Forbes Candies Sweetens Its Virginia Beach Operation

Fri November 01, 2002 - Southeast Edition
Angela B. Hurni

S.B. Ballard Construction Company and Forbes Candies Inc., both Virginia Beach-based companies, have negotiated a $900,000 contract to build Forbes Candies’ new candy factory, offices and expanded retail outlet. S.B. Ballard will provide the design, development and construction services for the new 20,000-sq.-ft. (1,858 sq m) building.

The present factory, built in 1969, is currently located off Lynnhaven Parkway in Virginia Beach. The company is relocating 4.5 mi. (7.2 km) to a 1.8 acre (.73 ha) lot in the new Oceana West Industrial Park at the corner of London Bridge Road and Taylor Farm Road, also in Virginia Beach. Forbes will be the first building in the Oceana West Industrial Park development, which is positioned next to Naval Air Station Oceana. The landowners are a combination of the city and the Taylor family.

According to J. Keith Green, project director of S.B. Ballard, there are more buildings to come in the development.

“We have been discussing with two other firms that are here local that are looking at moving into the area,” said Green. “One group has already purchased six acres, and another group we’re helping look into purchasing some land over there right now.”

The new Forbes building is being constructed of tilt-up concrete. Using concrete forms, S.B. Ballard makes all of the concrete panels at the job site. The company has erected 31 panels, each the same size: 20 by 25 ft. (6 by 7.5 m). In the end, 15,500 surface sq. ft. (1,440 sq m) of concrete wall will be erected. A Manitowoc 777T, 200-ton (180 t) crane with a 150-ft. (46 m) lift boom has been rented from E.T. Gresham of Virginia Beach to install the tilt-up concrete panels.

The greatest benefit of tilt-up concrete, according to Green, “is that you can create the shell of your building in a small amount of time.” Crews began erecting the tilt-up panels at 9 a.m. one morning in September, and they had half the building erected at lunch time. By the same time the following day, all of the wall of Forbes Candies were standing.

“Within a nine-day cycle we went from having absolutely no exterior walls to having all exterior walls,” exclaimed Green.

Green said he looks forward to tilt-up concrete being more common in buildings in the future. His company is pushing the concept because of the ease of installation and the aesthetics of the product. Green confirmed that along the East Coast, especially in new industrial parks, companies are pushing for the tilt-up concrete product.

“A lot of the city councils are getting involved in how areas look these days,” said Green. “They’re trying to get away from metal buildings. They’re trying to get to a better looking building. Concrete is the way to do it.”

Concrete is especially advantageous for the location of Forbes Candies’ new building, which is situated next to NAS Oceana and under the flight path of the F-14 and F/A-18 fighter jets.

“With all the sound from the jets, 7 in. of concrete wall blocks out a lot of that jet noise,” confirmed Green.

As the crane and rigging subcontractor, E.T. Gresham sets up the crane used to install the panels, and it also provides the operator. S.B. Ballard and Gresham work together as a crane and lift team.

E.T. Gresham’s help will be solicited once again in order to move the 40,000-lb. (18,144 kg) corn syrup tank, which is going to require the use of a 28-ton (25.4 t) crane. Moving the tank will be a complicated process involving cutting a hole in the wall at the existing factory, lifting the tank up with pallet jacks, sliding rollers under it, and rolling it out of the hole in the wall.

The crane will then pick it up and put on a flat bed truck, where it will be hauled to the new facility. E.T. Gresham will put the tank on rollers and roll it into its new spot on top of a 12-in. (30.5 cm) thick slab that has been made to support it.

Green said that the main overhead door in the receiving area has been designed large enough to accept the tank. This is important because the candy factory must stay in operation up until Christmas. The new facility will be finished by Christmas, and when the holidays are over, everything will be disconnected and moved to the new building.

As the general contractor, S.B. Ballard subcontracts out everything on the job with the exception of the concrete work, because the company has its own concrete division, and the rough carpentry work, which also is handled in-house.

In addition to E.T. Gresham, S.B. Ballard employs 20 to 25 different subcontractors. The key subcontractors are: McCallum Testing Laboratories, conducting all the concrete and structural steel testing; Advance Electric Co., providing the electrical design and installation; Myers Plumbing and Heating Inc., providing plumbing design and installation; Davken Inc., supplying the mechanical design and installation. All the companies are based in Virginia Beach. S.B. Ballard prefers to have local companies perform the work.

“We’ve developed so many local relationships with people,” said Green. “We take advantage of that.”

The city of Virginia Beach also has played a crucial role in getting the project organized and on track.

“The city of Virginia Beach, especially the economic development department, has been just fantastic to work with on this job,” stated Green. “They’ve actually helped make a lot of this happen too.”

The architectural services are being provided by Ansell Collins Astrin Architects; structural engineering by Sinclair Pratt Cameron; and civil engineering by Spectra Group.

Green prefers to work on a design, develop and construct project because the team is unified.

“You’re unifying your construction team, your development team and your design team all in one package,” Green explained. “I call it the three C’s. You have your codes and CADs, which is your design, your architects and your engineers. You have your construction, which is your general contractor, and you have your client, the owner.”

Another unique part of the Forbes Candies’ building is the design and construction of three separate areas that must maintain three different temperatures. The artic chocolate room will be isolated from all other rooms with its own heating and cooling system. In order for the chocolate to stay hard, the room must maintain a temperature of a cool 60 to 65 degrees. On the other hand, the taffy storage room must sustain a temperature of 70 to 75 degrees using its own independent heating and cooling system plus a dehumidification system to take moisture out of the air. In between these two rooms is the taffy making area, which must have a consistent temperature of 70 degrees so that the employees are comfortable.

In addition to the separate heating and cooling systems, the new building will have three isolated water tanks. There will be two hot-water tanks, including a 25-gal. (95 L) tank for personal water usage and a 50-gal. (189 L) tank for recirculation of hot water throughout the building for candy-making purposes. The third water tank also will be 50 gal. (189 L), and will contain potable water use for drinking and washing dishes. The new facility will feature a 5-ft. (1.5 m) deep retention pond with a 30-ft. (9 m) radius, required by the city, which will filter all the water on the property before it enters the city water system.

One of the goals the owner and design team have for the new facility is to make it look similar to the old facility. The retail outlet will be expanded, and the existing mill work and case work will be transferred to the new store.

“It will be just like their old retail outlet but bigger,” said Green, “so when you walk in, it will be like walking into the old one. All of the outlets look the same, and we’re trying to keep it that way.”

Keeping with Forbes’ color scheme, the single-story building will have an exterior painted in polar white with a series of four red racing stripes that run horizontal to the ground. There also will be a red roof at the entrance and a red wavy canopy. The roof is going to be a SureWeld System Membrane Roof installed by Roof Systems of VA Inc. of Norfolk and Richmond.

After ground breaking, 1,500 cu. yds. (1,140 cu m) of unusable dirt had to be hauled away. One hundred eighty-five truck loads containing 1,600 cu. yds. (1,216 cu m) of porous sand was hauled to the site to refill the whole project.

Standard equipment, like excavators and backhoes, have been used on the job. The site is fairly small, so large pieces of equipment would be difficult to use. On the east side of the property stands a line of trees; one goal of the project is to keep as many trees standing as possible, which is what the owner requested.

“At one point we were using an excavator that was not as big as my desk,” said Green. “We left a tree standing that was 7 in. from the corner of the building. That’s how tight we got it.”

Green said the project is on schedule within two days, which has Ballard very excited because it wrote the schedule in January. It has not fluctuated over a week. The lack of rain helped the company stay on schedule.

“Rain would have killed us, which is why we wanted to go tilt-up,” stated Green. “The walls are up within nine days; we can get the roof on within five days. You’re basically in the clear when the company comes to put in the windows.”

After the building and parking lot are finished, $26,000 worth of landscaping will be planted. “It’s going to be gorgeous,” said Green.

Founded in the 1930s, Forbes Candies is one of the city’s oldest manufacturers. The company has three stores in Virginia Beach, two at the Outer Banks of North Carolina and one at the present factory.

“We’ll be glad to get the move behind us, but we’re excited about moving over there,” said Bill Lawton, owner since 1987 and son-in-law of the late Charlie Forbes, the company’s founder.