It’s impossible to miss the new 94,500-square-foot structure on the ever-growing FarmTek campus in Dyersville, and the work that will go on inside it will help the company meet current industry needs and leave the door open for future expansion.
The ClearSpan Beam Building is the product of a $10 million expansion and adds manufacturing I-beams into the company’s mix.
“Over the past few years we’ve been investigating and learning about new ways to manufacture while keeping with the same product line as our tension-fabric building that we’re kind of known for,” said Rob Blush, engineering, design and construction manager. “I-beam is just a different type of frame that you can make a building out of.”
He explained the decision to expand in this direction came after a lot of research. “We decided we wanted to invest in the equipment to manufacture a building using a beam frame mainly because of the automation of it.”
Blush said there were also advantages from the standpoints of engineering, material handling, purchasing and manufacturing. “We can reduce costs and increase speed, which is what our company is all about.”
Research and planning also went into deciding the optimal location on the sprawling campus upon which to erect the structure. Inside the building is a partially automated manufacturing line that will create the I-beam shape. “That, alone, is close to $3 million of equipment,” Blush said. The building was laid out in a manner that best allowed them to accommodate the necessary equipment.
The fully insulated building is divided into three internal bays. The first bay includes the automated line, the second bay is where welding and painting of the I-beams take place, and the third bay is for offices and further expansion.
With the added space and added equipment comes the need for hiring additional employees. “Right now, probably an additional 10-20 positions is what it’s creating,” said Martina Bockenstedt, general manager at FarmTek. “We’re always in a hiring phase,” Blush added, “so it’s hard to put a number on what the project created for jobs.”
Nobody at FarmTek expects or wants it to be the last time the company expands. “This is the latest of an evolution of our product line,” said Bockenstedt. “As we see where demand is domestically or internationally, that’s what we want to evolve the product into.”