Commercial Progress Report

Good Knight

by Lisa Hanchey

Knight Oil Tools' newest facility was built with preservation in mind Knight Oil Tools' newest facility was built with preservation in mind. By Lisa Hanchey

Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012

At a glance, Knight Oil Tools' new office building appears to be a solid, structural-steel building with the most contemporary of designs. But, behind that sleek façade is an environmentally-conscious objective. In fact, the unique serpentine-like skywalk connecting the original and new buildings was constructed with a specific purpose in mind - to preserve the existing oak tree on the grounds.

Designed by architect Don Breaux and contractor Rudick Construction Company, both of which were involved in building Knight's headquarters on Highway 90 near Broussard, the new Knight office complex is a three-story, stand-alone building with a sleek surface mirroring the original complex. "What makes the building so unique is the 200-foot-plus skywalk that connects the original building with the new one so that the occupants do not have to go outside in the traffic at all," says Gary Rudick, president of Rudick Construction. "It all had to twist and turn and snake around that oak tree and tie back into the existing building. The layout, the planning, the measurements, the preciseness in order to make it all work - everything had to fit like a puzzle to go into this dedicated and designated space."

Constructed of composite building panels, the exterior of Knight's new complex is surfaced with aluminum and glass complementing the adjacent headquarters. Inside the walls are condensed poly foam, which has a high R-value, a measure of thermal resistance. "The higher R-value makes it easier to heat and cool the building and makes it more energy-efficient," Rudick explains.

Interiors were designed to be as efficient as possible, with plastic laminate doors, drop ceilings, high-wear carpeting and sound batt insulation between office walls. "Mr. Breaux and the owners were on the same page to make the building as workable and as nice as they could, but still make it efficient with some long-lasting materials," Rudick says.

Along the three floors are offices, conference rooms and break areas. Each office is operated from an individually-controlled air conditioning/heating condenser. "These new energy-saving Mitsubishi units are supposed to the cat's meow," Rudick says. "Instead of having one big central air conditioning with one thermostat, these units are all individually located in each room, so that everybody can set the temperature to their own personal comfort level. I think it's going to create a whole new environment for everyone."

A year prior to breaking ground on the new building, Rudick Construction added spaces to the parking lot next door. Construction on Knight's companion building commenced 10 months ago, and is on track to finish ahead of the one-year projected completion date. "Logistically, it was quite a challenge, because operations had to be going on all of the time," Rudick says. "We are hoping within the next two to three weeks to officially turn the building over to Knight."

In 1972, former oil and gas sales rep Eddy Knight launched Knight Specialties using his personal vehicle as an office and storing inventory in his  garage and backyard. After opening Knight Specialties' first official stock point in Morgan City, Knight relocated to Lafayette in 1974 and moved the company's headquarters to the current campus at 2727 S.E. Evangeline Thruway. In 1976, Knight expanded to Texas, opening Knight and Phillips Specialties in Houston and Harmon Rentals in Kilgore. That same year, he formed Knight and Phillips Rental Company in Oklahoma.

Knight acquired Douglas Oil Tools in Louisiana, Point Blank Rental Tools in Texas and American Rental Tools in Oklahoma in 1983. In 1984, these companies merged operations, becoming Knight Oil Tools. Under the umbrella of Knight Oil Tools, the company acquired Robinson Tubular Services, Fishing Services, Tri*Drill Services, Prideco Rentals and Myco Rentals. Following Eddy Knight's death in 2002, Knight Oil Tools continued as a family-run operation, with Eddy's widow Ann Knight serving as chairman, and sons Mark Knight as president & CEO and Bryan Knight as vice president. Today, Knight Oil Tools provides complete rental, fishing, well services, manufacturing packages, saw services, drilling jars, inspecting, hardbanding and safety training to the oil and gas industry worldwide.

Knight Oil Tools' new office space is a tribute to Eddy Knight's fortitude throughout the ups and downs of the oil and gas industry. "I just think this building signals that Lafayette is still really consistently growing," Rudick says. "It just goes to show the commitment by families like the Knights to keep their businesses growing, and to show what a central hub South Louisiana is for that growth. I think the Knights are making a statement by believing in South Louisiana and putting their money here to afford people the opportunity to have jobs here."