Hutton Co. expands downtown Chattanooga footprint

Hutton Co. expands downtown Chattanooga footprint

October 16th, 2013 by Mike Pare in Business Around the Region

Bob Elliott, left, and Karen Hutton talk about the new space acquired by the Hutton Company.

Photo by Angela Lewis/Times Free Press.

HUTTON CO.

• Founded: 1998

• Location: 736 Cherry St.

• Workforce: 114 people; 75 in Chattanooga

• Growth: Revenues are expected this year to quadruple over 2011

Source: Hutton Co.

Karen Hutton says one of Hutton Co.'s employees recently had word of four new project approvals - in one day.

"We had 40 people down there," the development company's chief executive said about the employee's work area. "Everybody was cheering. We were so excited for him."

It's that kind of rapid growth of the company, which also has a flourishing construction business, that prompted Hutton Co. to buy an office building next door to its existing downtown Chattanooga headquarters.

Hutton Co. paid $700,000 for a two-story structure on Cherry Street where it's making room for the expanding business. While the CEO declined to give a revenue figure for 2013, she said it's expected to quadruple from just two years ago.

The 9,600-square-foot structure next to Hutton's Heritage Center home office will be renovated to create added space for the company's workforce, which has nearly doubled in Chattanooga to 75 in the past couple of years. Hutton said the company's total headcount companywide has more than doubled to 114.

Hutton Co.'s business has surged in recent years as it carved out a niche of building stores for such growing retailers as Family Dollar, O'Reilly Auto Parts, AutoZone and Tractor Supply Co. Even through the Great Recession, those businesses continued to expand their footprints, Hutton officials said.

Meanwhile, Hutton Co. has launched into new territory. For example, the company is working with Lowe's and it's building a pair of Belk stores - one in Huntsville, Ala., and the other in Salisbury, N.C., where Hutton also is the shopping center developer.

"It's 100 percent leased," Hutton said.

In addition, sister company Hutton Construction has expanded as it has taken on a slate of business beyond building for Hutton Co.

"We're diversifying our contracting business," Hutton said.

Bob Elliott, Hutton Construction's vice president of construction, said he left Chattanooga-based shopping center developer CBL & Associates Properties Inc. to join Hutton. He cited the fast-paced growth path of Hutton.

"There's never a landing, just more stairs," he quipped.

Hutton said the company had been looking for more than a decade for the right person to fill Elliott's role in the construction firm.

"Bob has stepped in and been a great leader," she said. "She has shored it up."

Geoffrey Smith, Hutton's president, said the company has a drive to keep getting better at serving its clients.

"We want to be the best Family Dollar developer in the country," he said, for example.

Elliott said drawings to renovate for the former Herbert Thornbury law offices on Cherry are in progress.

"We want to get it right," he said about the work on the building which years ago was downtown housing.

All the renovations to both Hutton buildings are to be done by the end of 2014, officials said.

"It will be nice and not over the top," Hutton said.

Contact Mike Pare at mpare@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6318.