Usually there’s some excitement with a move to new digs, but that’s not entirely what Zack Steven says he’s feeling.
Steven is moving his Reddi Industries, Overhead Door and Aero Fence to 6205 E. Kellogg, the former Davis-Moore Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram dealership, but it’s not by choice.
The Kansas Department of Transportation is taking his longtime property at 3901 N. Broadway.
“We had to leave,” he says. “Not a fun process.”
Steven says he loved the Broadway site.
“Would have stayed there forever,” he says. “It just wasn’t meant to be, I guess.”
At the new site, there are seven buildings, all but two of which Steven will use.
“We weren’t sure how our business would fit in here,” he says. “I wouldn’t say it’s the perfect fit for us. … There’s not a lot on the market that fits our business.”
He needed about 10 acres in the city. This site is 15 acres.
“This was made for a big car lot. We’re not a big car lot.”
Reddi Industries is a commercial and residential service company that does plumbing, sewer and drain, heating and air, lawn care, fencing and a lot of industrial services, such as restoration work following water damage. It also has a wastewater treatment plant, which is not at the new Kellogg site.
The main building at the new site will be for Reddi Industries and Overhead Door. That’s where dispatching will be along with customer service and sales. Another building will be a service shop for his fleet of about 115 vehicles. The lawn and restoration divisions also will be there. Another building will be used for storage and a parking garage. The fence company will be in another building. A fifth building will be a car wash.
Wichita Auto Plaza is leasing a small space on the property. Steven has one other 20,000-square-foot building on 6 acres that he wants to lease.
He says he won’t be able to store his largest pieces of industrial equipment there. He’s still looking for an alternate site. That means some of his 140 employees won’t be able to be at the main site.
“I’d prefer to have everything at one place.”
Steven says he can see some benefits with the move, though.
For instance, he says the company does a lot of work in Derby, Mulvane and Augusta, so he says they’ll be more convenient.
“This location puts us a little more central,” he says. “So we can get around town a little quicker.”
Also, he says he likes that Eddy’s Toyota of Wichita and Scholfield Honda have done upgrades to their properties and that Range 54 chose to locate along that stretch.
“It’s kind of cool seeing this area … that was struggling a little bit to be revived,” Steven says. “So there’s definitely some positives to it.”
Steven says the main building is beautiful.
“Man, this is the Taj Mahal,” one person who saw it said.
Steven says he’s more concerned with functionality.
“The office being pretty doesn’t make me money.”
He started moving in, but the process won’t be complete until sometime in May. That’s when the signs will go up.
Steven says his departure date has been a moving target due to changes with KDOT, but he says in the end his own needs necessitated a faster move.
He had been getting ready to build a new warehouse at his Broadway property when KDOT said he’d have to go. Steven says he needs that space now.
“That’s what’s really pushed us to have to move quicker.”
Steven says when you first learn you have to move your business and realize everything that goes with it, “you kind of freak out a little bit.”
“It was something that we hadn’t even remotely thought about.”
Complicating the move was not knowing how much he’d be paid for his property.
Steven says he didn’t know how much money he’d receive until after he’d already purchased his new space.
“How do you make a decision on what you’re going to buy?” he says. “We’re spending substantially more to move our facility here.”
He adds, “When you’re in a real estate deal and you can’t say ‘No,’ what’s your leverage?”
Steven says he’s amazed at how many businesses have gone through what he’s going through.
“The larger the business is, the more difficult it gets,” he says. “I’ve told people I’m going to write a book about the whole process.”
Steven says he’s not trying to be negative. In fact, he says he’s keeping an open mind about how he’ll feel once the move is done.
“We’re going to make the most of it,” Steven says.
“I may find out in a month that I love it here.”