Coborn’s Corporate Support Center

The Heart Of An Organization Gets A Face-Lift

New building puts productivity in the driver’s seat

  • Long-Standing Relationship

    This Builder and customer team have collaborated on more than 100 buildings.

  • Designed For Health

    This office design promotes employee well-being. 

  • Operational Efficiency

    Lighting controls, water-saving measures and a natural roof on part of the building help control operating costs.

Space To Be Efficient

A Midwestern Institution

Coborn’s is not just a grocery store chain in the Upper Midwest. It’s an institution. It was founded nearly 100 years ago, spans 50 grocery store locations and operates over 120 business units with a network of 8,000 employee owners. This billion-dollar company translates its vision to be remarkable, and inspire happiness, healthy living and simplicity into big business.

At the heart of it all is the Coborn’s Corporate Support Center, which houses operations, merchandising, marketing, human resources and other functions. The corporate team prides itself on being a lean group that shoulders a large responsibility.

“We are ever mindful of what our role is in supporting our retail locations. We have to operate efficiently.”

Dennis Host, Coborn’s

Recently, it was time for this team to grow into a new building that would better meet its needs. Naturally, Coborn’s engaged longtime Butler Builder®, Rice Companies, Inc., to bring its new facility to life. Coborn’s and the Minnesota single-source construction services firm have a relationship dating back more than 40 years. The two organizations have constructed more than 100 buildings together.

“Rice understands us. They know us intimately. They understand how we work.”

Dennis Host, Coborn’s

The Coborn’s Corporate Support Center would be the most complex endeavor the two organizations have worked together on, but a challenge Rice could easily manage, with the right partners.

Throughout a three-year design period, a small team from Coborn’s, Rice and Butler Manufacturing,™ developed plans for a threestory complex consisting of more than 91,000 square feet. The building design centered on helping employees work better.

“The old buildings created real challenges for our people to most effectively conduct business. We wanted to provide the new office amenities conducive to productivity.”

Dennis Host, Coborn’s

Coborn's Corporate Support Center

Conventional Approach, Unconventional Accuracy

The Coborn’s Corporate Support Center did not fit the requirements of the typical systems construction approach Butler uses, given the number of floors in the finished facility and other features. Instead, Rice called in Butler Conventional Steel Services to supply the structural components.

“We’ve had a long relationship with Butler Conventional Steel Services, and from the beginning thought of it as a project for that group. It was a team effort between our architects, Coborn’s and the Butler engineering team to identify this design. The Butler engineers are excellent to work with.”

Travis Lund, Rice Companies

Productivity also was a key focus during the design and construction phases.

Butler Conventional Steel Services uses sophisticated modeling technology to provide unprecedented accuracy when designing the building. Additionally, its products have bolted connections, minimizing the amount of required field welding (and therefore saving time and labor costs).

These benefits helped Rice achieve the aggressive 10-month construction schedule when erecting the new building.

Designed For Collaboration

One of the key opportunities for Coborn’s to help employee owners become more productive in the new building was creating spaces where they can meet and work together.

Previously, different teams were housed in different buildings and frequently drove from place to place for in-person meetings throughout the workday. Additionally, similar to many office environments today, meeting rooms were in short supply.

The new office groups the core teams under one roof, thereby cutting down time spent on midday driving. It also gives employee owners the space and tools they need to conduct more effective meetings. Rooms are equipped with the latest in teleconference technology and can accommodate a range of needs, from small four-person huddles to 250-person training sessions.

Coborn's Corporate Support Center

Healthy And Comfortable Employees Are Productive Employees

Inspiring happiness, healthy living and simplicity is a tenet of the Coborn’s corporate vision, and its space stays true to this perspective.

The building is situated on a large campus, and its design features ample windows for employee owners to enjoy woodland views and soak in natural light throughout the day. Plus, a walking path crisscrosses the lot. Employee owners can often be found conducting walking meetings.

Additionally, the new office space creates a comfortable and inviting atmosphere. The interior décor features a modern look with many exposed steel structural supports as well as 8-foot-tall doors and working stone fireplaces in the lobby and lunch room.

“We really tried to show off the steel in many elements throughout the buildings. It has an urban loft look.”

Travis Lund, Rice Companies

Coborn's Corporate Support Center

Operational Efficiency

Not only was building design important, the Coborn’s design team also carefully considered how the building impacts operations expenses today and in the future.

“There’s the vision and creativity behind how the building looks, but there’s also a secondary level of creativity behind how the building functions. We asked ‘What is that cost investment going to look like from where we were to where we are once the new facility opens?’”

Dennis Host, Coborn’s

The Coborn’s team carefully considered operating costs while evaluating the design options and implemented several elements with efficiency in mind. They opted for lighting controls to help minimize one of the top operating expenses of a typical office building. Plus, the building includes numerous water-saving measures. Most notable is the natural roof over the underground parking structure to help assist with runoff control.

The Coborn’s team included thoughts on how the building can be expanded in future years as part of the project.

“You have to look beyond today and the process of building a new building. You have to look forward to how the building is going to work for you as you grow into it and how the building is going to work for you longer term, not just short term.”

Dennis Host, Coborn’s

The Big Reveal

Throughout the three years of planning and one year of construction, the small Coborn’s Corporate Support Center design team stayed tight-lipped about the caliber of office they were creating.

“We knew this was going to be a spectacular facility for our employees to work in, so we wanted to hold that element of surprise. For those of us who worked on the building nonstop, it was a thrill to see their reactions and the joy on their faces.”

Dennis Host, Coborn’s

Most employee owners saw the building for the first time when they moved in the week before Thanksgiving. Their thoughts on the building? It’s remarkable.

“It’s visually impressive; the design speaks for itself. It’s quite a building to build in about 10 months’ time.”

Dennis Host, Coborn’s

The initial first-day excitement lasted for a few hours, but the employee owners settled in quickly. They got back to doing what they do best — supporting all of the company’s store locations. Only now, they have the space they need to be more productive than ever.