A more than 600,000-sq.-ft. (55,741 sq m) regional distribution center is under construction in Macon, Ga., and is expected to be operational by the end of 2013. Tractor Supply Company, the largest retail farm and ranch store chain in the United States, said the facility will serve stores throughout the Southeast.
“We evaluated numerous sites in several states and chose Macon as the best location,” said Gregory Sandfort, president and COO of the Tennessee-based Tractor Supply Company. “We’re especially pleased that this new facility will be built in Georgia, where we have a substantial and growing presence. This new, state-of-the-art distribution center will replace a smaller, leased facility in Braselton. This new facility will better support our growth requirements and enable us to continue to grow in Georgia.”
Work on the site began in July 2012, and the structure should be completed by summer. H&M Construction Company, headquartered in Jackson, Tenn., and one of the largest design-builders of distribution facilities in the country, serves as the general contractor.
“We’re responsible for the full design and construction of the facility, with about 40 people employed in our architect and engineering office,” said Senior Project Manager James Kirkland. “Beginning with concept development and designed around the material handling system designed and installed by Hy-Tek, H&M provided full-service design services for all the major trades, including civil, architectural, structural, electrical and mechanical.
H&M then competitively bid out the trades for Tractor Supply, and is currently managing all construction sub-contractors on the site.”
According to Kirkland, “Our first priority is always safety, and ensuring a safe project site for all construction personnel is always an important and primary task. As with most other projects these days, the schedule is the biggest challenge. All critical path activities must be carefully and thoughtfully coordinated from the beginning to the end. We rely heavily on all team members on the project making reliable commitments to one another, and we track the timely completion of these tasks on a daily and weekly basis.
“The facility is a conventional steel building with a single-ply TPO roof and cast on-site tilt-up concrete walls. It’s designed structurally to accommodate all equipment needs, and has state-of-the-art ventilation, including HVLS fans. It incorporates windows in the warehouse walls for day lighting, and it utilizes energy efficient lighting and HVAC motors. It also includes support offices, and parking for nearly 400 trailers,” stated Kirkland.
The project involves moving more than 200,000 yds. (182,880 m) of dirt, with more than 20,000 cu. yds. (15,291 cu m) of concrete placed. Several hundred workers have been on the job throughout construction, with a peak of more than 150 during the busiest sequences of construction.
“Early on, a number of days were lost due to rain during the major site work operations,” said Kirkland, “but the lost days have not affected the overall project schedule. Once the pad is stabilized, much of the weather risk is minimized. Once the roof is on, nearly all of the weather risk is avoided.”
Kirkland added, “It’s really hard to grasp the size of these modern distribution facilities — 650,000 square feet is about 15 acres under roof. Modern distribution facilities allow tall storage and multiple levels of workers in pick modules, which makes the footprint of the buildings a lot smaller than they could be otherwise, or would have been prior to the advancement in technology.”
Georgia Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, the chairmen of the Macon-Bibb County Industrial Authority and the Bibb County Board of Commissioners joined Tractor Supply executives at groundbreaking ceremonies for the new facility, which will be located in the I-75 Business Park along Frank Amerson Jr. Parkway. The distribution center is expected to employ a significant number of workers when fully operational, and represents a capital investment of more than $50 million.
“It’s an exciting project that’s taking shape in our community at this time,” added Maceo Rogers, executive director of the Macon-Bibb County Industrial Authority. “What this distribution center will mean to Macon/Bibb County and the middle Georgia region, including Bibb, Crawford, Jones, Monroe and Twiggs counties is jobs. The project will bring $58 million in new investment, and create 200 new jobs. Tractor Supply Company has already created many construction jobs, followed by those for the actual operations of the center itself.
Rogers explained, “The ripple effect will create jobs in other local businesses such as food, clothing, health care, services, etc., which will be a great financial boost for the economy. Once the facility is operational, a minimum of 332 direct and indirect jobs are expected to be created as a result of this investment.
“Macon/Bibb is well positioned to attract new investment opportunities because of its excellent location, transportation infrastructure, colleges and universities, cost of doing business and its available workforce. We focus on targeted industries — advanced manufacturing, aerospace, food processing, shared services, distribution/warehousing, automotive, etc. — that studies show are right for this community, and that will have a sustainable economic impact for this area. It’s important that companies like Tractor Supply Company take a look at areas such as middle Georgia, because of our industrial parks, our creative approach towards incentive design, ease of doing business, proximity to major markets, such as Atlanta, Warner Robins Air Force Base and the uniqueness of the community as a whole.”
Sandfort added “We appreciate the hard work of the county and state officials who helped us through the process. Macon’s central location offers many benefits to the company and our vendors, now and in the future. We anticipate a very productive business partnership with the community.”
Tractor Supply Company operates more than 1,100 stores in 44 states. Its stores supply products to recreational farmers and ranchers. It also serves the maintenance needs of tradesmen and small businesses. Tractor Supply Company’s stores are located in the outlying towns in major metropolitan markets and in rural communities. The business, which offers merchandise for the care of horses, livestock and pets, also supplies agricultural products and sells light truck equipment, work clothing and a line of lawn and garden power equipment products.