US Builders Review                                                    

Facilities Connection Inc.

Modular solutions integration in El Paso
Written by: 
Tom Faunce
Produced by: 
Ryan Fecteau

Founded in 1987 by Patty Holland-Branch, Facilities Connection Inc. is a modular solutions integrator focusing on furniture management and complete interior design services. Located in El Paso, Texas, Facilities Connection has been focusing on incorporating sustainability into its projects.

Originally known as PZH Contract Design Inc., Facilities Connection was founded as a commercial interior design firm. Today, the company has become a highly diversified business offering multiple products and services. In the past five years, Facilities Connection has grown from a regional customer base to maintaining a national presence on multiple military bases. Though its work is heavily focused on federal clients, the company is also focused regionally in the commercial, health care and higher education sectors.

Facilities Connection Inc.

Holland-Branch founded Facilities Connection based on principles of progressive change management, building strategic alliances with large and small businesses, and the act of continually reinventing oneself. Holland-Branch has instilled these values in the 25 employees who work for her. “We have a lot of people on our staff with tenure and a lot of experience,” says Andrea Ross, lead interior designer for Facilities Connection. “Our leadership is really great. Patty is always striving to make us better at what we do.”

Recognition

Facilities Connection continues to grow its team by hiring talented and motivated people who are aligned with the company’s core values which are perpetrated in everything the Facilities Connection team does. Investing heavily in training, as well as the utilization of the latest technology, has earned the company numerous awards and recognition. As a preferred Haworth dealer, Facilities Connection earned the company’s most prestigious award, the President’s Club. Facilities Connection continues to receive sales achievement and recognition for quality and best practices.

Throughout her career, Holland-Branch has personally received numerous regional, professional and civic awards. In 1993 she was the recipient of the YWCA Reach Award for Entrepreneurship.  In 1994, she became the first woman to become chairman of the board for the Greater El Paso Chamber of Commerce. In the same year, she was also appointed to serve on the Texas Board for Economic Development. Holland-Branch served a six year term on the El Paso Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank and was inaugurated into the Junior Achievement Business Hall of Fame in 2011.

At the 13th Annual Inner City Capital Connections (ICCC), Holland-Branch and Facilities Connection were recognized as one of Fortune Magazine’s Inner City 100 winners, ranking No. 20 in the 2011 list of 100 fastest-growing inner city businesses in America.                                                                                                                           

Throughout its existence, Facilities Connection has been involved in numerous projects which have integrated technology and sustainability. The company completed a job in 2012 that was a testament to the fact that LEED certification can be achieved if it is given priority. Project Vida is a nonprofit organization that worked with PSRBB Architects and Facilities Connection to achieve LEED Platinum certification. “We were able to provide a raised floor and modular interiors solution for them,” says Ross. “They didn’t have the resources of a private organization but they proved that with the right strategy any company can achieve LEED certification.”

A specific project that Ross remembers as a significant job for Facilities Connection took place at Hub International in El Paso in 2009. This was a modular interiors and furniture, fixtures and equipment (FF&E) project that took place on the seventh and eighth floors of the downtown building. “It consisted of concrete raised floors, modular walls and modular electrical systems,” Ross explains. “We also did the interior design.”

A few challenges that Facilities Connection faced in this project involved existing mechanical and electrical systems as well as the deck-to-deck height. “Because it was on the seventh and eighth floors we were somewhat restricted with the space we had to work with,” says Ross. “It was also an occupied building so we had to be conscientious to complete the job without disturbing the other occupants. “Integrated project delivery, a talented team of architects, engineers, contractors, and designers and visionary owners/stakeholders truly led to the success of this project.

One of the first projects that Facilities Connection completed with modular walls took place in 2005 with a title company called Stewart Title El Paso. “This job also consisted of furniture and interior design,” recounts Ross. “It was a big deal for us because it was our first sizable project with modular walls. Stewart Title El Paso continues to be a valued client, as we have completed several moves, adds, and changes to their interiors over the years.  This company has been a mentor to Facilities Connection since 2005 and exemplifies the meaning of commitment to community service.”

Green building

Facilities Connection has been a member of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) since 2006, though the company has always believed in and practiced sustainability. “We think it’s very important to support our local USGBC chapter and the national organization,” says Ross. “We like to be involved in local events. Having LEED professionals on staff expresses that we go that extra step and that we believe strongly in sustainability.”

Ross began her career as a residential designer in Houston. After relocating to El Paso, she joined the Facilities Connection team in the sales department as an account manager. While working her way up the company, Holland-Branch helped and guided her to become a LEED Accredited Professional. “Patty has always been very supportive of anyone looking to advance themselves,” says Ross. “She was a big supporter in achieving my LEED accreditation.”

As sustainability broadens its reach in the industry, Facilities Connection is confident that its strong reputation will help to increase the awareness and practice throughout West Texas. “El Paso might not have the amount of LEED projects that other cities do, but we have a very progressive design community,” Ross explains. “I think sustainability will continue to be important and implemented in projects.”

Facilities Connection Inc. will continue to be an example and an innovator regarding green building and LEED certification. 

Strategic Partnership(s): 
Steward Title Company