Fast-Track Construction In Winfield

September 28, 2010

At 660,000 square feet, the new distribution center for Newell Rubbermaid in Winfield, KS, is not only the largest project completed this year in Kansas but is among the fastest ever built on that scale in the Sunflower State. The facility, developed for lease by InSite Real Estate LLC, a Chicago-based developer, was built in just 150 days using the faster design-build project delivery method and metal building systems construction.

Carefully coordinated project management by Felderman Design Build, the Fort Wayne, IN-based general contractor, the owner/developer, and a Tulsa, OK-based steel erection subcontractor was essential because of the already tight schedule that became potentially encumbered by more than 40 days of rain and other winter weather conditions that should have scuttled those days of work, according to Russ Felderman, CEO for Felderman Design Build.

“Six of those 40 days were such bad weather that we couldn't work at all because of paralyzing conditions,” recounts Dan Eads, senior project manager, who with Mike Chidister, project manager, oversaw the project for Felderman Design Build. “In addition to the weather problems, we also faced a lot of underlying rock just a foot down and changes the owner wanted to the building after we had started. Even so, we completed the project without extensions in the schedule.”

Because Rubbermaid faced expiring leases at other shipping points being consolidated into the Winfield building, the Chicago developer needed to adhere to the challenging schedule when site work began in January, said Ted Prasopoulos, managing director with the large Chicago-based development firm.

InSite has acquired or developed more than 400 standalone buildings – 14 million square feet of industrial buildings alone – in its portfolio that is structured for long-term ownership. The company specializes in developing or redeveloping large industrial buildings for lease across the nation.

“We've had a longstanding relationship with Rubbermaid and even acquired their 1.3-million-square-foot headquarters in Wooster, OH,” says Prasopoulos. “This new warehouse in Winfield is a companion building for finished foam-insulated coolers that are made across the street at their manufacturing plant.”

He adds, “All of our customers normally want a project done quickly as the trend continues across the country toward adopting single points of distribution. However, the one in Winfield was clearly different because of the urgency reflected in the timeframe of the project's delivery.”

Felderman Design Build had completed two retail projects in Indiana for InSite and offered 33 years of experience on 660 building projects worth an aggregate total of $150 million. InSite was confident in their capabilities and awarded them the Winfield project on a design-build basis. To help meet the schedule constraints, the project was designed around pre-engineered metal building systems supplied by Butler Manufacturing Co. This primary materials solution ensured firm pricing, faster erection and better quality control over the finished building.

“I like Butler buildings and particularly their standing seam metal roof system,” says Prasopoulos. “We had contracted for two other projects using them at the time. This type of construction gave us the 50- by 50-foot bays with the clear height we wanted in case it ever needs to be adapted to another user. The roof has just enough pitch to drain properly, and we avoid having a bunch of penetrations for air-handling or other roof-mounted units up there. So you end up with a continuous seamed metal system.”

“One of our biggest maintenance expenses on buildings is their roofs, but our costs for maintaining Butler MR-24 roofs have been virtually nothing,” he says. “It is a great roof.”

“The Fleming Co., our steel erection subcontractor, assigned 65 of their most experienced field workers to the Winfield project,” points out Felderman. “They were an extraordinary crew and even resorted to using dozers to assist in moving steel erection equipment around the site when conditions were at their worst.”

“We had a firm completion date set for May 25 for the total building, and we were able to temporarily close off and turn over a fourth of the space to Rubbermaid on March 24, just three days after we poured the concrete floor,” says Felderman. “We tracked the schedule using Microsoft project management software and reported to the owner almost daily, in addition to having two live video cameras at the site that they could monitor 24/7. The Butler structural system and related components had phenomenal quality control that further prevented delays.”

The building, which has 36 dock doors down one side, operates at ambient temperatures except for the sprinkler system's pumphouses and the 3,000 square feet of office space. The 10-percent glycol sprinkler system, serving 18 zones, provides fire protection. In addition, the building has low-level concrete bumpers around the inside perimeter for protection against forklift traffic, an energy-efficient lighting system and a tornado shelter incorporated into the office area. The facility's site would accept another 250,000 square feet in the future.

Using advanced electronic technology, materials and project delivery methods, the building was completed without a lost-time injury on time and on schedule by a contractor based 840 miles away. The facility brought 60 jobs to the Winfield area, located near Wichita.