back to top

Moving Day Arrives for Virginia Trane

Virginia Trane’s new 23,000 square foot building.

by Valerie Garner

On a tour of the freshly completed Trane building Tuesday, Virginia District Manager David Pierson was busy with last minute details. The move into the new building will begin this week and the building is expected to be fully operational by the end of January.

The new 23,000 square foot building sits on property owned by Jess Newbern, III the principal of Newbern Properties, LLC. The building has a spectacular view of the Valley from the second floor corner room that will be used for customer presentations.

Newbern-Trane began as a franchise in the mid-1970s. Through the years Newbern has expanded the 1870’s farmhouse that sits on the corner of Frontage Road and Highland Farm Road to accommodate his growing business. The historic home is easily visible from I-581 approaching the Hershberger Road exit.

He eventually sold the franchise to the Trane Corporation in 2000 who combined it with Virginia Trane in Richmond. American Standard purchased the firm in the 1980s and Ingersoll Rand bought it in May of 2008.

Newbern himself proudly led an exclusive tour through the building even pointing out the lactating room for young mothers. Belinda Church, Mr. Pierson’s executive assistant and Training Coordinator said there were currently two women who would use it.

Newbern had a hand in designing the building that boasts photovoltaic solar panels that convert direct sunlight into electricity. Roanoke’s Ray Craighead was the architect.

Jason Bingham, former Roanoke City School Board member, is Vice President for Trane North America’s Central Territory. He explained how “the power of this organization is its culture. When you get a culture that is this strong [the staff] fights for it  … It’s self-propelled – it’s that flywheel concept.”  Bingham’s mission is to take this culture to the 14 states in his territory.

“[Virginia Trane] is number one against many of the [Trane] businesses of other major cities outside of Virginia.” Three of the five leaders in the Trane North America organization are located in Virginia. “It shows that they know how to train leaders,” Bingham said.

The guiding principles and mission originated in Roanoke with Jess Newbern. “He’s always there and keeps tabs on it,” said Bingham. “He’s really good at leading you to where you need to be and making you think it’s your idea,” chuckled Church.

Bingham travels about two days a week. His office is in his home and he was adamant about never leaving Roanoke. With a wide grin, Bingham said his wife told him that he “could move if I wanted to and could come back and visit [her] anytime.”

He’d like to rejoin the school board some day when his travel schedule becomes more stable.

Bingham estimated the number of employees in Roanoke at 75 with an expectation that five more will be hired soon. The Trane Corporation has plants in Wisconsin, Colorado, Tennessee, Kentucky, Florida, Georgia and Minnesota.

Other divisions under the Ingersoll Rand umbrella include air compressors and commercial / residential building security. The Schlage division makes doorknobs for homes, home automation systems, air power tools and to a lesser degree industrial refrigeration. “We have factories all over the globe,” said Bingham. There is some manufacturing in Mexico but most products are manufactured in the United States.

The new building will mostly house office space and serve the commercial side of Trane while the older Trane building will serve as a distribution center and warehouse for residential equipment and parts.  The buildings sit adjacent to the former second fairway of the city-owned Countryside Golf Course. Ironically, a golf cart by Club Car sat in the service garage of the new building. Club Car is another division of Ingersoll Rand.

The service garage also housed a large Trane heating and cooling system that will serve to “show off the type of equipment they represent,” said Newbern. Tommy Lawhorn sat next to the system at a computer that controlled the building’s temperature, humidity, lights and alarm system. The entire building is computer controlled.

After the move, the old farmhouse will be vacant and the building that houses Newbern’s office will become a training/learning classroom for employees. Newbern said he would be interested in the adjacent city-owned golf course property if the storm water issues could be resolved.

Latest Articles

- Advertisement -

Latest Articles

- Advertisement -

Related Articles