General Contracting for Distribution Centers

I literally grew up in the Material Handling industry.  When I was a kid, on weekends and holidays, I was working for my father and helping to install everything from Pallet Rack, to Garment on Hanger (GOH), to Mezzanines and Conveyor Systems.   General contracting for distribution centers didn’t exist.
Over the years, I have seen the Material Handling industry evolve in many ways.  It always appeared to me that Distribution Centers were seen as a cost center or a liability for the company.  Now, many years later, it appears that everyone is realizing that building the right Distribution Center is a way to increase space utilization, maximize employee productivity, and overall reduce costs.  I have also seen the code requirements change over the years.  It is not that building codes did not exist before, because they did.  Rather, it is because they are now taken far more seriously.

One of the first deals I saw my father make, began with a meeting and ended with a handshake.  We started the project the very next day.

About 13 years ago, we were called into a building that was about to be shut down because the Material Handling provider did not submit for permits.  The mezzanine could not support the required 125 pounds per square foot, the GOH underneath the mezzanine was not installed in compliance with the required sprinkler system and there was basically no egress path.  The code official was ready to shut the building down.  To be honest, I had almost zero experience with code requirements at the time.  But when the potential customer asked if we could help, I said yes.  And help, we did.

We found the right Professional Engineer (PE) and he helped us through it.  In a relatively short period we had submitted the proper permit application and before long, we corrected all of the problems.  That customer actually became one of our best customers and we still work for them today.

Trial by Fire

I learned in a trial by fire 13 years ago how important submitting the correct permit application package was.  I have been learning ever since as the code requirements based on specific storage systems are always evolving and changing.  As of right now ABCO Systems LLC, has 27 active permit application packages out to a multitude of different townships across the country.  Today, along with the industry and the code officials, ABCO Systems has also evolved.  It is no longer a viable option to simply install Pallet Rack or GOH without going through the necessary steps.

ABCO Systems LLC, has become a full service provider for just about anything any of our customers needs.  From what I can tell, we have become one of the first General Contractors for the Material Handling world.  ABCO handles the project management (PM) of building out of your entire storage system.  We begin by providing all of our end users with a complete view of exactly what they will need in order to build out their system.  We continue by getting competitive quotes for the necessary trades such as Fire Suppression, Electric, Dock Door or even HVAC.  ABCO manages the entire process from the Permit Expediting all the way to the installation and then finally the inspections.

We do what we do, so that you can do what you do.  We do it fast, we do it competitively priced, and we do it with the customers specific requirements in mind.

At ABCO Systems we are not just selling steel products, we sell solutions.

Pre-Lease Reports

Pre-Lease Reports

I have written about pre-lease reports once before, but I still see it all the time.  In an effort to save time and money, many companies moving into a new facility forgo any real due diligence and simply hope that the building will be capable of supporting all of their requirements.  Sometimes this strategy works out.  If the building is relatively new, and/or the previous tenant filled their obligations to keep the building to code, chances are that the building is compliant with necessary code requirements.  Unfortunately, this is not always the case.  And simply put, when the incoming tenant does not have all the facts before a lease is signed, the required work and the time needed to complete the work can be extremely costly.

We design and build Distribution Centers for a living, and we see this all the time.  Based on countrywide local code requirements all material handling storage systems require a permit before the building can begin, and an inspection before they can be used.  Code officials do not care about the viability or the tenants business or their own personal schedule.  Code officials are only concerned about one thing: Life Safety Requirements.  For every permit package application we are required to submit structural calculations, confirmation that the fire protection is sufficient to support the storage layout based on the commodity class, and an emergency lighting and egress plan.  And because each and every business has different methodologies, different commodities and different storage requirements, no permit application package is the same.  Even a simple pallet rack design requires all of this.  In fact, if the storage is over 12’, then a High Pile Analysis also needs to be done.  In rack sprinklers might be required.  Ingress doors might also be required.  Not even including the actual cost of the work itself, both of these can become costly very fast as they require an updated permit application package and time to complete the physical work.

Garment on Hanger systems, Mezzanines, Pick Modules and Conveyor systems.  They all have very specific requirements that pertain to their own specific application.  A Pre-Lease Report can cost money up front.  But it can save a fortune when it actually matters because organizations tend to have a lot of things that revolve around the schedule of the material handling system being installed and ready for use.  A Pre-Lease Report will provide an analysis of the building.  It will tell you the capabilities of your sprinkler system and how that will effect what and how you can store your product.  It will tell you if you have sufficient ingress and egress doors.  Essentially, the Pre-Lease Report will help you understand the viability of the building.  Typically, the Report will also come with a preliminary design of how you want to store your product as that will be necessary in order to confirm your material handling storage system will work in your building.  Without this prior analysis, even the best designers in the world are only guessing as to what will work and what will not.

There is also another benefit to the Pre-Lease Report.  Once a lease is signed, the tenant will have zero bargaining power.  However, if the potential tenant is armed with knowledge of the capabilities of the building, they will have a lot more bargaining power with the landlord.

Our suggestion at ABCO Systems LLC, is to ensure you are working with a qualified Material Handling company that has the knowledge and capability to understand how this type of information can actually save you essential time and money.