Marco’s Pizza outlines national growth plans

Marco’s Pizza is closing in on opening its 1,000th unit in its quest to move from sixth to fourth on the list of the country’s biggest pizza chains. The Ohio-based chain has 965 restaurants in 34 states and plans call for expansion in both new and existing markets. Read the Nation’s Restaurant News story here

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Costco kicks off summer with store opening plans

Costco will open five new US stores this summer, as well as one each in Australia and Japan, following strong sales growth during the pandemic that has continued into this year. The retailer operates more than 800 global locations, including 559 in the US and Puerto Rico, and plans call for adding 20 more this year. Read the Business Insider story here

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Freddy’s new format focuses on takeout

Quickserve burger chain Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers has begun construction on a new store format designed to serve customers taking their food to-go. The new Salina, Kansas unit will feature a double drive-thru, a walk-up window, patio seating and spaces for curbside pickup, but will not have an indoor dining room. Read the Nation’s Restaurant News story here

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Lidl, ALDI pushing ahead with US growth plans

Lidl and ALDI are continuing their robust US growth, with Lidl launching three new locations in Georgia, Maryland and New Jersey. ALDI, meanwhile, has started hiring people for four stores planned in the New Orleans metro area in its ongoing expansion into the Gulf Coast region. Read The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate story here

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Plaza Construction 15th annual Golf Invitational

Plaza Construction, one of the nation’s foremost full-service construction management and general contracting firms, hosted its 15th annual charity Golf Invitational on Monday, May 24 at the historic La Gorce Country Club in Miami Beach. The participation of more than 100 golfers and volunteers helped raise roughly $175,000 for the Voices For Children Foundation, Inc., which advocates for the support and protection of abused, abandoned and neglected children in Miami-Dade County.

The tournament was followed by a cocktail hour and awards ceremony, where participants listened to remarks from Brad Meltzer, chairman and CEO of Plaza Construction, and Nelson Hincapie, CEO of Voices for Children.

“Plaza has been supporting Voices for Children since 2015, but this year is extra special because it was a challenging year for a lot of people, and yet we still managed to raise a significant amount to further the goals of this amazing organization,” said Meltzer. “We hope the money raised this year, in the middle of a pandemic, will make an even bigger impact on the lives of these children in our community.”

The event is a continuation of Plaza’s efforts to support the local community during these difficult times. Partners, subcontractors and Plaza volunteers came together for a day of fun on the links and a little competition, all of which supported a meaningful cause.

About Plaza Construction

Plaza Construction is one of the nation’s foremost construction management firms providing clients with a full spectrum of expertise in construction management and support, general contracting, program management, design/build, and consulting services. With headquarters in New York and regional offices in Miami, New Jersey, Washington D.C., Tampa, Orlando, San Jose, and Los Angeles, Plaza Construction, has for more than 34 years, provided construction services for a multitude of commercial and residential properties, retail venues, cultural establishments, government projects, educational institutions, health care facilities, and hotels. Leading at the forefront of the construction industry, Plaza Construction is heavily invested in programs supporting workplace safety and employee and supplier diversity. In addition, with more than $4 billion in sustainable projects representing every LEED level of achievement, the firm also prioritizes sustainability and innovation in construction materials and management. The company is also well known for its philanthropic endeavors, supporting strides in medical research, cultural, and educational opportunities. Plaza is committed to the highest level of corporate ethics and values. Learn more:

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//3877 Welcomes Bryan Wingold to the Firm

//3877—the first B Corp-certified Washington, D.C. based architecture and interior design firm. Co-founders and principals, David Shove-Brown and David Tracz are thrilled to welcome a highly sought after industry professional, Bryan Wingold, to //3877 as the Director of Black + Green Ops.

Bryan brings over 26 years of industry experience to the team with roles ranging from design and construction to project management and business development. His background as a designer and project manager has given him a competitive edge and keen key for helping clients identify the right  solution for various project types including corporate, aviation, healthcare, and of course, hospitality.  Bryan previously worked with Apple Hospitality REIT, Baskervill, Gresham, Smith and Partners, as well as SMBW.

No stranger to //3877, Bryan says, “I enjoyed working with their team in the role of a client. Getting to know them during that process gave me a window into what the culture of the firm was like. They are kind, thoughtful, creative problem solvers, and overall just really fun people. I could not think of a better place to start the next chapter in my career.”

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  • studied the average cost to renovate a kitchen in 15 countries, as well as each nation’s renovation cost as a percentage of annual income
  • Denmark was revealed as the most expensive country to improve the kitchen, where the average cost is USD$42,993 representing around 84% of the average annual income
  • Hong Kong is the most affordable country, costing an average of $3,747 and only 13% of the average annual income

New data from Compare the Market reveals the countries where it is most affordable to renovate a kitchen by looking at the average cost of the renovation as well as the cost as a percentage of average annual income in 15 countries.

The results reveal it is most affordable to renovate a kitchen in Hong Kong, where the typical spend is USD$3,747[i] or 13% of the average annual income.[ii]

Portugal came in a close second, costing $4,074[iii] for an average kitchen makeover. When compared to income, Portugal falls a little further behind at almost 24% of a typical salary.[iv]

Singapore, France and Ireland performed slightly better in this area, where cost ratios were all less that of Portugal due to higher average salaries in each country.

The worst performing nation of those analysed is Denmark, where kitchen renovation costs represent the highest percentage of annual income (84%)[v] as well as highest isolated cost ($42,993).[vi]

Following Denmark as the least affordable nation by dollar amount is Switzerland ($35,430),[vii] the USA ($25,000),[viii] New Zealand ($21,450)[ix] and Australia ($18,437).[x]

When it comes to the cost-per-income ratio, Canada and Germany take out second and third place for most expensive (46%[xi] and 44%[xii] respectively), followed by Switzerland (41%)[xiii] and the US (36%).[xiv]

To find the full list of countries and the average cost of a kitchen renovation in each, please visit: 

About is a comparison service that takes the hard work out of shopping around. We make it Simples for Australians to quickly and easily compare and buy insurance, energy, travel and personal finance products from a wide range of providers. Our easy-to-use comparison tool enables consumers to find products that best suit their needs and back pocket.

[i] Archiparti – Hong Kong Home Renovation Costs: Complete Breakdown 2020:

[ii] Censsus and Statistics Department – Wages and Labor Earnings:

[iii] Idealista – How much does it cost to remodel a kitchen? A step-by-step guide to home improvements in Portugal:

[iv] Instituto Nacional de Estatístic – Gross monthly earnings per employee have increased by 3.0% in the 3rd quarter of 2019, to €1,220:

[v] Statistics Denmark – The average Dane:

[vi] Houzz – 2017 Global Houzz Kitchen Trends Study:

[vii] Cardis Sotheby’s International Realty – How to succeed in your renovations?:

[viii] Houzz – Kitchen Remodel Cost:

[ix] Data taken from Refresh Renovations: ( and (

[x] Housing Industry Association – Kitchens and Bathrooms Report: Past Growth and Future Prospects 2018/19:

[xi] Statistics Canada – Income of individuals by age group, sex and income source, Canada, provinces and selected census metropolitan areas:

[xii] Statistics Bundesamt – Average gross monthly earnings:

[xiii] Federal Statistical Office – Wages, income from employment and labour costs:

[xiv] The United States Census Bureau – Income and Poverty in the United States: 2019:,and%20Table%20B%2D5

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Operational Efficiency in Architectural Insulation

In business, there is no substitute for efficiency. Defined as the ability to do or produce something without wasting materials, time, or energy, in today’s commercial architecture, a building’s long-term operational efficiency is far more impactful than any efficiency achieved in design or construction.

Building Envelope

John Calacci of Calacci Construction in Iowa City, IA is keen on efficiency achieved through a hands-on approach to managing his business.

“Self-performing as much as we do increases control over everything – quality, safety, schedule, cost, and profit,” says Calacci, whose firm builds commercial buildings across multiple sectors – Industrial, Healthcare, Municipal, and Commercial. When it came to constructing his own new 15,800-SF office building, Calacci’s appreciation for operational efficiency drove decision-making.

“We wanted a good tight seal on the building. We used locally sourced materials and recycled materials like concrete and such. However, for us, it is more about efficiency than being particularly green,” says Calacci. Because the building’s design combined a glass curtain wall with punched window masonry, a tight seal required precision in materials and workmanship. To meet the International Building Code (IBC) exterior walls must have a complete thermal break and Calacci selected molded polystyrene rigid foam insulation from Atlas Molded Products for several reasons.

“Atlas is local, about 30 miles from here,” continued Calacci. “More importantly, their products come in a wide range of thicknesses, which really helped us fill in around some complex architectural detailing.”

Calacci explains that some cavity sections in his undulating walls were as much as 6” of void space, while other sections were just 2” of space. Working with their local White Cap representative, Calacci purchased 19,200 board-feet of Atlas Molded Products’ ThermalStar Wall Insulation Board, which achieves an R-value in the mid-20s according to Calacci’s estimates. ThermalStar insulations provide the required strength, energy efficiency, and moisture resistance at a cost-conscious price. Pre-scored ThermalStar Wall Insulation Board allows installers to easily create custom width by bending the insulation board along perforations and snapping it into pieces.


For Uline, North America’s largest distributor of shipping and industrial packaging materials, efficiency involves an interconnected web of people, parts, and processes. Established in 1980, Uline has grown to more than 4,000 employees supplying more than 31,000 packaging, cleaning, industrial, and general use products. When it comes to facility design and construction, operational efficiency is central to decision-making. While ThermalStar insulations compare favorably to XPS materials in terms of durability, first-term vs long term costs, and lifetime R-value, on the Uline project efficient installation was also a critical consideration.

Uline’s massive 1,000,000-SF distribution center at the Wisconsin Headquarters has a roof the length of four football fields, which required high-quality insulation that could be reliably installed and would not have to be revisited for a long, long time. While other types of rigid foam insultations may claim higher initial R-values, third-party testing has shown that over time off-gassing in XPS insulations reduces thermal effectiveness. ThermalStar insulations from Atlas Molded Products come with a limited lifetime warranty for both the material’s thermal and physical properties that guarantee their performance for the life of the building.

“SRS installed more than 1,000,000 square feet of roofing and received a ‘Perfect’ inspection score,” declares Tom Bechtel, a Commercial Estimator at SRS Roofing and Sheet Metal of Waterford, WI. Bechtel admits that at the time the prospect of taking on the largest job in firm history in a low-bid environment caused some trepidation.

“You have to streamline crew efficiency to achieve the required production rates, while at the same time making certain that the quality is maintained,” continues Bechtel. Determining the right amount of insulation to keep crews moving as quickly as possible was a challenge because there wasn’t any room on site to store a large volume of insulation prior to installation. Fortunately for SRS, through an existing relationship with Atlas Molded Products, they were able to coordinate a steady flow of insulation to the site with a just-in-time delivery process. Atlas supplied insulation to the Uline jobsite from both Fond du Lac, WI, and Washington, Iowa, which are just two of Atlas’ sixteen North American manufacturing locations.


As a Quality Assurance Construction Representative for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Daniel Morak enjoys overseeing projects of many scales and complexities.

“Seeing a team transform a piece of ground from nothing into a building is thrilling,” says Morak. The USACE is a federal agency under the Department of Defense often tasked with building facilities where U.S. armed forces train, work, and live. Among the many projects, USACE has completed at Fort Carson, in Colorado Springs, CO, the new state-of-the-art Attack Hangar at Butts Airfield has been one of the most exciting in recent years.

Designed to hold six AH-64 Apache attack helicopters, the 142,000-SF hangar is an open-span pre-cast concrete building where aircraft maintenance personnel need to work comfortably even with the massive hangar doors wide open on Colorado’s coldest day.

“Radiant heating built into the hangar’s concrete floor will maintain thermal comfort during the colder months of the year,” says Morak. Placed beneath the slab, a radiant heat system circulates a hot liquid beneath the concrete that radiates up and is released via convection. As much as 50 percent of a building’s heat loss occurs at the perimeter and slab of the foundation, making a below-grade thermal barrier vital to efficient thermal comfort in the large, high-ceiling hangar. The USACE’s design specification called for rigid insulation beneath the tubes and 60 PSI high-strength, rigid insulation from Atlas Molded Products was ultimately selected.

Atlas’ line of architectural insulations provides owners and builders with stable R-values between 4.2 and 4.7 per inch and high compressive strengths ranging from 15 to 60 psi. Molded polystyrene’s ability to quickly dry after wetting conditions facilitates its ability to maintain R-values for the life of the building, which translates to more efficient operations.

“The molded polystyrene foam insulation was really easy to work with,” says Morak. The soil was compacted, covered with 1-inch rock, and the rigid foam was laid flat on top of it. The installation team was able to cut penetrations, notch around pipes, and easily fit around every angle.

Cost is always a driver in any material selection process. Savvy builders and owners like Calacci, Uline, and the USACE understand the necessity of calculating not only first costs but long-term operations costs into decision making.

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Pandemic Places Are Paragon’s New Opportunity

As we re-enter workplaces across the nation, the question of how commercial spaces will look has been front and center. A New York Times piece shared that 80% of workplaces are moving to a hybrid model where employees work from home three days per week.

Commercial interior designers are seizing their moment, crafting safe, functional places that are suitable for the new, hybrid workplace.

One such design firm is Paragon Commercial Interiors. When the pandemic began, Paragon made the shift to remote work.

“Like many in our industry, the pandemic slowed or halted many of our projects. Instead of waiting idly for work to appear, we captured the time by learning and expanding our skills,” Dana Wilkinson, founder and CEO shared. “We were preparing ourselves to help clients return.”

No strangers to economic downturns, Dana and Darla started Paragon in the 1983. Laughing, they share how it wasn’t easy to start a business at the time, but they saw it through and are a stronger company for it. Their business started as just the two of them, but has grown to 15 employees.

“15 is the right number for us. We are a close-knit team, and we provide a high-level of service to our clients,” Darla Evans, company President, explained. “We have the expertise and experience to handle projects of any size, and our clients choose us, because we are attentive to them every step of the way.”

One such client is SSAB, who called upon Paragon when the world began opening back up. With 500 employees, their goal was separation between employees. Paragon helped them develop various ways to accomplish the task at hand. Adding glass stackers between workstations and enlarging work areas were just some of the ways to make sure all employees were safe.

In addition to modifying existing workplaces, Paragon is hard at work helping specific industries look to the future. Higher education has experienced tremendous change during the pandemic; however, there is still a need for functional, in-person spaces for student instruction. Paragon is partnering with local universities, colleges, community colleges, and technical schools to adjust classrooms so they can teach virtually and in-person. Those attending class in person also still need collaborative study spaces, and Paragon is working to design these for these types of institutions. They are also helping design studios for instructors to deliver 100% online content. Whether remote, in-person, or hybrid, it’s important to integrate technology into these spaces; Paragon looks at functionality first to understand who will use the space and how it should function before adding design elements. Ultimately, the goal for education spaces –or any space –is to be functional and enhance the experience for those within it.

The experience of working from home has elevated everyone’s viewpoint of what we need to be productive. Paragon has positioned themselves as a valuable partner as employers and individuals map out how to work and live in the future.

About Paragon: Since 1983, Paragon has lived up to its name by exemplifying a model of excellence both locally and internationally through comprehensive design services for a diverse range of clients.

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Top Ways to Increase the Value of Your House

There is no way to accurately predict an exact home’s appreciation rate since it is subject to constant change, such as a change in buyers, a change in available homes, and a change in inflation. Moreover, you never know whether you’ll be in a position to sell your home on a hot market.

You can increase the value of your home by making home improvements, regardless of whether you plan to renovate or sell. There are a few things you can do to ensure the best possible results if you’re trying to sell your home or make some much-needed improvements. Easy home improvements, like updating appliances or upgrading your garden, can make your house more valuable and desirable. Let’s talk about some of these home improvements.

Focus On The Roof

A recent study declared that replacing worn-out areas of a house’s roof provided an impressive 63% return on investment. The logic behind this is simple: if a buyer thinks they might need to spend extra money to repair a leak, replace the entire roof, or change to commercial roofing systems, it will drastically drop the price they are willing to pay. Therefore, repairing a small area of the tiling, as opposed to changing the whole roof, is a relatively cost-effective means to increase your home’s value.

Clean And Declutter

Using this method, you can immediately increase the value of your home. For example, thorough cleaning and decluttering can increase the value of your home by thousands of dollars, on average. So whether or not you plan to move, if your home is clean and pristine, you might still find that organizing and clearing out the clutter can improve your quality of life.

Cleaning and decluttering are relatively inexpensive tasks, but they are still very time-consuming and tedious. Begin by sorting through closets and cabinets and creating a donation pile. Ensure that you’re not holding onto items you don’t need or want in drawers and other storage areas of your home.

A Splash Of Fresh Paint

A brand-new coat of paint can do wonders, regardless of whether you are painting your home inside or outside. You can make even dated interiors and exteriors look unique with just a coat of paint, and it isn’t that expensive, either. If you have a room painted in an odd color palette, you should repaint it. For example, did you allow your then-9-year-old daughter to paint the walls of her bedroom hot pink a couple of years ago? If yes, that’s a great place to start repainting. To change the paint in your home, you can expect to spend between $2-$6 for every square foot covered.

Lights, Fixtures, And Sockets

If you want to showcase your house to its full potential, it needs to look as good as possible. So be sure to open the curtains and blinds, clean all of the windows and take steps to improve the lighting in the property. For example, you should turn on ambient lighting for evening viewings to create a warm atmosphere. Also, consider using LED lighting for power saving.

Today, we also have many gadgets at our disposal, like tablets, laptops, and game consoles. All of them need a power source. So be sure that you provide a sufficient number of outlets in a location where they don’t look untidy. Wireless chargers and retractable sockets can even be concealed inside cabinets and worktops, allowing you to provide extra power and flexibility without appearing unprofessional. In addition to wireless charging, USB ports in power outlets score extra points.

Remodel The Kitchen

Many buyers pay close attention to the kitchen as the central area of a home, so if your kitchen feels outdated, it can negatively affect how much you make from a sale. If updating your entire kitchen is a herculean undertaking, a minor and quick remodel could still have a significant impact on your home’s value — consider coordinating appliances and new modern hardware installations on your cabinets. Paint all the cupboards, purchase new cupboard handles and renovate the work surfaces to give your kitchen a unique feeling of life.

Work On The Doors And Windows

There’s no use in having a nicely remodeled exterior if your front door or window shutters look a mess. This is quite an easy fix. You can quickly get away by simply giving the doorknob or letterbox a neat polish, buying new stainless steel door numbers, or a nice, new knocker. Plus, there are a plethora of paints at your disposal. You can decide to paint the doors and shutter with whatever color you think works best. Also, ensure you go through each room and see if there are any visible defects on the doors and windows, whether it’s missing knobs, creaking doors, or broken windows. Each one will ruin the attractiveness of your home, so carefully go through and fix all of them.

Create More Space

A larger home usually sells for more money. The solution is pretty straightforward and obvious. To accomplish this, you can either tear down walls or add more rooms. In general, buyers tend to pay more attention to how much usable square footage they have than the number of rooms in a house (except for bedrooms). Therefore, you may want to consider knocking down a wall if you wish to create a bright, open-concept space. Thus, you would have one impressive room instead of two equally underwhelming ones. Nonetheless, adding an extra bedroom or remodeling the kitchen into a functional and spacious kitchen-dining area is highly likely to increase your asking price. Take a moment to look around. What area of your house would benefit from having another bathroom?

Add Technology

This one will appeal to tech geeks. Smart home gadgets are attracting more people to purchase homes. One survey found that homebuyers wanted pre-installed intelligent home products if they were to buy a house. Here are some gadgets to consider:

  • Smart thermostats
  • Smart fire detectors
  • Smart carbon monoxide detectors
  • Smart camera
  • Smart lock
  • Smart lighting system

Not only does intelligent technology increase value, but it also enhances your home’s aesthetics.

Now that you know the best ways to increase home value, you’re ready to make home improvement decisions. You should seek the advice of professional real estate agents in your area if you wish to have even greater confidence in getting the best price for your home when you are ready to sell.

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