Our First Distribution Center - Part One

Standing up the First Wall Section
It’s called “tilt-up” construction. The walls are cast of concrete, in sections, then “tilted up”. The first wall section is always a special milestone. (27 August 2020). The wall sections are 45 feet in height, 18 feet wide and 12” thick – and weigh over 100,000 pounds each.

Comparing our original building of 1977 to our first Distribution Center, of 2020/21, is like comparing the Wright Brothers’ first airplane to Air Force One. Our original building was 1,536 sq. ft. and of “pole-frame” construction; it was made with the same building process they use on farms for equipment storage—wooden poles and sheet metal siding. We added a concrete floor, utilities and a restroom, finished out the walls and ceiling—it only took 35 days, start to

South Wall
The south wall is 515 feet in length; it was the first to be cast and tilted up. The heavy steel rods help hold the sections in place, during construction.

finish. For the next 11 years, we added on three times, using the same “pole-frame” construction, ending with 10,000 sq. ft.
In the summer of 1988, we purchased 12 acres on the southeast corner of exit 121 off Interstate 70—West Van Horn Tavern Road. This time we upgraded to “metal-frame” construction and built a 30,000 square foot combination warehouse and office building; later we named it the Washington building—we moved in during January of 1989. Over the next

Larry by SE Corner Stake
Groundbreaking (rough grading to balance the grade of the land) began the week of 18 May. This stake marks the location of the southeast corner of the building. The cut, at this point, was 4.0 feet.

30 years, we acquired adjacent vacant acreage and built the Jefferson building; and we acquired two adjacent lots with older buildings and refurbished/expanded them—Roosevelt and Lincoln buildings. We also expanded the original Washington building three times. In the end, we had 189,000 sq. ft. of warehouse space—in “metal-frame” constructed buildings.
So now, thirty years later, 2018, it was time for more warehouse space, more office space and more parking space. We had bought the land (200 acres) ten

First pour of wall sections
Wall sections are poured in two steps, this is the first. Three inches of concrete is poured over wire mesh, and then 2-1/2’ sheets of Styrofoam are attached for insulation. This ultimately becomes the outside wall of the building.

years earlier, and now began planning for our first “stand alone” Distribution Center. Building a new, large distribution center is a really, really big deal; it takes an unimaginable amount of planning from all engaged parties and more lead time than nearly anything we’ve ever done—oh, and it’s expensive!
For this building we chose the “tilt-up” concrete construction method and settled on 360,000 sq. ft. for the initial build. In “tilt-up” the wall sections of the building are

Second pour of wall sections
The second step contains all the structural steel, over the top of the Styrofoam. After a few days, the wood forms are removed, and the wall sections are tilted into position.

cast flat from concrete, in two parts, with insulation in between; then lifted/tilted into position with a big crane. Window openings and doorways are framed out before the casting process begins.
Preparing the building pad itself was quite a process; modern technology has allowed us to build warehouse floors designed to last practically as long as the pyramids. The first wall slab was tilted up on 27 August, the last on 21 October—55 days. That’s the end of part one!

Last Wall Section being “tilted” into position
Fifty-six days after tilting up the first section of wall, the last section is moved into position. Shortly thereafter, the big red crane was disassembled and trucked to its next job site.