Staying Ahead of the Game with Design-Build

July 13, 2023

Dollar General sought to build an 860,000-square-foot distribution facility in Blair, NE, to support more than 1,500 Dollar General stores in the Midwest with dry and fresh goods. Interstates, working for general contractor Clayco, provided Design-Build solutions on this project. Despite various delays and setbacks, Interstates displayed flexibility and resourcefulness to meet Dollar General’s goals and set them up to receive product on schedule.

Soil, Weather, and Supply Chains Require Flexibility

The facility was meant to be completed by early 2022. Soil issues discovered during early construction on the 85-acre site, however, delayed the project for almost a year. When work finally started, the January weather proved to be an obstacle. “Cold and windy weather prevented the steelworkers from getting steel put up ahead of our work,” says Joel Cook, Superintendent at Interstates. The Interstates team was ready to install conduit, wire, and lights; however, the roof was not installed on the facility due to weather and windy conditions, which made progress difficult.

“We adjusted and sent our team to our local office where they essentially jumpstarted the Omaha prefab shop,” says Britton Hulme, Project Manager at Interstates. Off-site prefab improves safety by removing work from the job site and saves money by reducing installation time. Items prefabricated for this project included 1,500 lighting brackets, in-wall rough-in assemblies, underground conduit stands, and trapeze supports for approximately 5,000 feet of cable tray.

Switchboard delays due to ongoing supply chain issues required some creative solutions. The gear was initially scheduled to arrive in June, then October, then February, then March. “When the delays became apparent, the client invested in temporary switchboards. This has allowed Dollar General to start receiving product at a normal capacity, and shipping will get to full capacity when the permanent switchboards are online,” says Hulme.

Project Expansion Taken in Stride

With delays early on, Dollar General had time to revisit its plans for the project, and the distribution center grew to a 1,100,000-square-foot facility with a combined 9000A utility service split between four services that included a large area for refrigerators and freezers. “Dollar General was adding product lines to other facilities and needed to expand this facility to meet new storage needs and add additional storage and pick modules to meet demand,” says Hulme.

According to Mike Van Es, Senior Project Leader at Interstates, a common theme on this project was quickly responding to changes to get accurate drawings issued as soon as possible. “Our collaboration with Clayco and ability to have a swift turnaround on pricing changes benefited this project and made it go well when the size and scope changed. It helps to be flexible on the schedule,” says Van Es.

Design-Build Proves Cost Effective

Having one company provide design and construction on this project made changes go smoothly. Instead of consulting several different contractors or engineering firms to update plans and find answers, the client benefits from having one source for solutions and guidance, saving time and money by avoiding rework or coordination issues. Hulme says, “Design-Build means we can work with the client to find the most cost-effective solutions. When the service on this project increased from 6000A to 9000A to cover the additional load, it became clear we needed to rework the location of the electric room. Our solution was to have a north electric room and a south electric room, which improved access and allowed the main power distribution to not be in the way of any racking or product lines.”

Cook says Interstates’ Design-Build responsibilities meant the general contractor never had to worry about who was doing what. “We were the ones driving the schedule and pushing to get into different areas and get ahead of the game, and we did it with high safety standards across the board,” he says. Despite the delays and changes to the size of the project, Interstates delivered an operational facility, and Dollar General is meeting its goals according to the original timeline.