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In The News

In The News

Worth a shot: Defender Outdoors takes aim with new shooting center

Defender Outdoors is finishing construction and getting ready for the grand opening of its $6 million shooting range facility.

The shooting range isn’t “outdoors” as the company’s name suggests. Defender Outdoors has an existing retail store in Aubrey, Texas, selling firearms for outdoorsmen and women. The company decided to keep the name “Defender Outdoors” to keep the branding consistent.

“We feel that Defender Outdoors will become a household name in Fort Worth and North Texas so want it to be associated with everything we do,” COO Chris Baker said.

Hahnfeld Hoffer Stanford is the architect and Dennett Construction is the contractor. Defender Outdoors plans to employ more than 40 people, and all employees have to be range safety officers certified by the National Rifle Association.

Along with 30 shooting lanes, the Fort Worth facility will have a 5,600-square-foot retail store selling firearms, ammunition and accessories. The building also has conference rooms, offices and lounges.

The facility will also be used for training, as Defender Outdoors will offer gun training classes on subjects such as hunter education and home defense. One room in the building, the “Simunition” room, can be set up with furniture to mimic a person’s home. Trainers will then create a mock scenario – for example, a person breaking in – and train the client on how to react to the situation.

“We should develop a training facility for civilians that teaches them responsible gun ownership, use and storage so that these tragedies can’t happen,” owner and operator Matt Johnson said.

Concrete walls, bulletproof glass, steel baffles and a lead ventilation system are among safety features installed at Defender Outdoors – features that Baker hopes will calm the fears of those with reservations about the indoor shooting range opening in Fort Worth in February.

“There’s not bullets flying out the windows,” said Baker, who is also the company’s general counsel. “There’s a lot of things that are going into it and a lot of money invested into it to make it a very safe facility for the people in it and the people around it.”

According to Baker, the company spent more than $2 million on safety improvements for its 43,000-square-foot facility, located at aptly named 2900 Shotts Street. The range equipment itself comes from Utah-based Action Target, which also supplied the equipment for the Fort Worth Police Department’s Public Safety Training Complex. The system that Defender Outdoors purchased from Action Target, known as the Total Containment system, uses steel baffles and a trap mechanism to prevent bullets and bullet fragments from leaving the building.

Defender Outdoors also installed a ventilation system meant to filter lead and other contaminants that come from shooting guns. The lead particles are gathered into drum containers and later recycled.

The features, which are not required by any regulatory body, are just a few extra steps Defender Outdoors is taking to ensure safety, Baker said.

The range is near the Fort Worth Independent School District’s Metro Opportunity High School at 2720 Cullen St. and the district’s administration building at 100 N. University Drive and in March 2014, the school district went to the Fort Worth City Council to express concerns about the planned shooting range. The district was concerned about the increased presence of guns in the area and stray bullets hurting students and faculty, according to attorney Todd Parrish, who represented the district administration.

But owner and operator Matt Johnson told council members that his company would take extra measures to ensure safety, and the city council then unanimously approved a zoning change that would allow the shooting range to be built.

Company President Will James said that he understands the public’s concern with guns but that the use of guns tends to be misunderstood.

“That is the barrier to entry for this industry,” he said. “People look at it from the outside and look in, and they just think it’s an intimidating thing to jump into.”

But Baker said he hopes Defender Outdoors will be more than just a place for people to shoot guns for fun.

“It’s something the community needs, quite frankly, not just for entertainment purposes for people to come shoot,” he said. “It’s something the community needs as a resource for firearms, someplace to turn to so they can get educated and get experience.”

A team effort

A team of seven helped bring Defender Outdoors to Fort Worth – owners and operators Matt Johnson and Eric Hove, COO and General Counsel Chris Baker, President of Sales Will James and owners Jared Shope, Ricky Stuart and Kyle Poulson.

The Fort Worth location will be Defender Outdoors’ first shooting range. The company also has a retail store in Aubrey.

In The News

In the light: PAVLOV settles into new home

The PAVLOV Agency was ready to come out into the light. Not that the creative agency, formerly known as Concussion, ever shied from a shot in the spotlight or that its creative minds aren’t ablaze with new ideas.

But in the company’s old digs on Vickery Boulevard, somewhat out of the way in a ground-floor industrial warehouse-type space, sunshine could be at a premium.

Or maybe, after 16 years, as CEO AIlen Wallach said, “It was time. Our old space was great, but it was 16 years old and we craved a change of scenery.”

Change of scenery is right. Settling in on the fourth floor of a new five-story building at the southeast corner of West Seventh Street and University Drive, the advertising agency’s new space is bursting with sunlight and open spaces.

“This time around we wanted new construction with plenty of glass and natural light, plus a killer view,” said Wallach. “Since the build-out was first generation, we had the chance to custom-design a space to fit our needs.”

The building was built by Eyeworks and is anchored by Regions Bank.

Leland Prowse of Transwestern helped PAVLOV find the space while the landlord reps were Matt Montague and Frank Taylor of JLL. The new office has 5,196 square feet compared with about 3,800 in the old building.

Wallach noted that the firm had received compliments on its old space, “but maybe more importantly, successful brands reinvent themselves from time to time to stay relevant to an evolving marketplace. What better way to make a statement than with a bold move to awesome new space?”

As far as location, Wallach says the new one has “one foot in the Cultural District and one in the vibrant, West Seventh entertainment district.”

Employees have already taken an office field trip to The Modern Art Museum to take in the Kaws exhibit and grabbed street tacos from a food truck in the area.

As for design, Wallach said his vision was for a hyper-clean design aesthetic to accentuate the “magnificent views throughout the space.”

Researching best practices for modern workspaces, he hit on the idea of an open “hive” approach leading to better communication and collaboration.

“The all-white interior is intended to be a clean canvas from which our creative ideas flow, and to hint at the ‘stimulus lab’ position we embrace,” he said. Thus the 2014 name change from Concussion to PAVLOV, referencing the stimulus-response experiments of Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov with dogs that provided a foundation for behavioral science. A blown-up photograph of a dog greets visitors from behind the front desk to further cement the connection.

Transwestern helped with construction management and coordination of the new space. Amanda Clark of CMA-Fort Worth helped with space planning and interior design and Dennett Construction built the interior office space.

While many corporations would have saved the best views in the office for top management, PAVLOV took a different approach.

“I once heard a line from an old TV show on how to manage creatives by ‘feeding them cotton candy and champagne.’” Wallach said. “Instead of feeding our creatives cotton candy and champagne, I chose to give them the best view in the house.”

Anyone coming in for a meeting with PAVLOV is also treated to the great view of the big five-way intersection and the surrounding area. And both large and small conference rooms provide wide open views of West Fort Worth.

Also in the main room is a structure that looks like a space-age phone booth. And that’s just what it is. It’s a soundproof phone booth from a Finnish company called Framery, giving workers a place for private conversations or small conferences.

“Our space age phone booth looks like something out of The Jetsons,” said Wallach. “It’s one of the first to be installed in Texas. Their clients include some of the world’s leading brands, including Uber, Microsoft, SAP, Deloitte and PWC –– and PAVLOV,” he said proudly.

The new office comes just as the agency has added five new professionals in its account service, creative, digital and public relations/social media departments. PAVLOV has also added several new clients including St. Louis Metro Transit, FranFund, MedStar, Matrix Resources, North Dallas Bank & Trust and Texas Christian University Basketball.

But Wallach sees no real changes to PAVLOV. “[W]e are sharpening our focus as a ‘tradigital’ agency – one that is equally proficient in traditional advertising and marketing services as the new and emerging digital offerings”

Fort Worth advertising agencies are reaping the benefits of the city’s growth, Wallach said. “Overall, I think we are all recruiting better and better talent. The creative class is discovering Fort Worth and bringing unique skills to the table.”

In The News

A New Lease on Life

By Sandra Baker
Fort Worth Star-Telegram

FORT WORTH – Margaret Bunten recalls the times as a small child when her mother, Evelyn O’Hara, would bring her to the second floor window of the art-deco Kress Building to watch parades along Houston Street.

Continental National Bank didn’t mind them using its office to take in the view. O’Hara owned the building.

“I remember all the large computers that were here,” said Bunten, whose mother bought the building in 1973.

The building’s upper floors have sat vacant for two decades, but now its new owners—Bunten, brother Phillip O’Hara and sister Evelyn O’Hara—are converting the second, third and fourth floors into 24 luxury loft apartments.

Bunten said that a few years ago, her brother began looking into reusing the space and put together a business plan. The siblings agreed that it was time to put the entire building back into use, she said.

“We all want it to be productive and to stop the decay,” Bunten said. “Rather than turn the space back into offices, he urged us to consider the residential use.”

Hibernia National Bank is financing the $3.6 million project.

The 48,000-square-foot building was constructed in 1936 by the New York dry goods chain S.H. Kress Co., which used the upper floors for offices and storage. It was one of a few private buildings constructed during the Depression, according to historical records.

Kress left the building in 1960. Continental National Bank used the three top floors for offices for about a decade until the early 1980s.

The street level, with a suspended 24-foot ceiling, has had a series of tenants. The Fox and Hound English Pub & Grille has operated there since 2001. Hyena’s Comedy Club, which became a tenant in 1993, and its adjacent dance club occupy the basement.

The Kress Building is among several downtown office structures being renovated for residential use, including the Neil P. Anderson Building on West Seventh Street.

Several years ago, a downtown-market study showed great demand for residential units for lease and ownership. The market has responded with a slew of apartment and condominium projects. But there is still room for the Kress Building Lofts, Bunten said.

“Downtown is in high demand,” Bunten said. “I’ve already had a lot of interest.”

Andy Taft, president of Downtown Fort Worth, Inc., said he applauds the Kress owners for taking on the challenge of renovating the nearly 70-year-old building, which he called a great addition in the core of downtown.

“Every little bit helps,” Taft said. “There’s an important role that smaller buildings play in the downtown residential mix. High rises aren’t for everyone. It is a wonderful adaptive reuse of an historic building.”

Eight apartments are planned for each floor, and the building should be completed for occupancy by April, Bunten said.

The building is between Houston and Main streets and has a southern façade of solid brick. Large windows for each unit will be cut into the 18-inch-thick wall.

The owners are trying to get the building on the National Register of Historic Places, which would make it eligible for federal tax credits. As a result, the windows are subject to approval by the National Park Service to ensure the building’s historical and architectural integrity, said the project’s architect, Raymond O’Connor.

The review is under way, but Bunten said she expects the windows to be installed within the next couple of months. The apartments will be about 800 to 1,100 square feet. Rents will begin at about 1,600 a month.

Each unit will have washer and dryer connections, and residents will have a private entrance on the Main Street side of the building.

The building’s roof will also eventually have amenities such as a park like area and possibly a spa, she said.

Bunten said she plans to begin pre-leasing the units in January.

Scott Dennett Construction in Fort Worth began the renovations in April, although, Phillip O’Hara had been working on and off the past couple of years to gut the three floors, Bunten said.

Scott Dennett, owner of Scott Dennett Construction, who has a great deal of experience working on historic buildings, said the work is challenging but rewarding.

Because original architectural plans have not been found, workers often uncover surprises, including two chimneys. One led to a boiler room in a subbasement, Dennett said.

Another discovery, in May, was about 3,000 Mexican free tailed bats living in the building. About 1,200 were moved to a bat sanctuary in Mineral Wells.

“All the historical projects are fun to work on,” Dennett said. “We really take pride in the work we do. These are projects that will be seen by a lot of people.

Bunten is the project’s general manager, having quite her job as a paramedic in April.

Read more here.