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Getco Ltd. Treats Itself to New Digs Outside Atlanta

Wed June 28, 2000 - Southeast Edition
Randy Southerland

Jeff Nalley, president of Atlanta-based Getco Ltd., realized a long time ago that his company badly needed a newer, larger home for its expanding ground-engaging tool distribution business. As one of the nation’s largest independent wholesale distributors of bucket teeth, adapters and fasteners for the industrial and construction machinery industry, the 4,800 square feet of space in its suburban Gwinnet County facility just wasn’t enough. So the company began looking for a site in 1998 that could give them the elbow room they needed.

Getco found it 25 miles northeast of Atlanta in rural Hall County within the small town of Oakwood. Construction on a 26,400- square-foot facility was completed in late February just in time for the company to move in offices and inventory during March. The facility represents a major step forward for the growing company.

“As one of the partners in our building put it, ’it’s an elegance that we’re unaccustomed to,’ ” said Nalley as he surveyed the cavernous, but still empty warehouse facility. He noted that within a few weeks trucks would be arriving to set up heavy racking systems on which Getco’s inventory of thousands of pounds of bucket teeth, adapters, and fasteners will be stored.

Getco, founded in 1984, supplies replacement parts for such well-known manufacturers as Caterpillar, Deere, Komatsu, New Holland, Daewoo, Case, Fiat, and others, from its main facility as well as satellite distribution warehouses in Denver, CO, and Toronto, Canada.

The facility will increase the company’s capacity by a factor of four and better serve the Getco’s more than 600 construction, industrial and mining equipment dealers throughout the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico, and Mexico. Getco will occupy the lion’s share of the building with the rest going to CAB Inc., a pipe fittings specialist.

Finding land for a new facility that was within Getco’s budget was not easy. The company looked at a number of locations closer to its old home, but none met their needs.

“We looked at several sites in Gwinnet [County], but when we went in and did the core drilling there was a bunch of fill,” Nalley remarked. “They had junk, trash, and trees buried there. It had not been compacted properly. It was going to be on septic, but just wouldn’t perk for septic. So we went out and found a piece of property out in South Hall [County] that was being rezoned industrial.”

The pre-engineered steel frame building was constructed in just under four and a half months by Lawrenceville, GA-based Garrard Construction Group — a specialist in corporate office and light industrial construction. More than 37.8 metric tons (42 tons) of red iron steel and sheeting went into the construction of the building, but the most interesting feature is the 25.4 centimeter, 276 bar (10 in. 4,000 psi) concrete floor. Strengthened with No. 4 reinforcing bars, the floor is designed to withstand “running a tank over it,” said company partner Jim Garrard.

“That is pretty stout for a slab, but that’s what it took to support their loads,” he added, noting that a team of structural engineers had specified the thickness of concrete for the floor.

Each four-section racking system holds nearly 14,515 kilograms (32,000 lbs.) of inventory. The rack’s four metal legs will place tremendous weight on the floor below, demanding an extraordinarily strong foundation.

“We also had to design with the knowledge that their forklift would be carrying as much as 8,000 pounds around with the tire wheel base and all the wear and tear that would produce,” said Garrard.

“One thing I learned on this job is it’s not necessarily the total amount of weight. The most important factor is the loading and unloading of it — the stress that you cause and the fatigue that you wear into the concrete.”

Garrard noted that cracking of the flooring was most likely to occur between the racking systems.

“Underneath the racking system it’ll crack on the bottom side of the slab, but between it will crack on the top surface,” he explained. “It was a challenge to overcome. They wanted to make sure they had a solid floor.”

The builders also had to contend with the installation of a 4.5-metric-ton (5 ton) Jibb crane, whose single arm pull hoist will be used to move steel around.

“It had to be designed into the building so that the structure could take the loads,” Garrard said. “They deal with a very heavy product that they move at great heights. It’s a very dangerous operation that has to be designed properly.”

Getco’s site in Oakwood is a study in transition. Just past the new structure with its large glass windowed front, are houses and farms that have occupied that section of rural North Georgia for generations. A little further down the narrow road that crosses over Interstate 985, the spires of other industrial buildings stand out against the landscape.

Nalley is sensitive to the fact that not all his neighbors might be glad to see another industry moving into their backyards. To maintain good relations he agreed not to expand the building any further back from the loading dock and to keep a stand of trees that creates a natural buffer between his building and the homes.

In its new home, this big city company is determined to be a good neighbor.

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