T.W. Frierson Contractor Inc. – Polaris Industries Manufacturing Plant

TW Frierson pic

T.W. Frierson Contractor and its partners completed Polaris Manufacturing's first southern U.S. Facility on an accelerated schedule.

By Jim Harris

T.W. Frierson Contractor Inc.'s long history of self-performing projects, as well as its experience with pre-engineered building systems, made it the ideal building partner for one of the world's largest vehicle manufacturers.

The Nashville-based company in April expects to turn over the final completed portions of a 775,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Huntsville, Ala., for Polaris Manufacturing Inc. The facility will be the first in the southern United States for the Medina, Minn.-headquartered Polaris, a global leader in the design and production of snowmobiles as well as all-terrain, sport utility and recreational vehicles.

Construction on the facility started in May 2015. The project was a joint design/build effort between T.W. Frierson and architect Design Constructors, Inc., the contractor's in-house architectural firm. Doug Wilkening and Craig Polancich were the project architects working on the facility's design. The T.W. Frierson construction team is led by Senior Project Manager John French as well as the Project’s General Superintendent Tommy Manley, Superintendent Jason Watson and Safety Coordinator Ronnie Bush.

“We were selected for this project in part for our capability to respond to the fast schedule, as well as our ability to self-perform concrete, tilt-up concrete walls, structural steel and a standing seam roof,” T.W. Frierson Senior Vice President David Bockian says.

T.W. Frierson also worked closely with Design Systems Builders, a wholly owned subsidiary of the company that specializes in the installation of pre-engineered systems by Butler Manufacturing, Inc. The Design Systems Builders team working on the project includes Project Managers Guy Harris and Matthew Howell and Project Superintendent Alan Quam. In terms of sales volume, T.W. Frierson has “been the largest Butler builder in the country four times in the past 12 years,” Bockian adds.

Founded in 1958, and based in Nashville, Tennessee, T.W. Frierson specializes in developing and building industrial complexes, institutional facilities, distribution centers and senior living facilities in the eastern half of the United States.

An All-in-One Facility

The new Polaris facility will house several manufacturing processes including vehicle assembly, chassis and body painting, welding, fabrication and injection molding. The facility will initially produce Polaris' Ranger side-by-side utility vehicles. Ranger vehicles feature a pickup truck-like storage bed in their back, making them ideal for use in construction, farming and other industries. “They will perform the whole manufacturing process here, from receiving raw materials to shipping out finished vehicles,” Bockian says.TW Frierson

T.W. Frierson and Design Constructors, Inc. worked closely with Polaris Operations Project Director Keith Otterstatter during the design process. “Design Constructors has been very creative when it comes to working with Polaris to solve design issues,” he adds. The contractor and client worked together to fit 85,000 square feet of administrative and staff spaces such as a cafeteria into the building while maximizing the space available for manufacturing.

The single-story facility includes a 40,000-square-foot mezzanine that will house office and administrative functions, with the cafeteria and other staff spaces located beneath the mezzanine.

The entire building will be air conditioned. “We're not used to seeing that in industrial facilities of this size in the South,” he adds. “Polaris feels that, since they're spending time and resources training their workforce, they want them to stick around. Employees' comfort in the workplace is very important to them.”

In addition to the main manufacturing facility, T.W. Frierson was also contracted to build a 185,000-square-foot logistics center on land adjacent to the building. Work on the $10 million project started in February and will be completed in August. The building will be used to coordinate the receipt of raw materials or product components from other Polaris facilities or third-party vendors and will include warehouse, subassembly and other spaces.

A Smooth Process

T.W. Frierson and its partners worked closely with Polaris and process contractor TTX throughout the construction process. T.W. Frierson was tasked with meeting several deadlines for turning over key areas of the building, which would then be outfitted with manufacturing equipment. “Our biggest challenge was the schedule, which was very aggressive,” Bockian says. “Our theme from Polaris from day one was that they wanted to get these spaces up and available for equipment as soon as they could.”

The contractor coordinated its schedules with TTX in such a way that allowed the interiors to be built out while other portions of the building were still being placed and topped off. “Everything came together for us really well,” he adds. “Our goal was not to be a concern to them, but allow them to develop their process smoothly.”

T.W. Frierson also worked closely with subcontractors including electrical contractor CO Christian & Sons, mechanical contractor Comfort Group and sprinkler contractor Fire Protection Systems Inc.

This project is the first time T.W. Frierson has worked with Polaris. “I believe that they comfortable with how this project turned out, and we appreciate this new relationship,” Bockian notes.

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