Blacks Run Trash Pick Up

Harman is proud of Wayne Witmer and his sons for their service work with the Tenth Legion 4-H Club in the Blacks Run Cleanup day on Saturday. Volunteers, in total, picked up 2 tons worth of litter. More can be read about this service effort here in the DNR article (

Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community Progressing

Framing, roofing and window installation is ongoing on two of the residential units at Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community Woodland Park. The slabs were poured on another unit and the community building on Friday.

Veteran Nancy Bowers Shares Her Thoughts

Harman employee and Veteran, Nancy Bowers, shares her thoughts on Veterans Day.

Harman’s Signature Aviation Project

The hangar door frames are being installed at the Signature Aviation project at the Charlottesville Albemarle Airport. Project completion is scheduled for early December.

IMG_2521 IMG_2523

Our Summer Vacation – An Inspiration for Green Building


Rainbow Falls – Gorges State Park

On our summer vacation with family this month, we spent time Southwest of Asheville, NC in an area of the mountains near the Blue Ridge Escarpment.

The Blue Ridge Escarpment is the steep transition area between the mountains and the Piedmont.  The severe elevations changes, combined with heavy rainfall in this region, qualify the area as a temperate rain forest featuring numerous waterfalls, river gorges, and rare plant and animal species.

20 plus years ago I was introduced to a specific region around the Horsepasture River by a very good friend while we both were attending school not far away in South Carolina.  My friend grew up in this part of North Carolina and knew the best places to go and visit.   The waterfalls along the Horsepasture are one of those places.

In college, we visited these waterfalls as frequently as our schedules allowed, especially in the milder months when we could swim or slide down one of the waterfalls.  Unfortunately, after graduating from college, I heard that you couldn’t access this area any longer.   I was very disappointed to hear that such a wonderful place was not open to the public, and that I wouldn’t be able to share this area with my son and daughter.  However, earlier this summer we were excited to find out that North Carolina had created a new State Park in 1999 featuring a trail that provides access to these same waterfalls.

As we planned our vacation, a visit to this new Gorges State Park, was high on the list of priorities.    The weather was beautiful during our vacation and so one morning we set out with our swimsuits, snacks, water, and cameras.  We arrived at the parks visitor center,  newly opened in 2012, purchased a map, secured additional directions from the park staff and promptly set out on a reasonable 1.5 mile hike down to waterfalls.   We passed the creek and spot where my friends and I used to camp, hiked past Rainbow Fall, and then onto Turtleback Falls.   It was an incredible experience sharing this area with my son and daughter.  Now, 14 and 16 years old, they were now old enough to enjoy sliding down Turtleback Falls.

During this incredible adventure in the outdoors, I was also reminded of the responsibility we have as building professionals to the world we have been given and the impact of what we design and build.


Visitor’s Center – Gorges State Park

When we arrived at the visitor’s center I discovered a thoughtfully designed site and building.   I was not surprised to find out that the Gorges State Park 7,100 square foot visitor’s center was designed to national green building standards and includes many sustainable building features.

In 2013 the project was awarded LEED Gold certification.   Like the park, the building and associated site development is special and includes elements in the design, such as a waterfall feature, which make it fit well into this special mountain setting.   Other site and building features include solar energy systems, geothermal systems, rainwater collection, water saving fixtures, local materials, and beautiful water efficient natural landscaping.  The building also has museum-quality exhibits, some which educate visitors on the green features of the building and site, in addition to letting visitors explore the natural and cultural history of the area.

After visiting Gorges State Park I can’t wait to go back!  If you are traveling in this region or if you are planning a trip, I highly recommend visiting this area and visiting Gorges State Park, DuPont State Forest and other surrounding natural areas that are breathtakingly beautiful and wonderfully unique.

If you are like me, you will be inspired by your visit.

Travis Layman

LEED AP, HCI Preconstruction Team Member

Travis Layman

Travis Layman

Harman Team-Building Day

IMG_0141Do you ever find yourself so busy with the day to day of work that you can’t catch your breath?  Sometimes it takes putting something on the schedule to break the routine and allow us to experience something different.

On May 21st we scheduled a day just like that.  We put down the blueprints, cell phones, and computers and traded them for coffee cups and climbing harnesses.

We broke the routine and in the process found wonderful benefits.  We got to know each other better, grew stronger as a team and accomplished things we didn’t think we could do.

In the morning we heard Wayne Witmer share the company vision, listened to a panel of clients share about their Harman experience, and was inspired as Matt Lohr spoke to us about “A Lasting Legacy.”

IMG_0153After a delicious lunch we headed out into the drizzly weather to tackle the ropes course.  Many of us were pushed beyond our comfort zones, learned to work as a team and cheered each other on.

It was a wonderful day and we are thankful to John Hall and the staff of Camp Horizons for serving us so well.

Here are what some of the members of the Harman Team had to say about the team-building day.

“It was a good opportunity to come together and connect with other employees.  Learn a bit more about them, strengths areas of improvement and learn how to help each other be successful. It was challenging to let your guard down and share things in a group that you wouldn’t normally do.”  – Zack Fletchall

“Great day! We are busy most of the time and don’t get a chance to pause and spend time together and learn about the advantages of teamwork and communication.  I was reminded of the critical items of team-building and working together.” -Travis Layman

“Great day together with the whole staff outside of the office in a relaxed setting and, getting to hang out with people that you don’t see every day.  It was challenging to share strengths and weaknesses.” – Ryan Strite

“I am the newest office employee and it has been wonderful to get to know people that I haven’t met yet, specifically some of the guys that work in the field. The most difficult thing was walking blindfolded through the woods.” – Tammy McKibben

“I learned things about people that I didn’t know.  It was hard to share some personal things, but it broke the ice to our working relationships.” – Nancy Bowers

“It was neat to get to know people that I hadn’t met in 2 years since working at Harman. Once people know each other they work together better. Since I am scared of heights, I am glad I got this opportunity to go across the cable and accomplish that.  It felt great.” – Sandy Rohrbaugh

“I think it helped people understand each other better than they did before, and broke down some our assumptions.” – Wayne Witmer

“We are all in this together, I want us to continue to be a good team working together.  Teamwork is each person on the team helping solve the other person’s problems.  If we do that, we will be strong and the chain won’t be broken.” – Carl Harman

Zenith Quest Groundbreaking in Afton

Here at Harman we are excited to be partnering with a growing local business, Zenith Quest Corporation, on the construction of their new warehouse and light manufacturing facility in Afton, Va.

Excavating Equipment On-site Ready to Move Dirt

Excavating equipment on-site ready to move dirt

On Saturday, April 25th, a groundbreaking ceremony was held in preparation for the upcoming project. Zenith Quest founder, Kutlay “Peter” Kay, his wife Hanri, and their children moved the first dirt. Afterwards there was a reception held for employees, family, friends, and supporters at Zenith Quest’s existing office.

Kutlay "Peter" Kay, his wife Hanri, and their children

Kutlay “Peter” Kay, his wife Hanri, and their children

Zenith Quest was founded in Afton five years ago and has grown very rapidly.  They are an import/export company specializing in ammunition and firearms. For the past year and a half they have been importing ammunition and then selling to Walmart.

“The company has grown from three years ago, just having two staff at our office at Pantops, to now we have a dozen staff here [in Afton], and a dozen overseas as well,” said facilities manager Ray Miles.

Moving the First Shovels of Dirt

Moving the first shovels of dirt

This facility will allow them to continue their expansion into the import and sale of firearms. This growth will result in 30 new jobs for the local area.

The facility will be an “L” shaped 80,000 square foot, pre-engineered Butler metal building. The space is going to be primarily used for Zenith’s product storage. It will also feature an office, bathrooms, and loading docks. This facility was designed through the collaborative effort of Design-Build Manager Jim Ellinger, working with Zenith Quest, to create a facility that meets their needs and goals now and into the future.

The Staff of Zenith Quest with their Families

Zenith Quest staff and their families

View the Newsplex 19 news story about this project by clicking here.