Theissen Training Systems is expanding in Florida and renovating a former Gainesville hotspot on SW 42 Avenue. A German-based manufacturer of military live-fire target systems, Theissen has purchased warehouse property in the space long known as “the old Alley Katz”. Formerly Gainesville’s bowling hotspot until the business closed, the warehouse property will gain new life with Theissen.
This marks the second Florida location for the world leader in the target manufacturing industry. Theissen has operated a facility in Chiefland since 2001 and enjoys a global customer base, including several branches of the US government.
“We are experiencing growth that has necessitated a larger space,” Tilman Rumpf, president of Theissen Training Systems, Inc. US. “We also have a need to hire and attract a wider variety of team members. Rather than expand in Chiefland, we felt that Gainesville with a great talent pool was the right place to meet both of those needs.”
A team led by Peter-Paul Theissen, a founding member of Theissen Training Systems, set out to find the right space for their needs. It was a tall order; they were seeking about 50,000 square feet near the interstate, but also with proximity to the University of Florida.
Mr. Theissen ultimately found Alley Katz building in December 2018. While initially it was an unconventional choice, the team saw the building’s potential and it quickly emerged as the front runner. Ongoing remodelling work caused some challenges and delays over the next few months. The deal was shepherded by local commercial real estate agent Brent Riley, Broker/Vice President of Coldwell Banker MM Parrish, and eventually closed in August 2019.
The renovation team discussed plans during their weekly meeting. The group includes (l to r) Dalton Baker, Superintendent, Michael A. Conroy General Building Contractor; Michael Pellett, Architect, MPA; Shabnam Rumpf-Monadizadeh, Project Manager, Theissen Training Systems; Michael Conroy, GC, Michael A. Conroy General Building Contractor; and Brent Riley, Broker/Vice President, Coldwell Banker MM Parrish Realtors. Photo: TJ Morrissey.
Work has already started on the renovation which is anticipated to take about six months. Shabnam Rumpf, a UF Doctorate in Construction Management, who also happens to be Mr. Rumpf’s wife, was brought on the project by Theissen Training Systems to lead the building redesign project and turn it into a friendly and modern workspace.
“The building will be divided into several sections, including areas for engineering, administration, logistics, factory operations, storage and future growth,” Mr. Rumpf said. “We’re taking great care in creating a space that our team members will enjoy, including a courtyard, a dining area and more, and we are using innovative building features to bring in natural light.”
Several local engineering firms and contractors are involved in the build-out, including Architect Michael Pellett, structural engineering & consulting firm GSE, construction management contractor Mike Conroy Construction, civil engineering firm Gmuer Engineering, and Sustainable Design Group (SDG) for the mechanical, electrical, fire protection, and plumbing engineering.
With the facility updates in progress, hiring is next on the horizon. Theissen is seeking to add several engineers in the near term, and will need many additional workers in time. In addition, Theissen plans to offer UF and Santa Fe students internships and employment opportunities. They recently signed their largest contract ever, so growth is on the horizon. The Chiefland facility will remain open. Some employees will move from that facility, while others will be new hires.
Mr. Rumpf, a German native, has been living in Gainesville since 2014 and is looking forward to working in the city rather than commuting to Chiefland.
“There is a lot of opportunity in the Gainesville business community and we’re ready to tap into that with our move from Chiefland to Gainesville,” he said. “Between the access to talent at the University and the connections we can make with the Chamber of Commerce, we see a lot of potential to grow our operation even more. We feel very welcomed here.”