Kenco Group Builds $12M Warehouse for General Mills in TN

Wed March 12, 2003 - Southeast Edition
Cynthia W. Wright

The Kenco Group, based in Chattanooga, TN, and operating in excess of 15 million sq. ft. of warehouse space in 19 states and Canada, has expanded in Wauhatchie, TN. The $23-million project, which straddles the state line of Georgia includes a 688,000-sq.-ft. $12-million warehouse that will store cereal. It has been designed with room for future expansion up to a million sq. ft. General Mills moved in as tenant in February.

As owner/developer, Kenco will play a role in economic development, and likely receive some leeway on property taxes.

Scott Austin, senior project manager of Conlan Company, the general contractor headquartered in Marietta, GA, recalled getting under way last September. “We got the contract for the building, and some remedial site improvements. We’re currently putting the roof on, and the tilt wall work will be finished by the end of November. We have to be dried in and CO’d by the end of this year. The building is tracking, weather permitting,” he said when being interviewed last November.

“We do our own concrete work, but we subbed out the majority of the project. One aspect that has been different for us is that Kenco Group has its own equipment rental division. They are basically renting us the majority of equipment on this project,” he added.

Doug Stein, owner of Stein Construction of Chattanooga, sold this project’s land — land which has been in his family since the 1960s.

“We’re in the grading business, and we’re doing the erosion control, drainage, and paving on the site, Stein noted. “However, I realized with this situation that there weren’t any contractors who would be able to meet the strict schedule demands of moving an astounding 30,000 yds. of dirt and rock per day. Good days for earthmoving are usually 10,000 yds. per day. I had negotiated a deal with Kenco Group based on my own company doing all the grading, which we do quite a bit of, but I decided to get somebody to help me with the shooting. Wright Brothers of Charleston, TN, gave us a price I couldn’t refuse. To facilitate matters, I decided to let them do all the earth work.”

Thoma Whitsitt, vice president of Wright Brothers, emphasized, “Stein Construction Company deserves credit for the job. They’re a terrific company.”

There is no disputing that Wright Brothers accomplished quite a feat. Whitsitt explained that 600,000 cu. yds. (458,733 cu m) of rock and 500,000 cu. yds. (382,277 cu m) of earth, with the cut on one end of the job being virtually all rock, gave the company almost all it could handle.

“The task was not only to move the dirt and rock quickly, but to move the rock first and to put the dirt on top so that plumbers, electricians and foundation diggers could work in a material that was suitable. We were to finish the job to the extent that the owner could start the building pad in 75 calendar days from the date we started — the 26th of July. We did in fact deliver the building pad 23 days early, allowing them to work on the building pad while we continued our job.

“Of course, that created an additional problem of having to drill and shoot while the general contractor is pouring concrete and the subs were digging ditches all around us. We attacked the rock hill first. We drilled and shot it,” Whitsitt said.

The company used Caterpillar 992 loaders and Caterpillar 375 excavators, and hauled the rock in Caterpillar 773 trucks and D400 six-wheel-drive articulated dump trucks. After a month into the job, Wright Bros. continued to move rock, and started to move the earth hill with Cat 651 and 641 scrapers. “We move about a million yds. a month,” he added.

By early winter, the first phase of the project was finished, and the company was doing a bit of add-on work. Wright Bros. moved the dirt with Caterpillar 650 and 641 scrapers.

Stein remarked, “This project takes up 49 acres. There is more land adjacent, so we may be working there again — hopefully with the same high-quality people.”