Efficiency is the key to running an architectural firm that designs and builds car dealerships as one-third of their business, says Ken Turnell, a principle of Castle Designs out of Houston.
In varying sizes, the firm completes up to two projects per year. Some of them are remodel jobs, but most are start-to-finish projects.
"We take the design from the manufacturer, and meet with the client. They usually make minor changes to suit their needs," Turnell told Mega Dealer News. "Then, we do the structural, MEP and civil designs for contractors to build the project."
Most notably, the firm recently built the Lexus of Lakeway car dealership near Austin, Texas.
"Probably the finest facility to come out of our office," Turnell said.
Since the company's founding in 1952, Castle Designs has established a record of specialization in a diverse range of project types. From restaurants to churches, they have provided clients with thoughtful designs that are responsive to the environment and society, as a whole, according to their website.
"We take the design and try to make it the most energy-efficient, and the most structurally efficient, that we can," Turnell said. "We can say, 'From our experience this works better,' and clients are generally receptive to that. Car dealerships, in general, are receptive to open-minded things like that."
The biggest changes to designing car dealerships, Turnell said, is the incorporation of new technology and upgraded service centers. Most dealers are anticipating the need for such technology, and have no practical way of explaining to Castle Designs how to include it. They provide a conduit for the electric stations but leave the wiring out of the designs until the dealer knows the amperage they need for the stations.
"The dealer wants the customer there as much as they can," Turnell said. "They want them there for their service, for their parts. Dealers talk all the time about wanting 'customers for life.'"