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A United Convoy: Completion of $37M HQ brings nonprofit on one campus for first time in its history

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Roughly two years after Convoy of Hope broke ground for its Global Headquarters and Training Center, the $37 million, 200,000-square-foot project now occupied by hundreds of employees is in the final steps toward completion. 

Located at 1 Convoy Drive near Amazon’s Republic facility and attached via a second-story skywalk to its 230,000-square-foot distribution center, the new headquarters unites local personnel onto one campus for the first time in its nearly 30-year history, the nonprofit’s officials say.

The international humanitarian relief organization is planning an Oct. 5 invitation-only dedication ceremony for the three-story headquarters, for which Q & Co. LLC served as general contractor and Buxton Kubik Dodd Design Collective was project architect. Convoy spokesperson Ethan Forhetz said finishing touches, such as completion of audiovisual editing suites, were still in progress as of late September.

He describes the scene over the past several weeks as “excitement mixed with flurry” when approximately 125 employees moved into the headquarters amid ongoing interior and exterior construction work. In all, 272 employees work at the headquarters and distribution center, he said.

“Everything needs to be done by Thursday, and we think that it will,” Forhetz said, in reference to the Oct. 5 event. “Landscaping just went in within the last week or so. It’s a final charge down the home stretch.”

Forhetz said the communications and marketing department, in which he works, were the final employees to exit the company’s longtime former headquarters, just south of Commercial Street at 1660 N. Campbell Ave. Convoy of Hope sold the building earlier this year for an undisclosed price to real estate development company Prosperiti Partners LLC. He said Prosperiti shared a portion of the building for around the past year. Viviana Writer, asset manager and principal broker at Prosperiti, said the company isn’t disclosing the purchase price or plans for the building at this time.

The Campbell Avenue building sale follows O’Reilly Automotive Inc.’s (Nasdaq: ORLY) 2021 purchase of the nonprofit’s former distribution center in Springfield on South Patterson Avenue, just off Chestnut Expressway. The new distribution center also allowed consolidation of Convoy’s disaster services team from leased space in Ozark.

Similar to when Convoy moved two years ago to the new distribution center, the headquarters relocation took place amid a busy period for the nonprofit’s humanitarian work. That included responding to domestic and international events in recent weeks, such as the Morocco earthquake and wildfires in Maui, Hawaii, and in eastern Washington.

Together time
Convoy of Hope founder and CEO Hal Donaldson described the opportunity to bring everyone together in one place as “pretty cool.”

“We’ve been at it for over two decades. You just kind of get used to living in different places,” he said. “This is going to improve our effectiveness and our efficiency big time. I’ve already noticed it. Rather than asking someone to drive across town, I ask them if they can pop up to my office from downstairs. It’s been amazing.”

Features of the new facility include a 60-by-160-foot atrium with a three-story ceiling, 710-seat auditorium, cafeteria, coffee shop, wellness center, production studios, collaboration workspaces and Hope Supply Co., a store of Convoy of Hope-branded products open to the public.

“People will be able to get gear, such as hats with logos, coffee mugs, those kinds of things,” Forhetz said. “We don’t have all the merchandise yet. That’s still something we’re working to get. It should be here by (Oct. 5).”

Forhetz said the auditorium, dubbed Harold and Betty Donaldson – The Hall, named posthumously after Donaldson’s parents, is a first for the organization.

“We will have staff chapels in here, and anytime we bring in people from around the world, this is a great meeting place for our staff,” he said, adding it also will serve as training center space. “We’ll be able to hold events here. We’re open to a lot of different things. To be able to get everybody in one room for the size that we are now is pretty incredible.”

Forhetz said the space for staff events or meetings now is a “night and day” difference.

“We used to have our gatherings in the old bank building, and it was all on one level,” he said, noting the Campbell Avenue space was formerly occupied by AG Financial. “We brought in folding chairs to sit. The sound and audio were nothing like we have here.”

There’s also room to grow in the headquarters. Roughly 26,000 square feet on the west side of the building nearest to the highway is empty by design.

“It’s just a shell right now,” Forhetz said.

Founded in 1994, Convoy of Hope has served more than 200 million people and distributed over $2 billion worth of supplies, officials say. Forhetz said over 21 million have been served this year alone. On Forbes’ latest list of largest American charities published in December, Convoy ranked No. 43, and its 2022 revenue exceeded $515 million, according to its annual report. The organization employs 345 people in the U.S. and another 169 outside the country, Forhetz said, adding staff outside of Springfield primarily work in warehouses and distribution centers.

Lending hands
While the organization has engaged over 950,000 volunteers since 1994, Donaldson said he’s hopeful the new headquarters will expand opportunities and interest from those looking to help the nonprofit.

“We really want this to grow with volunteers. There’s a lot of people who really want their opportunity to make a difference in the world,” he said. “So, now we have the space to invite them to come on in. We’re excited about that and building an army of volunteers to help this work get done.”

Volunteers play an important role in disaster response, said Stacy Lamb, vice president of disaster services. The department staffs 27 but depends on volunteers when emergencies arise, he said.

“It’s well over 100 [volunteers],” he said. “That allows us when we deploy to have numerous team members on the ground that help us lead and do all the things we do in the field.”

With still a quarter of the year to go, Convoy has responded to 67 disasters, including 32 internationally, Lamb said.

“This year definitely ranks on pace for a record,” he said. “In 2022, we had 75 for the year. We’ve been seeing an increase every year for the last several years. About a decade ago, we would see maybe 25 disasters the entire year globally.”

Lamb said Convoy’s growing staff and resources are allowing for more frequent responses.

“Yes, there likely are more disasters,” he said. “But also, there is the capacity to do more and respond to more.”

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