Working Through Brutal Weather

“It was one thing after another. One storm after another. We built this mill through two hard winters and a very rainy summer,” says Jim Haack, Senior Project Manager at Interstates. The Cooperative Farmers Elevator (CFE) mill in Ocheyedan, IA, is the company’s largest capital project ever and one of the largest mills in Iowa. Despite constant, weather-related setbacks, Interstates delivered a successful project to CFE and learned some lessons along the way.

The goal of the project was to build a new feed mill to replace several smaller CFE mills. Karl Pittmann, Project Manager at Sioux City-based Younglove Construction, says that before heavy snow came and hindered progress, the project was off to a great start in November 2017 with the pouring of the slip. “The size of the slip form was unique on this project,” he says. Jim Haack adds, “It was a three-part concrete slip. As it moved up, our team had to plan out exactly how to break temp power each time a section of form was dropped off while keeping the rest of the slip powered.”

Because of the brutal winter, construction schedules were inevitably impacted. The pressure mounted to complete the work more quickly. “We had five main buildings with three cutoffs that had to be accomplished within a 12-hour window, along with all of the bin bottom beams,” says Pittmann. All the weather delays resulted in the project taking almost four extra months to finish.

Rob Jacobs, CEO at CFE, was impressed with the outcome and the hard work and perseverance displayed. “Over 95% of the delays can be attributed to the weather. Younglove and Interstates did an outstanding job supplying manpower and the expertise needed to complete this project. I’m very happy with their professionalism, communication, and the skills they brought to the table,” he says.

There was a lot that went well on the CFE project. “Checkout was virtually flawless. We only had a few small items to troubleshoot in the end, so that Cooperative Farmers Elevator, Ocheyedan, IA was a big win for the entire Owner and Construction Teams,” says Haack. Younglove and Interstates were able to check out all equipment in under two weeks, allowing CFE to move into feed production during the third week. Haack and Trevor Koll, Foreman at Interstates, were also able to use the InterTrak scheduling system to give CFE and Younglove a visual update of how the work was progressing.

Lessons were learned about weather delays, but the result was a success for CFE. The mill can produce 3,000 tons of mash and pelleted feed per day and, according to Jacobs, will have a long-term positive effect on CFE’s patrons and the surrounding community.

Haack sums it up: “This project was well planned out. The finished product is very nice looking and very functional – you can see the quality of work from the Team that CFE and Younglove assembled for this project. In the end, the project ended on a very high note and we were very appreciative to have been a part of it.”