Nebraska’s Favorite Coffee Company Gets a New Home

Scooter’s headquarters in Omaha, Neb. was not large enough to sustain the company’s necessary output long-term. A new headquarters was needed. Founded in 1998, Scooter’s Coffee is a national brand with nearly 200 locations in 16 states. Each of the company’s stores receive both coffee and pastries from the corporate headquarters. With more than 150 franchise commitments for new stores, and the goal of becoming the #1 drive-thru coffee chain in the country, demand has grown significantly in the past ten years.

“Just imagine a company growing at such a fast rate that their predictions from a month ago are no longer valid because they’ve already outgrown them,” Nate Maniktala, Principal at BranchPattern. “We had to respond quickly and dynamically to that kind of growing customer.”

As Scooter’s engineering and building science consultant, BranchPattern partnered with BVH Architecture to create a space that responds to company growth, elevates the brand and attracts new talent. As the outward face of the company, this building is what franchise owners initially see when they join the Scooter’s team. Scooter’s wanted their headquarters to deliver a wow factor.

“We work with really creative people who have dreams, and we understand the visual goal is to create something that inspires and creates wonder, and from an engineering standpoint, we support that,” said Maniktala.

EARLY ENGAGEMENT

Creating inspiring spaces that work efficiently can be more cost-effective when the engineering team is engaged early. BranchPattern continually advocates for this type of workflow because it simplifies future decision-making by considering later needs in addition to what’s obvious today.

Early engagement allowed BranchPattern to proactively test for issues in Scooter’s new headquarters that may have otherwise been noticed after a year or more of operations in the form of higher energy bills, equipment failings and occupant complaints. The team was able to help avoid costly errors by measuring whether building systems were functioning and communicating appropriately.

“It’s not always common, but it’s really special when you have an architectural partner who wants to engage at the programming level of projects,” Maniktala said. “Most programs are typically done by only an architect, and engineers aren’t involved until later phases.”

Within 15 minutes of the call I was onsite, identifying the issue and what steps needed to be taken.

RENOVATION ROADBLOCKS

Efficiently using resources was essential to the Scooter’s team, and after looking at the cost of constructing a new building, it was decided that a renovation would be the most economical option. After considering several possibilities, a former paper warehouse was chosen near interstate 80. However, unique obstacles came about during the design and construction phases.

Due to the office area being located beneath an existing mezzanine, there were physical constraints for the ductwork caused by open-web steel joists. Precise measurements were required in order to optimally fit the ductwork in this area and preserve the building structure.

“The HVAC systems were stripped down and reconstructed to accommodate the creative wall and ceiling panels in the architect’s designs and the existing physical structure of the building,” Rich Anderson, Chief Mechanical Engineer at BranchPattern. “Lighting was also reworked in order to adhere to the new design.”

As a cost-saving measure, instead of replacing the electrical system within the building, the BranchPattern team updated the building’s existing electrical system to the applicable codes. BranchPattern worked to ensure that all electrical elements throughout the building were updated appropriately, such as power distribution, fire alarms and lighting controls, even going so far as to make a house-call of sorts.

“One day during construction, I received a call about a programming issue that had caused a power outage. Within 15 minutes of the call I was onsite, identifying the issue and what steps needed to be taken,” Scott Koelzer, Chief Electrical Engineer at BranchPattern. “Scooter’s was very appreciative of me fixing the issue so quickly.”

In addition to renovating the new headquarters, Scooter’s had a looming deadline for vacating their former offices. As the new location where the coffee would be roasted, packaged and shipped, it was essential to move equipment over without disrupting the production schedule. A feat that was accomplished with great planning and a willing team.

“We were able to get it done and have them moved out to meet their deadline,” said Koelzer. “There were definitely a few late nights.”

FINAL TOUCHES

The architect incorporated numerous backlit translucent panels on the front of the building and within the entry-way. From the highway, BVH Architecture’s design backlit by BranchPattern’s custom lighting makes a dramatic statement.

“The architect did a great job of reskinning the front of the building and turning it into this glowing wall of light. You drive by it at night and it delivers that ‘wow factor,” Koelzer said.

Today, Scooter’s employees are at work inside the new facility. BranchPattern’s next step includes conduct post-occupancy evaluations with increased productivity and satisfaction set as key performance indicators. Tests include employee surveys gauging the satisfaction and engagement of employees within the building. Findings will be shared and discussed with the Scooter’s stakeholders, as well as the company’s HR Director, albeit not a typical approach.

“Companies say, ‘I want to create a building that is going to attract great talent,’ but then they don’t invite their HR director to meetings, which creates a disconnect,” Maniktala said. “In the end, including HR saves the client money because they have more comfortable people in a building that works for them.”