In 1989 a small trucking company relocated from Missouri to Tulsa to better serve its largest client. Today, more than 25 years later, Melton Truck Lines has grown from a fleet of 30 trucks and a handful of employees to more than 1,100 trucks and more than 1,200 employees.
Bob Peterson, president of Melton Truck Lines, says that with the growth the company had experienced over the last quarter-century, it was time to build a new headquarters for the trucking business.
“As our business has grown, from 30 trucks to now 1,100, it simply requires more space,” says Peterson. “We would have to push out a wall, remodel, gobble up the conference rooms and turn them into offices … we simply required more space for our employees.”
Peterson’s goal for the new facility was to provide space for all of its employees to feel comfortable. A large atrium greeting visitors to the facility would connect the administrative personnel to one another, as well as to the truck drivers. Peterson wanted to maintain the feel of Melton Truck Lines of a quarter-century ago, when only a few dozen worked for the company.
“We interviewed several architectural firms and explained to them the feel of what we wanted … we always try to keep a small company feel even as we’ve gotten larger,” he says. “For years at our old facility, there was one floor, one lounge, and you bumped into people all the time. We needed to build for the next decade or so, but because land is precious for a trucking company, we had to go up. How do you keep people connected on three floors and 80,000 square feet?”
The Tulsa-based architecture firm Kinslow, Keith & Todd was awarded the project. Lead Architect Jim Boulware says that Peterson’s idea of the open atrium is what drove the design of the three-story building. A large fireplace with an 80-foot chimney anchors the space. A 16-by-10-foot television monitor hangs above the fireplace and shows weather reports from various parts of the country. Commons facilities – including the atrium, a cafeteria, gym and offices – occupy the rest of the first floor.
Offices and conference rooms occupy the second and third floors. Peterson says that because of the atrium, employees can stand on one side of the second or third floor and see into offices across the atrium. More than 40 monitors are located in common areas and convey information about company news, senior drivers that are expected to be in Tulsa, employee anniversaries, birthdays, promotions and the cafeteria’s daily menus.
“It’s really unique that Bob wanted to offer a lot of amenities to employees, and that made this project special,” says Boulware. “A lot of services he’s providing, the big open space, that costs money, and a lot don’t see that return on investment; he saw value in that. It’s worked better than he even thought it was going to. Even though there’s an area dedicated to drivers, he’s been surprised at how often they gather in the atrium with the fireplace. That was his vision, and our challenge was trying to make that happen.”
“We were fortunate to assemble a talented and cohesive team,” says Rhonda Meshew, the primary in-house liaison for the project. “The firm of Kinslow, Keith & Todd brought impressive architectural talents to the table with Jim Boulware, Shannon Darnell and Nicole Watts. Fleming Building Company, under the direction of Ray Miller, was general contractor for the project. Additional team members were Phil Long, interior design consultant, and Russ Elliott, Melton’s senior vice president of operations. Each party listened well to the open design concept ideas Bob envisioned and developed the outstanding facility we now occupy.”
Meshew adds that because connectivity to other buildings on the Melton campus is important, landscape architect Steven R. Williams and Kerry Blankenship were tasked with designing and installing the surrounding area outside of the new headquarters.
“It has been my honor to help Bob and his executives and contractors with this ongoing project,” says Long. “Working with Terry Donovan and his brilliant staff at Interior Logistics and the innovative Mark Hawley on custom furnishings for three floors was pleasant and rewarding. Together, we have created a sophisticated and comfortable setting that is timeless in which the employees, including the drivers, seem to enjoy.”