Cunningham-Limp Gives New Life to Abandoned Auburn Hills Building
General contractor Cunningham-Limp has finished a manufacturing facility in Auburn Hills, Michigan, for Louca Mold & Aerospace Machining and is now building an addition.
"The new owner came through and asked us to finish it up," says Mark Fedorinchik, Site Superintendent with Cunningham-Limp in Novi, Michigan. "This was a unique project."
The originally $13.5 million manufacturing facility on an 18.8-acre site at 1925 Taylor Road was started by another contractor as a 125,000-square-foot headquarters and manufacturing facility for Ralco Industries in 2013, for its wheelchair business. It was then abandoned for close to three years, with the steel structure standing and the roof. The concrete slab and windows for an office had been installed, and half of the exterior siding.
Developing a Feasible Work Plan
Louca Mold purchased the skeleton building, its third in the community, and will move aircraft and automotive automation into the structure, where workers will build assembly lines for customers. The company was founded in 1968 as a small machine shop for the automotive industry and has evolved into aerospace tooling for defense and commercial aerospace entities. Louca Mold currently employs about 230 people and expects that will increase to about 500 when the new facility is at full capacity. The company has received real property tax abatements for the project, according to city records.
The cost to complete the original project turned many potential purchasers away, Fedorinchik says. Cunningham-Limp worked with Louca Mold early on to evaluate and develop a feasible scope of work and budget to fit within Louca Mold's needs. This early intervention with Louca Mold caused the completion budget to decrease by nearly 20 percent from the original budgets. Cunningham-Limp received the contract from Louca Mold to complete the building and began work in June. The first thing Cunningham-Limp did was hire a consultant to evaluate prior construction and to assess for weather damage. The electrician audited the underground conduits.
"Once that was complete, we started on the building itself," says Steve Guidos, Project Engineer and Superintendent with Cunningham-Limp. "The weather had deteriorated the building a little bit, but nothing significant."
Cunningham-Limp hired some of the subcontractors involved in the original building to finish the work, which included completing site work; installing the electrical, plumbing, HVAC, doors and hardware, 800-lineal feet of windows and fire suppression equipment; and pouring more than 2,100 yards of concrete. That meant working with some new people.
One interesting aspect of the construction was installing a permanent, 100-foot long crane, which the owner will use to move equipment within the facility.
"It was quite the process," Fedorinchik reports. "In order to install the crane, we had to bring in specialized equipment to help us complete this complex task."
The initial project wrapped up in November 2016. Up to 70 people worked on the site daily to get it completed on time.
"I want to commend everybody for working hard, and getting this done on a very tight schedule," Fedorinchik says.
A New Addition
Louca Mold asked Cunningham-Limp to stay on and build a 25,000-square-foot addition on the back of the original building for additional manufacturing space. It is a masonry and metal building with a standing-seam roof.
"It will look just like the rest of the building," Fedorinchik says.
With all of the other construction going on in the vicinity, finding and recruiting an adequate number of skilled workers presented a challenge to the project, reports Guidos.
Subcontractor availability is currently an issue in the construction market. Cunningham-Limp uses its CLASS (Cunningham-Limp Assessment of Subcontractors and Suppliers) system to source subcontractors to address staffing needs in an already constrained market.
"It's been hard manning it up as needed," Guidos says. "We have had on average 40 to 50 guys here. To do this big of a project in five months is significant."
Fedorinchik echoes that opinion, explaining that Detroit, Grand Rapids and other areas of the state have been experiencing an uptick in construction activity.
"Construction is so busy around here," says Fedorinchik, who is not complaining. "The option of not having any work is worse than being too busy."
A Multi-Faceted Firm
Cunningham-Limp's history dates back to 1940s and was acquired in 1984 by the current ownership group. The company can handle everything from site selection to design and construction. Cunningham-Limp implements an integrated project delivery system that ensures that it only becomes involved in projects where the company can bring demonstrable value. Since 1984, Cunningham-Limp has worked closely with its clients to successfully complete projects totaling more than $1.5 billion in revenue and worked in 20 states. It has built its reputation on vetting and assembling expert teams to ensure a project is completed properly. Eighty-five percent of its work has come from past clients or referrals.
"Cunningham-Limp serves as the premier construction service provider in Southeast Michigan," Fedorinchik says.
The company has built projects within Auburn Hills, and every building within the Fieldstone Corporate Center, the commercial park where Louca Mold is located. It specializes in commercial and industrial work and has built more than 9 million square feet in these market sectors, including adaptive reuse and recycling of old facilities.
During its time serving Michigan, Cunningham-Limp has continued to expand its services in the market including medical office, educational and most recently building a senior living facility in St. Claire Shores.
Dependable Lift Equipment
Much of the heavy equipment for completing the manufacturing facility project came from Klochko Equipment Rental Co. of Melvindale, Michigan. The company began operations in 1951, when Stephen Klochko Jr. began a rental equipment company with an Oliver OC3, a trailer and a pickup truck. Since then, the company has consistently added to and modernized its rental fleet. It now operates out of three locations, and continues to value the family values and dedication to client satisfaction that the founder believed in.
In addition to rentals, Klochko offers in-stock parts, around-the-clock service and leasing and purchasing of new and pre-owned heavy equipment.
"They have good equipment, and everything is reliable," Guido says. "If something does happen, the response is really fast. And they are easy to work with."
This is Klochko's first project in the past couple of years for Cunningham-Limp, although it has worked for years with some of the subcontractors, including, Advantage Electric of Shelby Charter Township, Michigan, and Michigan Steel of Lake Orion, Michigan, says George Lucas, Area Field Representative for Klochko.
Klochko has at the industrial project a Skyjack 66T Straight Lift, Skyjack 86T, Genie 3020N Articulating Lift, Skyjack 3226 Scissor Lift and a 35/55 scissor lift, according to Lucas. The lifts are used for interior installations and exterior cladding.
"The building is 50-feet tall," Fedorinchik says. "Having access to everywhere, getting the siding, windows in and the fire suppression system. It was very important to have good, safe equipment. We couldn't do it any other way."