Henderson Engineers Inc., a national design firm with a long history in Northwest Arkansas, has officially opened its relocated Bentonville office.
The Lenexa, Kan.-based company signed a seven-year lease agreement earlier this year for the first floor of the six-story 8W Center at 805 S. Walton Blvd. The firm’s previous office in the city was just off Moberly Lane.
8W Center’s 12,818-square-foot ground-floor space was home to multiple restaurants, including Einstein Brothers Bagels, Tropical Smoothie Café, and Jimmy John’s sandwich shop. They did not successfully re-open after closing in 2020 during the pandemic.
Henderson also plans to utilize part of the building’s outdoor patio area along Walton Boulevard.
Henderson’s new office is across the street from its most significant client — Walmart Inc. The firm has completed thousands of new store, redesign and prototype projects for the retailer in the U.S. and internationally.
Henderson opened a Bentonville office in 2003 with two employees. There are now approximately 40 in Northwest Arkansas. The Bentonville office was the firm’s second company office. There are now 12 across the U.S.
“The history of Henderson Engineers and Walmart is intertwined,” said Rich Smith, the company’s president emeritus. “If you go back and look at our company, we had five employees in 1988, and now we have over 1,000. A lot of that growth was based on our relationship with Walmart.”
Smith joined the company in 1994 and had been the company’s president and CEO since 2013, assuming an emeritus position earlier this year. The company appointed Kevin Lewis, an employee since 2004, to the top leadership role in January. He is the fourth president/CEO in the firm’s 52-year history.
The two company leaders were in Bentonville for a commemorative ribbon cutting at the new office Wednesday (Oct. 19), sponsored by the Greater Bentonville Area Chamber of Commerce and Rogers-Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce.
“As we approach our 20th anniversary in Arkansas, this move reinforces our commitment to Bentonville and clients across the state who entrust our experts with delivering great projects,” Lewis said. “We’re also eager to continue to tap into the solid talent in the region, which continues to establish itself as a center for innovation, technology, and entrepreneurship.”
Henderson’s Bentonville office is overseen by JD Elder, a practice manager who serves as the regional office leader. Additional oversight is provided by managing principals Arron Cooper and Mike Fall.
“The business community in Northwest Arkansas welcomed us with open arms nearly two decades ago, and we’re thankful for the continued success we’ve enjoyed statewide,” said Cooper, a 26-year Henderson veteran and co-founder of the original Bentonville office. “The pandemic showed that we can successfully operate our business without being on-site every day, so we embrace hybrid and remote work throughout our company. The new space gives employees a vibrant environment to work together and be creative when they come into the office, and we’re excited to be settling in.”
Lewis said the company’s investment in Bentonville doesn’t necessarily indicate a not-so-subtle “return to office” edict for employees.
“I’m going to talk out of both sides of my mouth,” he joked. “In our industry, what we do is kind of a team sport. I think we are better [working] together. With that said, we have proven we can do that togetherness via Zoom or in person. Flexibility is the key at Henderson Engineers. We are going to lean into that a lot. Yes, we have a physical office. Yes, JD and his team create enthusiasm and engagement by being in person at this office. But we’ve also been able to source some good people throughout the nation who benefit all of us. We will continue to rely on that.”
Henderson officials did not disclose the Bentonville office renovation investment. The company projects gross revenues in 2022 of approximately $180 million.
Henderson’s resume includes projects for other notable Arkansas-based businesses and institutions, such as the University of Arkansas, Ozark Beer Co., Sam’s Club and Tyson Foods. Quilt of Parks, Alice L. Walton School of Medicine, Roller Ambulatory Surgery Center and J.B. and Johnelle Hunt Family Children’s Safety Center of Washington County are other Henderson projects in the pipeline in the region.
Henderson’s Bentonville office relocation and the leadership transition are two of the firm’s organizational milestones this year. In 2022, Henderson Companies, the parent company of Henderson Engineers and its sister company Henderson Building Solutions, also became 100% employee-owned after launching an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). The ESOP enables all eligible Henderson Engineers and Henderson Building Solutions employees to own beneficial shares without investing any of their own funds.