You might notice that the newest advertisements, catalogs, and detail sheets from Tournesol Siteworks carry the phrase in the title of this blog – Successful sites start here
For the better part of the last decade, we’ve introduced ourselves as the company at the intersection of landscape and architecture. While we still are, we’re focusing our message on a more important part of our business – you!
Though we’ve expanded our manufacturing footprint over the years, the real thing that’s allowed us to grow our business is a dedication to customer success. We’re pleased that you continue to make us your first choice, which we think reflects the effort we make to ensure your projects come out the way you want them to.
Whether in sales, engineering, or on the shop floor, our employees ask themselves “is this the way the customer would want it done?” We’ve chosen our tagline as a means of reflecting who we are, and who we’re committed to be. Give us the opportunity and put this promise to the test – we’ll do everything we can to make your next project a success!
One of the most important things that Tournesol Siteworks offers is the promise to make sure that things are correct. Recently a project came to our attention that demonstrated that commitment.
The project in question was a mixed-use development in Oakland, completed in the Summer of 2016. Our Wilshire Collection planters had been specified both on a second-floor terrace area as well as along the corners of the main structure.
Northern California has had quite a rainy season so far. Shortly after it started, our regional sales manager Troy Nottingham received a call from the landscape contractor on the project, complaining about leaking and deforming pots. We quickly contacted our local distributor to figure out exactly what we sold on the project.
Before we got the information from the distributor, the general contractor escalated the issue by emailing us, the specifying landscape architect, owner, and everyone else. Troy adjusted his schedule and visited the project the next day to assess the situation.
It was a fairly simple answer – there were 60″L x 18″W x 36″H planters at the corners of the project, and the ones facing west had nothing to block the rain. The pots were plumbed for irrigation, but not drainage, and were filling up with water. As they filled, the walls flexed out significantly, something that won’t typically happen with our containers. In addition, the caulk seal around the irrigation penetration wasn’t holding, and water was leaking out.
Troy followed up the site visit with a full report to the landscape architect, general contractor, and landscape contractor. He gave an analysis of the problem, and provided several suggestions to relieve the stress on the containers and solve the problem.
The next week he called the project manager for the landscape contractor, and asked about the next steps. Sheepishly, the contractor admitted that Tournesol had provided the pots for the second-floor terrace (which were doing just fine), but that they had gone to another manufacturer for the ones on the ground floor(!). He hadn’t realized it initially when calling us, only finding out after speaking with their purchaser.
We were of course relieved to know that it wasn’t our product that was the issue. It’s also good to know that when contractors feel that something is wrong, they can count on us to make it right. However, we’d prefer not to have to troubleshoot someone else’s problem!
Tournesol Siteworks of Union City announced that it has acquired the assets of Leader Manufacturing, Inc., based in Port Orchard, WA. Leader has been selling a wide range of metal and wood site furnishings since 1980 under the FairWeather brand name.
FairWeather is a vertically-integrated manufacturer with an experienced production team, which complements Tournesol’s current capabilities in FRP fiberglass and lightweight GFRC concrete. With the acquisition Tournesol will gain the capacity to competitively manufacture products for the commercial landscape marketplace in any commercially-required material.
According to Christopher Lyon, President of Tournesol Siteworks, “this acquisition makes us into the broadest-category manufacturer in the commercial landscape marketplace, and will allow us to open up a whole new front for product development. The existing FairWeather focus on product quality and customer service fits well with ours, and should simplify the integration.”
Richard and Cathy Flaherty, co-owners of FairWeather, are delighted with the opportunity that Tournesol Siteworks presents to its employees, and potential growth for the FairWeather and FairWinds brands of site furniture. While the Flaherty’s have been approached, several times regarding acquisition, Tournesol was the first company that presented the size, vision and culture that was a strong fit with the principles and ethics they had set for the past 27 years. The sale to Tournesol was a natural next step for the evolution of the brand.
Employees at both locations are excited about the new opportunity. We’ll feature more FairWeather furnishings in future blog posts – stay tuned to find out more!
The Association for Corporate Growth is a national business group that promotes itself as the “pre-eminent organization dedicated to helping middle-market companies grow.” Tournesol Siteworks was recently nominated for their “Outstanding Growth Awards” as one of the standouts in the San Francisco Bay Area. It’s a recognition of the business we’ve worked hard to build over the past 20+ years, as well as a reflection of the construction market climate that we’re enjoying right now.
This from the ACG-San Francisco website:
SF-ACG seeks to identify, understand and disseminate those qualities that lead to superior growth and overall performance in Middle Market Companies. Each year we recognize the company or organization that exemplifies these superlatives with our Outstanding Growth Award.
We’re honored to be included in this group of impressive companies. We’ve been able to grow at a 30% rate over the past few years, thanks to the hard work of the entire Tournesol Siteworks team. This recognition is one that we can all be proud of – and one that we hope to continue to build on!
There is nothing quite as gratifying as doing work that goes into your own hometown. I live in Redwood City, CA, a smallish town in the middle of the San Francisco peninsula. Just recently a large new office building opened downtown. Box (the cloud storage company) is the major tenant. I took these photos last weekend when walking downtown to see a movie. This plaza is just down the street from the theater.
Redwood City is a rapidly redeveloping part of the peninsula – in addition to Crossing 900, there are many apartments and condominium complexes being built. We’ve had products specified in many of them. Downtown Redwood City is right on the train line into San Francisco and, up to this point most, development has been going south towards Palo Alto and Silicon Valley. We’re finally catching up – with a vengeance. I’m proud of the work we do, and it’s fun to be able to point out projects we work on to friends, especially when you can see the results. They’re always surprised with what I do for a living!
The Varsity-Berkeley apartment building recently opened up in downtown Berkeley. The project, designed by Johnson-Lyman architects of Walnut Creek, is anticipated to mostly house students attending the nearby University of California. The building features a number of green elements, including solar power, a greenroof, not to mention an amenity deck for the residents designed by landscape architects Thomas Baak and Associates.
The project was built as an urban in-fill project by Brown Construction of Sacramento, replacing a repurposed church. We were fortunate to have been part of the design process, supporting Baak and Assocs. through the early phases, and then working with Cima’s Landscape of Rancho Cordova as the project moved towards completion.
The on-structure landscaping involved two parts of the building – a 5th floor non-accessible terrace with the green roof, solar panels and planters, and a 7th floor amenity deck. Our product was extensively used in both locations. The two pictures above show the amenity areas, which feature walkways and patio space on concrete pavers and our Boulevard Wood tiles, all resting on our VersiJack pedestals. The finished deck level is approx. 8-12″ above the roof membrane.
The planters were also used as a location to hide the irrigation control valves, as shown in the image above. We frequently get questions from designers about what they can do with these, and we think this is a pretty good idea! The designers chose the relatively bold Oxide color for the project, which turned out well, especially with the other strong accent colors.
All of the Wilshire rectangle planters were recessed below the finished deck level and placed on VersiJack pedestals below the deck level to allow drainage, rather than set on top of the Boulevard wood tiles. This is one of the larger applications of this new product, and we’re looking forward to seeing how they withstand the relatively challenging environment of student housing.
We’ll look forward to getting updates to show you how they wear!
Last week I had the opportunity to visit our new plant in El Paso, TX, meet many of the people we have working there, and see some of our newest products.
They’ve already begun producing many of Tournesol Siteworks’ GFRC products (planters, TWIG and Rune benches, garbage cans, etc.), but there is a full line of Stonewear products that I wanted to learn about.
We have complete mold-making capabilities in the new-to-us facilities, so we’ve been working to coordinate how we exchange information between our California engineering staff and the toolmaker. Because everyone builds their molds differently, we’ve had to get used to their process (and vice-versa). Things are progressing as well as we could hope.
The planter barrier products that Stonewear has offered for the past decade is something we’re looking forward to promoting. While other manufacturers create a barrier by simply pre-casting a massively heavy planter and shipping it cross country, Stonewear figured out a better way. The barrier products are all light weight GFRC and designed to ship anywhere across the country. Each barrier integrates a lightweight internal mold and rebar system that lets the local contractor add the weight using inexpensive premix concrete. For a simple barrier inside a round planter (shown above), the form creates a jersey barrier inside the planter that will stop 4,000 lbs moving at 50mph!
For maximum security applications, Stonewear designed a planter barrier to the US government’s DOS K-4 standard. Buried up to the base in the soil and then filled with premix concrete, it can stop 15,000 lbs. moving at 50mph – adequate for most government buildings. There aren’t many easier, more attractive ways for a designer to integrate a maximum security barrier into a project!
We’ve offered metal bollards and bike racks from our partners at Street & Garden Furniture in the past, but Stonewear bollards introduce a new element into our line. Either as a high security bollard cover over 8″ steel pipe that can stop 5,000lbs moving at 30mph, or simply decorative bollard covers (as seen above) that sit over 6″ steel pipe – we now have an answer for any application.
Of course the largest component of what Tournesol Siteworks does (and what Stonewear did) is make pots and planters. We’ll be producing all of our shapes and sizes, and most of the offering that Stonewear has had over the years. It’s a great fit – a little overlap, but our offering will grow dramatically in GFRC. We’ll also be introducing many of their shapes in FRP fiberglass over time as well.
And finally, fountains! I spent quite a bit of time working to understand the turnkey fountain products. While somewhat complex with lots of options, Stonewear turnkey fountains offer exceptional value for a complete fountain system. They have hundreds of impressive installations across the country, proving the reliability of the system design.
Tournesol will be consolidating the full current Stonewear product offering into its existing lineup. Stonewear’s focus on products for urban landscapes fits perfectly with Tournesol’s existing strategic direction. Most exciting is the line of pre-engineered fountains that Stonewear has been manufacturing for the last 20 years. There are hundreds of options, and when combined with Stonewear’s installation services, adding a dramatic splash to a project couldn’t be any easier.
We’ve been close with Stonewear for nearly a decade, and have always admired the level of craftsmanship of their work. Their focus on operational excellence in GFRC will enhance Tournesol Siteworks’ offering in that material, and we’re looking forward to expanding our sales in lightweight concrete with the improved capacity.
Stonewear has a been a leader in lightweight concrete with a history going back over 30 years. Their craftsmen are some of the best when it comes to GFRC, and will be also manufacturing much of our concrete product in the El Paso and Juarez locations. This will free up space and labor for more FRP fabrication in Northern California. We’ll explore more of their product options and features on future blog postings.
Former Stonewear owner Ben Vandenbossche commented that “Tournesol will be a great home for the Stonewear product line. They understand selling and marketing to designers, and we’re looking forward to them continuing the Stonewear tradtion” Ben will remain active in a consulting role for several months. The rest of the employees will join Tournesol Siteworks as Stonewear’s operations in El Paso and Ciudad Juarez will be expanded as volume increases.
“Why do all the industry trade shows get stacked on top of one another?”, I found myself thinking after ten days on the road. The last six weeks have been full of travel & conferences – Bond MultiFamily (a meetup of architects & product manufacturers specializing in multi-family residential construction) in April, followed by the mid-year meeting of the Landscape Architecture Foundation in Washington DC in early May. The photo above was taken of the CCDC project in Washington during the LAF meeting. We provided planter liners for the roofdeck gardens for this spectacular project – we’ll feature it in a blog post soon.
From there it was on to trade shows – Over the past two weeks we’ve exhibited at the American Institute of Architects National Convention (Atlanta), the Hospitality Design Expo (Las Vegas), the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (in New York with our partners from Luxxbox), and finally RECon (Las Vegas), the exhibition of the Intenational Council of Shopping Centers.
We met with well over 500 architects, interior designers, landscape architects and shopping center owners/managers. There’s nothing like listening to your existing and potential customers – enlightening, to say the least.
Some of the highlights from the shows:
The South Chair and the Pillow Chair (see photo below). Both come in bright, interesting colors which grab designer’s attention. We knew that bright colors were in – but this confirmed it. While very different in execution, they herald our entrance into the cafe and casual furniture business.
Combine wood with brightly colored metal or concrete and people will notice it. Our Boulevard wood, whether in planters, furnishings or flooring, was the clear star of the show. The sustainable story, combined with its natural good looks makes it easy to get excited about.
A surprise from this series of shows was the number of commercial interior designers that actively specify products in our markets. We met several that have specified us in the past (especially in the hospitality business), and most really like the work we do. It was a great reminder that our reach is sometimes greater than we think!
We recently became involved with the Avalon development in Alpharetta, GA, providing them with our VGP living wall system. From the Avalon website: “It’s located in the heart of Alpharetta. It is a sustainably designed, 86-acre development with more than 500,000 square feet of retail, a 12-screen all premium theater, a full-service hotel (coming in Phase II), Class A office, single-family residences and luxury rental homes. It infuses resort-level hospitality throughout a walkable, seamlessly connected community of shopping, dining, entertainment, living and working. It’s more than just another place to go, it’s a place to be—a hub of local art and activity that delivers the luxury of the modern South.”