything, it all depends on the weather.
Overall, you like the direction that the city is going – is there anything that you would like to see happen that would help your business, or just in general?
I have always been proud to call Buffalo my home. Right now, I have to say that I am the most pumped up about Buffalo that I have ever been in my entire life. I do believe that we have been in the midst of a renaissance for the past 20 years, and that is exciting. There is a vibrance and energy that is contagious. People are viewing Buffalo as a destination for tourism as well as employment and a great place to live and raise a family.
ROAR will always be a Buffalo born and headquartered company and we are excited to do our part to contribute back to our community. To be a good corporate citizen, we strive to be a socially responsible company by giving, both of our time and capital, back into our community to better our community. We do this in all 8 of the cities in which we are located. I would like to see Buffalo’s leaders do the same. As WNY’ers, we all need to continue to challenge the boundaries and take more chances to truly discover our potential as a city.
How about the State – is there anything that NYS should be revamping? Anything else?
NY State needs to be more “Business Friendly” and create a fertile ground for businesses to locate and create jobs, not just downstate, but also upstate. As I have always said, it is my intention to grow our company in WNY and always stay headquartered here and that means something at a time that companies are leaving NY state and relocating to more business friendly states. I hope that we will see expansion of economic development zones into some of the lower income areas of WNY in order to spur additional development and provide better employment opportunities to those communities.
Founded in 2003, ROAR Logistics offers Rail, Ocean, Air, and Road services to aid clients in the delivery of their products around the world. It has operations in Atlanta, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dallas, Houston, Chicago, and Pekin, IL and is a subsidiary of Rich Products Corporation.