A Team Driven to Win

New Fashion Pork (NFP), based in Jackson, MN, has pork production operations in seven states across the Midwest. In order to supply its nearby hog facilities, NFP decided to build a new feed mill in Round Lake, MN. Interstates provided the full gamut of services for this project, an integrated approach called DB3. Harsh weather and tight site constraints were problematic, but an excellent crew and open communication led to a successful project outcome.

Des Moines-based Weitz was the general contractor, and Interstates brought together all its various groups to build this mill. “It was a really nice project because we were able to utilize all the different talents in our company,” says Nate Fossell, Assistant Project Manager at Interstates. He explains, “This was one of our DB3 projects, which means design build services plus three areas of expertise: power and controls engineering, automation programming and development, and electrical construction work. I think our value lies in being able to take all these disciplines and put them under one hat.”

Fossell says the DB3 approach is the smartest choice for customers. “It lets us integrate planning, scheduling, and all the work as a team, which really saves the customer time and money in the long run. It avoids conflicts and allows us to be efficient time-, money-, and construction-wise,” he says.

Unfortunately, progress on the mill was constantly challenged by adverse weather conditions. “Mother Nature was driving against this project. There was a terrible wind and rain storm during the slip pour, but once you start that process, you can’t stop. The team had to push through severe weather as safely as possible to get the job done,” says Jim Haack, Senior Project Manager at Interstates.

A hard winter followed, causing delays that would have been worse if not for some proactive scheduling decisions. According to Haack, “We were very selective about what areas we worked in on harsh weather days.” To maximize indoor workspace, Interstates used an available warehouse on site to execute tasks that would keep them on schedule. “We were able to do a lot of fabrication in that warehouse, out of the elements,” says Terry Williams, Foreman at Interstates.

Haack sees this project’s challenges as opportunities. “Dealing with weather challenges and site constraints is more than just throwing people at it. We had to ask, how can this make us better and more efficient? Challenges can make you grow, and I think this project had that effect,” he says.

Minor setbacks couldn’t keep a good crew down. “We built a strong relationship with Weitz right up front. The communication was great and both sides were helpful to each other,” says Williams.

“There was a lot more going well here than not,” says Haack. “We had a great crew with probably some of the best teamwork I’ve seen in over 25 years. There was no trade stacking to speak of because we always checked our schedules with Weitz and solved any problems together. From the superintendents to the lowest apprentice – everyone knew each other’s names and there was a lot of camaraderie. There was a big drive to win, on several fronts, and this crew made it happen. I wish I had 10 jobs just like this one,” he says.

Upon completion in June 2019, NFP’s new mill will produce 150,000 tons of feed per year – approximately 23 full semi loads per day – which will feed the hogs at its facilities within 90 miles of Round Lake.