William B. Meyer, Inc., executed a corporate headquarter relocation for The United Illuminating Company, a subsidiary of UIL Holdings Corporation, in what was the largest corporate move in Connecticut for 2012. United Illuminating, as a result of a century’s worth of expansion, operated out of six locations throughout Connecticut providing electricity to customers. In order to centralize and consolidate their offices, United Illuminating built a 375,200 square foot facility in Orange, CT to house its employees and equipment. It was not just the sheer size and volume of this move that made it unique. The greatest move challenge would lie in devising a series of best practices to ensure against service interruption for ~325,000 clients in Connecticut.
Dorothea Brennan, Senior Project Manager for United Illuminating, was tasked with organizing and managing the move for her company. Faced with moving over 1,000 employees and 600 truckloads of heavy equipment, Brennan researched best practices through industry contacts, IFMA, APQC and Hammer and Co. After evaluating the scope of work, a decision was made to open an RFP (Request for Proposal) to evaluate the services of different office relocation companies. Steve Fox, Partner at Fort Point Project Management of Boston, MA, and his team were selected as the Relocation Consultants. He states, “Consolidating six large office and operations spaces into a new two building campus was an enormous project. The sheer scope of the work required competitive sourcing, which demanded a comprehensive RFP for moving services.” United Illuminating evaluated a variety of proposals and in the end selected MEYER Office Moving for an exclusive three-year move contract.
Paul Kennedy, Senior Account Manager – Office Moving for William B. Meyer, Inc., has maintained a professional relationship with United Illuminating since 2006 and spearheaded the RFP effort. “I first began working with United Illuminating six years ago managing a series of smaller-scale office moves. I believe their familiarity with us – including our ability to handle large equipment through our rigging solutions, combined with our expertise in office moves and the proximity of our offices to theirs, gave us an edge over the competition. United Illuminating knew we were a full-service solution provider,” Kennedy said.
At the first meeting between United Illuminating, Fort Point, and MEYER Office Moving a variety of best practices were identified to ensure that a seamless, efficient and effective move would be conducted. These best practices ranged from a pre-move division of responsibility between the three companies, establishing checks and guidelines during the move to continuously improve and better services, designating “move captains” to oversee the move, using efficient, effective packing materials, and creating post-move evaluations to ensure that every loose end was covered. Of primary concern always, was to maintain all services for United Illuminating’s customers. As stated by Fox, “The meeting emphasized safety as the primary driver and also addressed a variety of different types of risks to avoid impact to the operations of United Illuminating.”
Established: each company should have autonomy over the sections of the move in which it specializes. Fort Point, as a specialist in project management, would liaise between United Illuminating and MEYER Office Moving to clearly match the expectations of the former with the moving practices of the latter. MEYER Office Moving, a specialist in flawless move execution, maintained supervisory staff on the ground at each stage of the move to manage logistics. MEYER Office Moving would also coordinate with another William B. Meyer business line, MEYER Rigging, for its expertise in transporting, heavy, specialized items. These items, including large cable coils, utility pole units and transformers, ranged in weight from 600 to 12,000 pounds each, and could not be transported through regular channels.
Established: United Illuminating would designate move captains from different work areas to manage each move stage. They would use their intimate knowledge of the different business units to identify and manage unique requirements, communicate these throughout the move. The move captains worked together to develop and share best practices.
Established: The move would be divided into 11 different phases. The first move was the largest office move with over 160 employees. An after-move review evaluated what worked and what needed to improve from a sample of employees. The move team implemented the identified improvements for the next move phase, just three days later. After each phase, survey responses from United Illuminating employees and feedback from move team captains would be reviewed. Any negative comments were evaluated and improved for the next phase. Dorothea Brennan managed this process. Using her background in process management and her familiarity with United Illuminating’s new, two-building facility, Brennan, in conjunction with the move captains and management, determined the number and size of each move phase. “We moved support and administrative employees first. The idea was to keep our core service providers running while we smoothed out any wrinkles. This way, the move would continuously improve and become more efficient, and effective,” she said.
The employee surveys covered a variety of topics, but clearly addressed satisfaction with move capabilities. These surveys determined that MEYER’s team was efficient at IT disconnects. This duty, initially kept in-house, was absorbed seamlessly into MEYER’s responsibilities for later moves. Additionally, the MEYER Office Moving team developed a color-coded system for each destination and work station, so that when the time came to re-install office furniture and work stations, the work would be completed without confusion. The surveys reflect this. In the post move survey 100% of the employees rated the overall move good or excellent, with the vast majority rating the effort excellent.
Established: A move support team would form to help United Illuminating employees’ transition to their new workspace. Each move support team would be formed from members from the United Illuminating project team, Fort Point, IT support specialists, and MEYER movers. The support team would respond to any concerns and questions from employees to help facilitate the office move.
Established: Use plastic crates rather than boxes to improve the speed and ease of packing and unpacking efforts. Because it is already built, and supports more weight than a standard box, less time is spent building boxes, and more time is spent packing.
Established: The creation of a comprehensive Risk Management Plan that would allow United Illuminating to respond to business needs, customer requirements, and weather events. This plan proved vital when severe thunderstorms threatened United Illuminating services. With an hour’s notice, the move team was able to seamlessly reschedule a moving phase. A few days later, this move was effectively completed.
Using these best practices, MEYER Office Moving managed each of the eleven different moving phases better than the last. The best practices not only designed a system that would continuously evaluate strengths and weaknesses, but allowed MEYER Moving to achieve United Illuminating’s corporate goals. All business operations remained active throughout the move with minimal disruption to its core services and to its customers. Dorothea Brennan communicated her satisfaction with MEYER, “MEYER was a great partner in this major undertaking. They brought years of experience, adapted to meet our needs, and I received very positive feedback from United Illuminating’s employees about the professionalism of MEYER employees.”