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“When developers built a new 1,790-square foot Starbucks store in New Berlin, Wisconsin, they wanted to get a hot cup of coffee into customers’ hands as quickly as possible. And, since this Starbucks was going to be located on what is one of the busiest intersections in the state, they wanted a facility that would make a real design statement.

“We are always under pressure from tenants who have signed leases and are waiting to locate in a property we are developing,” said Jimmy Rosen from Somerstone. “This building was up and enclosed in just a week—shortening delivery time by two to three months. This means we could begin collecting tenant rents much sooner. The result is that our internal rate of return on that development was much higher.”

It’s an understatement to say the project went up quickly. Crews started on a Monday and had the building exterior shell 80 percent complete by that afternoon. By Friday of the same week, they had a complete building—including the Nichiha panels—fully installed.

Fullerton Building Systems provided the structure and the exterior finishes; they pre-fabricated the interior and exterior walls, panelized the wood frame and roof trusses in their factory, and then shipped and erected the structure on site. They pre-attached all exterior finishes except for the Nichiha panels, which were field-installed. “At the time, we hadn’t yet used the Nichiha product, and just wanted to be cautious,” said Gary Parshall, national account sales with Fullerton Building Systems. “But since we completed this job, we’ve used Nichiha panels on a number of other projects.”

Providing a unique design aesthetic was another benefit of using the Nichiha panels. As of mid-2015, Starbucks had nearly 23,000 stores in 67 countries. According to the Starbucks website, “We believe a coffeehouse should be a welcoming, inviting and familiar place for people to connect, so we design our stores to reflect the unique character of the neighborhoods they serve.”

The distinctive design of this project in New Berlin helps it really stand out, thanks to the exterior finish package, which featured Nichiha VintageWood Architectural Wall Panels in a Cedar finish. The VintageWood panels blend well with the other exterior finishes, which included cultured stone, EIFS (exterior insulation and finishing system) and a metallic anodized panel on the rounded portion of the structure. The resulting combination gives this Starbucks store a sleek, unique exterior aesthetic.

Steve Nikolas, president of Zabest Commercial Group, Inc., and general contractor for the project, said Starbucks had some influence in terms of choosing the Nichiha product for this project; “they have used it on other nearby buildings.”

Fullerton Building Systems has built about a dozen stores for Starbucks, and each one is different, said Parshall. They are increasingly using Nichiha panels to distinguish each store. “In fact, we’ve got another project that had a metal product specified, and we just switched over to use Nichiha panels,” he added.

A number of developers have turned to Nichiha’s VintageWood Series as an alternative for wood or reclaimed synthetic wood exterior products that have experienced durability challenges. Nichiha’s 15-year warranty provides extra assurance.

Fullerton’s installers used 132 Nichiha panels—about 2,000 square feet—along with 108 lineal feet of corner pieces for the New Berlin store. “The corners really make a difference; they look nice,” said Nikolas. “And while you don’t see it, the drainage system is also pretty clever; it’s a good system to handle moisture,” he said, referencing Nichiha’s proprietary rainscreen system.

Nikolas added, “As far as durability and looks, Nichiha is ideal for a commercial application. The panels provide the perfect complement to wood, but they solve all the challenges of using wood. This was the first time we’ve used it and we absolutely will continue using the Nichiha panels. Speaking as a contractor and a developer, it’s a wonderful material.”

Nichiha is looking forward to partnering on more Starbucks locations in the future. Have you spotted Nichiha on your local Starbucks? If so, let us know where in the comments section below. Also, feel free to post any questions about this project or any of our National Brand partnerships. I would love to discuss with you further!” -Russo, Michael


Russo, Michael. “Nichiha Provides Unique Design Aesthetic for New Starbucks Store.” Nichiha USA, Inc. – Fiber Cement Building Products. Nichiha USA, 26 Sept. 2016. Web. 13 Apr. 2017.
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