Transforms ‘shell’ into sustainable showcase
By Mike Bambach & Emily Ditomasso
Lance Milton remembers the first time he saw the future home of Nikola Corporation in Phoenix after moving from Salt Lake City, Utah. “There was just a shell, the interior was not built at all,” said Milton, the company’s facilities manager. “We came in and added the third level.” And a whole lot more.
Today, Nikola’s approximately $30 million research and development facility at 4141 E. Broadway Road is a showcase for the hydrogen-electric truck company’s vehicles and more. It features 28-foot ceilings, industrial-sized 3D printers, 3 milling machines, 33 meeting rooms and one of the company’s hydrogen-fueling stations. Nikola plans to build 700 more fueling stations across the U.S. and Canada by 2028.
From shell to showcase
The company, named for the great inventor Nikola Tesla, is also home to nearly 300 employees who practice sustainability everyday in the state-of-the-art, three-story, 150,000-square-foot facility.
They hold a lot of power over the building in the palm of their hands thanks to the Comfy app. It allows employees to help save energy by controlling the building’s environment, including lighting and temperature.
The app also includes a feature that allows employees to find other employees because they work in a fluid environment. The building’s sensors have the ability to read how many people are in a room and determine the optimum temperature.
For example, if only one person is in the room, it will automatically be warmer than if there was a group of people in the room.
The sensors that come with the app also control exterior lighting. So when the sun shines bright into the windows, shades will automatically come down and the building lights will dim.
Inside the Nikola building, visitors and future investors can find differently structured rooms, LED lighting, and limited volatile organic compounds (VOC) — no VOC wall paint, low VOC metal paint and low VOC carpeting. They chose HÅG Futu chairs, one of the most environmentally friendly chairs, because 96% of the materials are recyclable.
Merger fuels Nikola’s drive
Nikola Corporation accelerated its transformation in March, announcing a merger with VectoIQ Acquisition Corp. The company will be known as Nikola Corp. and
trade on the Nasdaq (NKLA). The merged company will be valued at $3.3 billion, according to electrive.com. The merger will help speed the production of Nikola’s
zero-emission-commercial vehicles. Nikola plans to break ground this year on a 1 million square-foot manufacturing plant in Coolidge, southeast of Phoenix in Pinal County, that will create 2,000 jobs.
Nikola plans to start production of its semi-trucks in 2021. They will have 14,000 vehicles on the road by 2028. “Our optimism has been shared by the investor community and we have been able to raise one of the largest private investments in public equity to date,” Steve Girsky, CEO of VectoIQ said in a conference call. Trevor Milton, CEO and founder of Nikola, said he is excited to partner with VectoIQ to continue to the next chapter of growth for Nikola.
“I am ready for the next 20 years of growth and with our oversubscribed funding, the market is as well,” he said.
The company has a 24/7 gym that is employee designed and is every involving to meet employees’ needs.
Future plans for Nikola
“We are forward-engineering (employees) so that when something becomes available, we can just plug and play,” Milton said. “We want to do the same thing with the building, anything that becomes available, that comes down the pipeline, that is what we want to do.”
There’s more on the way. Nikola plans to construct a cafe with locally sourced foods, along with adding solar panels to the roof to provide clean power to the building.
They have defined their brand in three different areas: simple, eco-conscious and innovative. That really speaks for what their brand stands for, externally and internally.
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Mike Bambach has been a journalist for 40 years, working as an award-winning editor for local and national publications, including USA Today and CBS Interactive. Most recently, he was managing editor for ASU Thrive magazine.
Emily DiTomasso is a senior at Arizona State University, studying journalism. After graduation, she will work towards finding a writing or photography job. In her free time, she likes to watch movies, read, bake, and spend time with her friends, family and her dog, Toby.