Bret Nehring (L), operations manager and owner of Nehring Construction with Logan Contractors Supply Sales Representative Tim Roberts.
Approximately six miles north of Des Moines in Polk County, Ankeny, Iowa, will soon be able to boast that it is home to the state’s second Mills Fleet Farm store. Ten years after the first one opened in Mason City, the new store will be the first in the metro-Des Moines area as it joins 31 other stores in Minnesota, Wisconsin and North Dakota.
Self-described as a “full service supplier for life, work, home and recreation,” Mills Fleet Farm was launched in 1955 by Stewart C. Mills and Sons Stewart Jr. and Henry when they opened the first Fleet Wholesale Supply in Marshfield, Wis., to sell merchandise directly to farmers. The name was changed to its current appellation in 1960 to symbolize fleet discounts.
The farm store itself is a spin-off of Mills’ automotive businesses, founded in Brainerd, Minn., when he purchased the Lively Auto Company, which sold Chevrolet and Hupmobile. Over the years, he added Ford-Lincoln-Mercury to the dealership’s lineup and opened Standard Parts Company stores (which later became NAPA) in 1946.
The 261,000 sq. ft. farm retail store, located on a 37.42-acre site west of Interstate Highway 35 and east of Southeast Delaware Avenue directly south of the current Fligg Fieldhouse facility, will feature a building for retail sales, warehouse space, a convenience store and fuel station, and a four-bay automatic car wash. Construction is expected to take a year to complete.
Aided by an Ankeny City Council policy to encourage new business investment and job creation during this tentative period as the economy stabilizes, Mills selected a bustling commercial location in a town where unemployment remains low at 3.4 percent. The Local Business Investment Policy, recently extended through Dec. 31, 2013, has been successful in its first two years, supporting at least 11 projects, creating or retaining 600 jobs and representing more than $122 million in investment.
Not only will the completed farm store create jobs that add to the growth of the community, but its construction also is fueling the local economy. General contractor on the job, Nehring Construction Inc., a family-owned concrete construction company in Des Moines, is expecting another record year. “We really haven’t had a downturn,” said Bret Nehring, owner and operations manager. “We’ve had quite a bit of work to bid on.”
Nehring Construction won the $1.5-2 million bid to construct the 300,000 sq. ft. main store building, the 5,000 sq. ft. convenience store, 5,000 sq. ft. car wash and 275,000 sq. ft. parking lot.
Specializing in all aspects of concrete-related work, since 2004 Nehring has performed flatwork such as slab on grade and slab on deck, site work including sidewalks, curb and gutter and paving, footings, foundations and poured walls.
Ahead of Schedule
Built on new ground that is fairly flat, site prep was easy according to Nehring because there was little need for much preparatory dirt work. “It’s a great site, perfect for a building site,” he said. “We moved minimal amounts of dirt because the location is a flat area.”
Begun July 31, 2012, during the middle of one of the nation’s worst droughts, work has progressed on schedule or slightly ahead of schedule due to the lack of rain. The project is expected to be completed in April 2013.
Even the record heat has had minimal impact on the timeline. “We made sure to keep the guys hydrated,” Nehring said, adding that they took the precaution of using a water tank to wet down the subgrade before each pour in order to keep the mixture from evaporating too quickly during long pours.
Work is approximately half-way finished, Nehring estimates. He expects to begin pouring footings and floors before the end of the year. In addition to the concrete needed for the buildings, the parking lot will require 500,000 sq. ft. (46,452 sq. m) of asphalt.
Nehring also credits good relationships with sub-contractors and suppliers such as Central Iowa Concrete, Logan Contractors Supply and Kustom Concrete Pumping, for keeping work on schedule. “Logan Contractors Supply has always been great to work with,” Nehring said. “We have used them for years and their product knowledge and support is fantastic. They are always there for us at any time.”
Materials Nehring acquired from Logan for the job include rebar, wire mesh and saw blades.
Equipment used on the job includes skid steers, compaction equipment, excavators, rollers, mini-skid steers, mini-excavators, soft cut saws, generators and drilling equipment. Nehring estimates that 15-20 workers are on site daily.
Nehring, who takes a hands-on approach with all the company’s projects, said this one is “really smooth. There have been no challenges, really. Everything is running smooth[ly].”
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