From the Desk of Kevin Lewis: November 2022

Fall is one of my favorite times of the year. I love the cooler weather, having established routines with kids back in school, and it’s a fantastic time for sports. From college football and basketball to the NFL, NBA, and volleyball (a nod to my daughter in high school), there’s a lot for fans to cheer for. As the previous director of Henderson’s venue and sports practice, and a former Division I athlete myself, sports are near and dear to me, so I enjoy trying to take in as many games as possible. Fall is also a historically busy time of the year at Henderson as we wrap up the year and move to annual business planning for the year ahead. This is when we take a step back from the day-to-day to think about how we can grow and improve in the year ahead – which at Henderson means a heavy focus on delivering an even better client experience.


Business planning is a key part of our success at Henderson as it aligns the firm around the execution of our strategic plan and goals. As we’ve shared before, our goal is to provide the best client experience in the industry. Our 2023 business planning is centered around how we can continue to help YOU – our clients and partners – succeed. One way we do this is by working to understand the pain points and business challenges you face so we can help. We believe that when you succeed, we do too. It’s really that simple. If you have a business challenge keeping you up at night, please reach out, we want to help.


We also use our business planning process to align the company around industry trends we’re seeing across our vertical market sectors. As we look to 2023, below are a few areas within each of our sectors that we see the potential for significant growth:

Business Sector (Core & Shell, Mission Critical, Mixed Use, Warehouse, Workplace)

  • Workplace: The way people work has changed leading employers to reimagine their work environments to incorporate “home-like” amenities that attract employees back to the office.
  • Warehouse: Warehouse growth is nationwide as consumers have changed their shopping habits. From grocery cold-storage facilities to micro-fulfillment centers to giant robotic distribution centers for major retailers, today’s warehouses are high-tech, climate controlled, and anything but a simple box. Controlled environment agriculture (CEA), an advanced and intensive form of hydroponic agriculture where plants grow within a controlled environment, is a growing industry for warehouse environments as a sustainable farming alternative.
  • Mission Critical: Mission Critical facilities have also been on the rise as more data centers and public safety centers are required to ensure the “always on” services we depend on stay up and running, safely and efficiently.

Community Sector (Civic, Culture, Higher Ed, K-12, Recreation, Science & Technology)

  • School Security: School safety remains a top priority for K-12 school districts and Higher Ed campuses across the country as gun violence has increased post-pandemic.
  • Federal Funding: Many schools continue to deal with aging infrastructure, or lack of systems like AC/HVAC completely, to optimize the learning environment. We’re helping clients take advantage of the $1 trillion Infrastructure Build Back Better Bill, which includes $450M earmarked for K-12.
  • Indoor Air Quality: Indoor Air Quality (IAQ), which became a hot topic in schools during COVID-19 due to virus reduction, is now top of mind for more parents. Studies have shown kids perform better in healthy buildings, which include healthy indoor air so more schools at looking at better filtration and ventilation. CO detection systems, or CO alarms, is also something that can be incorporated to keep learning environments free from hazardous gases. An increased focus on clean energy is leading many clients/owners to move away from gas-fired equipment, which can contribute to CO gas.

Health Sector (Behavioral Health, Hospital, Infrastructure, MOB, Medtail, Senior Living)

  • Hospitals: Many parts of the US are still looking to add patient beds to hospitals or upgrade antiquated facilities as they continue dealing with an ongoing patient surge from the pandemic. We’ve seen prefab/modular design help streamline new construction or renovation projects.
  • Medtail: This remains a hot market as patients demand more convenient access to healthcare. Medtail clinics are popping up everywhere as major retailers, insurance companies, and health systems all investigate how to provide patient care in more personalized settings. Walmart, CVS, and Blue Cross & Blue Shield are a few companies making a name for themselves in this space.
  • Senior Living: Our aging population is driving the need for more senior living facilities, but these aren’t the nursing homes of the past. With an emphasis on extended life instead of end-of-life, today’s seniors want more of a mixed-use, residential destination; Florida, Texas, and Arizona are the hottest markets for this growth.
  • Sustainability/Carbon: Health systems are notorious energy hogs, and consumers are demanding accountability, making sustainability and resiliency new buzz words in this industry. The good news – most health systems are starting to talk/look at environmental stewardship. From facility audits to carbon use calculations, we’re helping clients reduce their footprint.

Retail Sector (Automotive, General Merchandise, Grocery, Luxury, Restaurant, Specialty)

  • Adaptive Reuse: The future of retail is tied to the pandemic recovery. We expect to continue to see an over-abundance of physical retail space for the foreseeable future. However, this creates an opportunity for creative re-use of those spaces as we’ve seen happening more and more.
  • New Delivery Methods: We expect many retailers to remodel existing spaces to adapt product delivery methods for in-store pickup, curbside pickup, and other omnichannel delivery methods. Micro-fulfillment and cold storage is a trend we don’t seen waning anytime soon with the increased demand for delivery/pick-up.
  • Sustainable Refrigerants: We’re helping major retailers transition outdated refrigerants used in fleets of stores nationwide to more sustainable natural refrigerants like CO2. We’re helping lead the industry in the transition to CO2based commercial refrigeration systems that significantly reduce GHG emissions and global warming potential (GWP).
  • Carbon Reduction: More customers than ever are also supporting retailers with a sustainability commitment to be carbon neutral. Our detailed report shows retailers how and where they can reduce energy consumption and their overall impact on global warming.
  • Omnichannel Experience: We see an increase in experiential spaces and flagship stores to create strong connections to customers that transcend into online transactions. Today’s consumers expect a seamless experience whether shopping from home or in a store.
  • Restaurants: This space was hit hard by the pandemic but is starting to come back with a twist – new dedicated kitchen areas for delivery/take out and/or curbside pick-up areas to support customer demand for food delivery and pick-up versus in-restaurant dining.

Venue Sector (Aviation, Convention Center, Entertainment, Fitness, Sports)

  • Aviation: Aviation projects also have continued to pick up after stalling during the pandemic. Technology, security, and sustainability are all driving design decisions and new projects incorporate touchless interactions, increased security, and even sustainable central plants.
  • Immersive Fan Districts: Convention centers and entertainment facilities are also coming back, many within new entertainment districts. Many pro sports teams are designing facilities within these districts that incorporate live entertainment, restaurants, shopping, and more to provide an immersive fan experience. Our extensive lease knowledge is helpful with tenant success.
  • Esports: Esports continues to be a growing industry, with many colleges and universities utilizing recreational esport spaces as a social space or “campus living room” for students. With the rise in esports popularity, more colleges are looking at developing academic curriculum to support it.
  • Infrastructure: Aging infrastructure continues to impact venue facilities across the country who also have experienced an exodus of experienced staff. Commissioning, elevator modernization, and energy/carbon audits are a few of the top services clients are requesting.


Finally, I wanted to share a quick update about a couple other key initiatives we’ve been working on:

  • DE&I Summit: We recently wrapped up our first-ever DE&I (diversity, equity, and inclusion) Summit with 50+ employees from across the country. This two-day event was held to provide employees who have shown a passion for leading DE&I with a space to talk through Henderson’s efforts so far and what we wanted to accomplish collectively moving forward. Personally, I was inspired by the passion in the room.
  • CEO to CEO Tour: Throughout 2022, myself and Rich Smith, our President Emeritus, have been visiting each of our 12 office locations to meet in smaller groups with employees and get a pulse on what’s happening across the nation. In addition to visiting employees in our offices, we’ve been meeting with remote employees via Zoom as a part of the CEO to CEO Tour. Spending this time with our employees has been a travel-heavy undertaking, but it’s also been one of my favorite experiences from my first year as Henderson’s CEO.
  • New Bentonville Office: Our team in Bentonville recently celebrated a ribbon cutting for their new downtown office. I can’t think of a better client experience than the 30+ year relationship we’ve had with Walmart. Our team in Bentonville exemplifies what it means to go the extra mile to make our client’s lives easier.
  • New Faces: We’ve also continued to strengthen and diversify our offerings and expertise with additional talent. We’re pleased to welcome Rhett Belser, Safety Director, and Earl Wilcox, Mission Critical General Manager, to the Henderson Building Solutions team. Rhett and Earl bring a combined 50+ years of experience to our team and are proud to have them on board.
  • MEP 2040 Signatory: As referenced by the industry trends above, sustainability and regenerative design is a big focus as we head into 2023. We have an opportunity to drive positive impact through the spaces we help bring to life and that’s not something we take lightly. That’s why Henderson recently became a signatory of the MEP 2040 Challenge, a commitment among firms that provide MEP (mechanical, electrical, and plumbing related design services) to achieve net zero carbon on their projects by 2040. We also announced our own 2024 climate pledge in April 2022 stating that “Henderson will be net zero carbon across our business by 2040.” You can read more about those efforts by clicking here to read an update from Henderson’s sustainability director, Brian Alessi.

Thank you for your continued trust in Henderson over this past year. I’m excited about how we can work together to build a better world in 2023.

Written By

President & CEO | Principal


Recent Insights

Takeaways and Insights from the 2023 Lab Design Conference

Danny McGrail, community sector science and technology practice director, recently represented Henderson at the 2023 Lab Design Conference. There were roughly 300 owners, architects, lab planners, engineers, contractors, and product reps in attendance. Danny returned ...

Read More

Digital Built Week Americas 2023

Starting June 15 we will be in Dallas for Digital Built Week Americas 2023. Team Henderson is excited to dive into what leaders have to say about the latest digital tools, techniques, technologies, and how ...

Read More


Join our email list to get the latest design innovations, technical content, new projects, and research from Henderson’s experts delivered straight to your inbox.