Steel shipping containers to be transformed into offices in ETC's latest building expansion | Business News | madison.com

2022-06-15 22:01:14 By : Ms. Eva Shao

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Tim Nolan, center, ETC's principal engineer for rigging, checks in with rigging product development manager Steven Ricks, left, in one of the company's five shipping container offices. The Middleton professional lighting company is building an addition that will include 40 of the re-purposed steel containers used as offices. 

Nick Veenstra, research and development project manager at ETC, heads down a stairway along stacked shipping containers that have been transformed into offices at the Middleton lighting company, 3031 Pleasant View Road.

The LED research and development offices are built from former cargo containers at ETC, Electronic Theatre Controls, Middleton. 

The company headquarters of ETC, Electronic Theatre Controls, is at 3031 Pleasant View Road, Middleton.

In the past, they were used to cart merchandise across the ocean — perhaps clothing or other non-perishables.

Now, 40 corrugated steel shipping containers will see new life as offices for as many as 100 employees of ETC, Electronic Theatre Controls, in Middleton.

The upcycling project is part of a nearly 75,000-square-foot addition that will be built onto ETC’s headquarters at 3031 Pleasant View Road. It will make room for a total of 250 more employees at the theatrical lighting company that already has a staff of more than 1,000 worldwide, including 600 in Middleton and 250 in Mazomanie.

The $16 million addition will be the second expansion of ETC’s main building since it was built in 2004, with a showpiece lobby whose mesh walls are designed to look like a scene out of Midtown Manhattan in the 1930s, complete with a theater marquee, a reception desk like the diner counter in Edward Hopper’s painting “Nighthawks,” and the Empire State Building outlined as a backdrop.

The salvaged shipping containers will make up part of the new floor space, and will house ETC’s research and development department.

Each unit is 40 feet long, eight feet wide and nine-and-a-half feet tall, said Brad Crowley, president of 1848 Construction, the Middleton design-build firm in charge of the construction project.

“These containers are called one-trip containers. ... They travel the ocean one time, bringing goods and products here,” Crowley said. They are manufactured in Far East Asia, probably China, he said.

ETC has been experimenting with the cargo carriers for the past couple of years, first with one container and then adding four more onto its manufacturing floor.

The units have been gaining popularity across the U.S. They are used for tiny homes and more: Las Vegas has a container-built shopping center; Fort Worth, Texas, has a three-story office building underway; and in Columbus, Ohio, the shipping structures are being transformed into an apartment building.

Crowley said ETC’s containers — which will be visible to motorists along Airport Road through large glass windows on the north side of the addition — will make a mark on this area.

“We have no research on it but we think this is the largest container project in the state,” he said. “It’s pretty neat. ... It’s a fun project because it’s new and different.”

ETC’s former cargo carriers are scheduled to arrive in late June or early July. The entire addition is expected to be completed in spring 2018.

The city of Middleton has agreed to provide up to $3.6 million in tax incremental financing. Under the plan, as the addition is built and ETC pays higher property taxes, a portion of those taxes will be returned to the company, totaling up to $3.6 million. ETC will have to keep an average of 625 full-time employees during that period.

ETC has facilities around the world and continues to grow. In April, ETC bought an Austin, Texas, lighting firm that specializes in live events. High End Systems has about 70 employees and had been owned by Barco, of Belgium.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Founded in 1976, privately owned ETC has its lights and lighting equipment installed in venues worldwide, from Madison’s Overture Center to the Copenhagen Opera House to the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi.

The company had $270 million in revenue in 2016.

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Judy Newman is a business reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal.

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Tim Nolan, center, ETC's principal engineer for rigging, checks in with rigging product development manager Steven Ricks, left, in one of the company's five shipping container offices. The Middleton professional lighting company is building an addition that will include 40 of the re-purposed steel containers used as offices. 

Nick Veenstra, research and development project manager at ETC, heads down a stairway along stacked shipping containers that have been transformed into offices at the Middleton lighting company, 3031 Pleasant View Road.

The LED research and development offices are built from former cargo containers at ETC, Electronic Theatre Controls, Middleton. 

The company headquarters of ETC, Electronic Theatre Controls, is at 3031 Pleasant View Road, Middleton.

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