Absolute Concrete Completes Massive Concrete Pours for Sterilite Facility
A new $110 million, 2.4 million-square-foot manufacturing and distribution operation on 160 acres adjacent to the Eastern Iowa Industrial Center in Davenport will boost the local economy and bring 500 new jobs in the next five years to the community, not including construction.
"This job is huge," says Eli Hartog, Project Manager for Absolute Concrete in Slater, Iowa. "After it is all said and done, everyone who has had a part in this beast will be able to take pride in the fact that we showed Davenport how a real crew pours concrete."
Sterilite of Townsend, Massachusetts, produces plastic items, everything from storage tubs to modular drawers. The company reports it is "the largest plastic housewares company in North America." It began in 1939 as a partnership between Saul and Edward Stone and Earl Tupper, who also founded Tupperware in the 1940s.
Sterilite made combs, toothbrush holders and other personal articles for the Armed Forces during World War II. It then started manufacturing toys, plastic giftware, and beverage and household containers.
The company now operates at several locations across the country. This summer, it plans to open in Davenport. It is estimated the economic affect on the region will be more than $143 million.
The Iowa Economic Development Authority Board provided more than $3 million in direct financial assistance and tax benefits from the High Quality Jobs program. Additionally, the city of Davenport is providing tax rebates for 15 years and has applied Revitalize Iowa's Sound Economy funding from the department of transportation to construct street and intersection improvements in the vicinity of the industrial center.
Harrison Walker & Harper of Paris, Texas, serves as the general contractor. The company was founded in 1887 and reports it is the oldest general contractor in Texas. It also has offices in Oklahoma. Harrison Walker & Harper has performed work in the past for Sterilite in Clinton, South Carolina; and Ennis, Texas.
Over 80 Acres of Concrete
This is the largest project Absolute Concrete has tackled, says Drew Roberts, Director of Estimating and Project Management for Absolute Concrete. The work includes about 15,000 linear feet of spread footings; 17,000 linear feet of wall; 2,515,840 square feet of slabs; 10,500 square feet of dock leveler pads; and 754 bollards.
Absolute Concrete was established in 1999 and is 100 percent employee owned. The company has grown from one three-man crew to more than 150 employees. It works in every region of Iowa, completing municipal, Iowa Department of Transportation, industrial, agricultural and commercial projects.
At the Sterilite site, there are four large buildings roughly 450 feet wide by 1,440 feet long with connectors between each building, Roberts explains. The site work is 806,500 square feet of 8-inch concrete paving, with an employee parking lot that is 165,800 square feet of 6-inch concrete paving.
"All together, there are 80 acres of concrete on the site," Hartog reports. "We have been setting records for concrete pours out here. We are trying to keep that running."
For instance, one day, Absolute Concrete had a 1,800-cubic-yard pavement pour, a company record.
Concrete work began in June 2017, when Absolute Concrete started pouring in each of the four buildings 1,633 column pads. Crews finished the work in the fall. The project is slated for completion this summer.
"The Sterilite project has been nicknamed the black hole, a pretty fitting name," Hartog says. "Once you are here, you stay here. A majority of the weeks throughout September, the black hole has seen 10 foremen, four operators, three superintendents, and, most importantly, around 60 hardworking people putting in about 65 hours a week."
That is approximately 75 people working from before sun up until after sun down every day, he explains.
"Three crews are paving, three crews are pouring floors, two crews are finishing out foundations, and two crews are tarring as fast as they can just to keep up with the paving," Hartog reports. "If you look at the quantities, this job is no small feat. The drawings don't do this beast justice."
The manufacturing area has a 12-inch concrete slab to support the heavy machinery. In the office and warehouse areas the slabs are 4 inches thick and 5 inches thick, respectively.
There have been a few setbacks. A September storm shut down the job site for two days. And the north end of building one came down due to heavy winds and had to be rebuilt, says Gary Pennings, Superintendent for foundations for Absolute Concrete.
The Right Equipment and Supplies
Logan Contractors Supply in Des Moines provided the rebar on the project. It also provided Wacker Neuson ride-on power trowels, generators, double drum rollers; Dynapac single drum compactors; Multiquip walk-behind power trowels; Sullivan air compressors; Husqvarna early entry saws; Ermator vacuum systems; Indy Equipment power buggies; and other equipment.
"We go to Logan for almost everything," Hartog adds. "As far as customer service goes, the guys at Logan are top notch. They all know your name and are always running to help you. Literally running. Sometimes before you can get out of your truck, a guy will come running toward you, asking what you need."
Family-owned Logan Contractors Supply sells new and used equipment and rents. It also offers parts and service. It also has locations in Bettendorf, Iowa; Olathe, Kansas; and Omaha, Nebraska.
"We've been working with Absolute Concrete for more than a decade and the relationship has grown," says Nick Sinn, Branch Manager of Logan. "It is an outstanding company with outstanding leadership and outstanding staff. We are happy to partner with Absolute Concrete on projects."