Looking Back: Paving the Way into the Automotive Manufacturing Market


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The journey of T.W. Frierson entering the automotive manufacturing market began with perseverance and determination. Harold Baker, retired Sr. Vice President, spent several years courting Nissan North America, aiming to establish a foothold in this competitive sector. Our breakthrough came in 1993 when Nissan invited us to submit a design build proposal on a 33,000 square foot logistics center in Smyrna. Dean Taylor, TWF past president, had the fortunate opportunity to compile the bid package, and upon winning the contract, he managed the project from start to finish alongside our Superintendent, Terry Whittemore. This project ignited a 30-year relationship with one of our longest tenured Clients. 

As the logistics center neared completion, Nissan released another Design-Build bid package for a car wash facility. Once again, Dean Taylor assembled the bid and managed the project alongside Micheal Massey, our current Vice President of Field Operations, leading to a successful outcome. Although there were several unexpected issues that arose, our team’s performance earned significant respect from Nissan by going above and beyond in addressing them. One notable instance was when we realized our initial design needed enhancement for optimal performance. Though the project was already underway, we willingly embarked on a re-engineering and redesign of the tanks. This proactive step not only resolved several issues but also significantly enhanced the project’s output. Despite incurring an additional cost that impacted our profit margin, this project reinforced our growing reputation as an industrial contractor and solidified our partnership.

During the construction of the car wash, Nissan issued a third bid package for a die storage shed within the Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ). This marked our first venture inside the facility, and our first mid-project demobilization due to a potential interference with an upcoming stamping addition. After resuming and completing the job, we were later contracted to dismantle the structure, demonstrating our versatility and commitment to meeting Nissan’s evolving needs.

Our first major pit job inside the plant took place during a Christmas shutdown, and required a very tight demobilization schedule.  With retired Sr. Superintendent Tommy Manley leading the way, we successfully completed the project, setting a new standard for excellence and further cemented our status as Nissan’s go-to contractor. From that point forward, T.W. Frierson became a fixture within the plant, handling a variety of construction and deconstruction projects, including pits, bathrooms, and dock additions. 

Since this initial endeavor, Nissan has been a valued client and partner, with rarely a year passing without T.W. Frierson completing a project on their Smyrna, Decherd, and Canton campuses. Over the past 30 years, we have completed over 200 projects for Nissan, solidifying our reputation as a trusted and reliable construction partner. This history of dedication and reliability laid the foundation for T.W. Frierson’s enduring presence in the automotive manufacturing market, making us a preferred partner for Nissan and beyond.

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