Building for an Internet-ready world Featured

9:42am EDT July 22, 2002
Verne McClelland can’t tell you how his labor-intensive business fits into an e-commerce model, but when technology does force changes to the daily operations, his company will be ready.

McClelland and Bill Tyers, co-owners of Mentor-based Moving Solutions Inc., completed their move in February, delivering 200 truckloads of materials to the new building. McClelland worked with the architect on every detail, right down to “what the window sills will look like.”

And although he didn’t know how his company might use technology in the future, he wanted to be ready to do so.

“We chose the move to coincide with putting our LAN on the Internet,” says McClelland. “Many of our customers want to communicate via e-mail. We weren’t e-mail ready or Internet ready at the old place.”

But hooking into the Internet isn’t as simple as plugging in a modem. McClelland had to decide the ISP, how to connect the LAN to the 25 workstations (they don’t have an IT manager on staff) and even how the company would be connected to the Internet. He eventually settled on a dedicated digital line with a 56K modem (the preferred DSL option is not currently available in Mentor).

Long before those connections took place, McClelland had to decide where the ports should be located. His solution was to make nearly every area Internet accessible.

“When we were rolling out the wiring diagrams, I wired the building to death,” he says. “I’ve got ports where we may never need ports, but I know that I’ve got the ability to plug something in almost everywhere. Phone lines, data lines, modem lines — I don’t think you can have too many of them. We’ve got them everywhere.”

With its frenzied rate of change, it’s often difficult, if not impossible, to plan how companies will utilize technology in the future, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be planned for, says William Nice, principal of Chartwell Group LLC.

“In the last two buildings we have been involved in, we have made accommodations. We have put a conduit going from the street into the building and a second conduit that’s totally empty,” he says. “We’ve done that in anticipation of our clients needing a fiber optic cable at some point or who knows what kind of new technology will come out.

“Things are changing so quickly, it’s much less expensive when you’re building a building to put this pipe or conduit in the ground to bring any kind of new technology in than it is five years out to be digging a trench out to the street to bring it in.” How to reach: Moving Solutions Inc., (440) 946-9300; Chartwell Group LLC, (216) 360-0009

Daniel G. Jacobs (djacobs@sbnnet.com) is senior editor of SBN.