Hormann employs unique building methods in new facility

Photo credit: Brent Edwards

By Michelle Price
UCBJ Managing Editor

SPARTA – About 25 people gathered Saturday morning to witness a sight rarely seen in the Upper Cumberland – 30 exhaust fans being lifted by helicopter to the roof of the Hormann plant under construction next to the Upper Cumberland Regional Airport. 

“In my career, this is the second time I have had a helicopter lift, so it doesn’t happen often,” said Brent Edwards, senior project manager with T.W. Frierson Contractor, Inc. (Frierson). “The first time was actually the StonePeak tile plant (in Crossville).”

One of the 30 exhaust fans is airlifted to the roof of the Hormann facility.

The helicopter lift was coordinated by Jeb Stuart with Carwile Mechanical Contractors of Cookeville, the company that is installing the mechanical items for the new facility. It’s not something Carwile typically does in the U.C. either. Stuart stated that this was the first one he remembered in the eight years he has worked for the company.

“It’s typically more expensive to use a helicopter, but we do save a lot of man hours,” said Stuart. “I think from the time the helicopter took off until we set the final fan was 70 minutes, where if we had cranes, we would have been out there two long days maybe three days. It’s more expensive but sometimes it makes more sense also depending on the building.”  

Edwards explained that several reasons went into the choice of a helicopter lift for this project. 

“The reason we did it instead of a crane is we have a permit – because of how close we are to the airport – we have to have a permit for our crane, and it’s set at 199 feet. The mechanical contractor said they were going to need 280 feet or something like that,” said Edwards. “It was more difficult to go back to the FAA and amend the permit than it was to talk to Dean (Selby) over at the airport and get a heli-lift approved.”

The heli-lift required a lot of coordination between Carwile and Frierson. Frierson was required to clear the site and remove any debris that could be blown about by the air from the rotors of the helicopter. They also had to have the trash dumpsters and porta potties removed so that they would not blow over.

The procedure is still very labor intensive. 

“There were six people on the ground. Four hooking it up and one safety spotter and the guy talking to the pilot,” explained Griffin Jones, Frierson construction superintendent. “There’s six guys on roof, four unhooking it and two safety spotters. They are setting 30 exhaust fans on the roof with each taking between 2-3 minutes.”

Hormann is a German company that manufactures garage doors and the company is putting some of their innovative design style into their building. 

“The office areas are in the pumpkin color and the plant will be blue,” said Edwards. “Those are the company colors for Hormann. It’s 330,000 square feet with about 300,000 square feet manufacturing space. There are five overhead bridge cranes in the building to help move coils of steel and some of the process equipment and there’s a building behind featuring a water tank with a fire pump.”

“It’s quite frankly a higher level of design than we typically see in an industrial facility,” added Edwards. “This wall panel for example is pretty fancy stuff. They’ve got some other really nice upgrades. The wall panel is a 3-inch sandwich panel, so it has coated steel facings on the inside and outside and inside is three inches of polyurethane, so it’s very similar type product to what they will manufacture in the building for sectional doors. 

“Some doors are pan steel and rigid insulation that is built up and some are a polyurethane expansion foam that goes between two layers of steel and creates a sandwich panel, so very similar product to what they will manufacture in the building for garage doors but it’s an insulated metal wall panel. We have a horizontal panel on the office and a vertical panel on the plant.” 

The contractors are trying to get it enclosed within the next two months and being completed by the end of February is their target right now.

“I think it’s just awesome to see an owner take, I don’t want to say a chance with color, but so many of our industrial buildings are modest in Tennessee and this region, off whites…I’ve traveled enough in Europe to see that this is kind of the trend,” shared Edwards. “This is what they do. Lots of bright colors on their buildings in Europe and on their modern industrial buildings. What I think that tells everybody is that they are going to be here awhile. You don’t build something like this and then check out in five years. They are doing some significant upgrades and just the color alone is, I don’t want to say it’s daring, but probably a little unconventional for our market.”

“We’re very excited about this,” added White County Mayor Denny Wayne Robinson. “This is going to affect the citizens of White County for the next 50 to 60 years. I don’t think people realize what a gem this is going to be for our community. It’s a $65 million investment. Even adjusted for inflation, this is the largest investment ever in White County. 

“They are going to start out with about 200 employees. We’re hoping it continues to grow and gets up maybe to be one of our largest employers if not the largest.”

Hormann is currently taking applications on their website, https://www.hormann.us/careers/positions-available/ and has the following notice posted online: 

“If you are applying for a job in our new Sparta, TN location, we are currently expecting a late spring 2020 start-up for the production facility.  Although certain technical or specialized positions may be filled much sooner, we expect the majority of jobs to be filled closer to the facility’s opening.  We thank you for your patience in understanding our timeline and your interest in joining our team.  We will keep your information and resume on file and contact you when an opening for someone of your qualifications becomes available.”

Michelle Price is the managing editor of the Upper Cumberland Business Journal and can be reached via email. Send an email.

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