By Don Talend
Whenever infrastructure has come up as a political topic in recent years, it’s assumed to mean large, publicly funded projects:interstate highways, municipal water systems, dams and ports. But an anticipated flood of construction activity in this sector has a trickle-down effect. Construction owners that support infrastructure functions—such as transportation—sense opportunities and invest private funds in their own projects.
Experienced contractors are doing their part to support expected larger-scale highway, rail and aviation improvements—one project at a time. They are leveraging technology in response to trends in these sectors, but have not lost sight of the fact that contracting remains a relationship-based and customer service-oriented and business.
Truck Terminals Bolster E-commerce
For Ladson, S.C.-based Frampton Construction, truck terminals offer high value because of the critical role they serve in an evolving consumer economy. Keaton Green, director, reports that as e-commerce companies such as Amazon continue to disrupt traditional retail by giving consumers ever-increasing convenient and rapid access to goods, trucking companies are faced with delivering those goods to the customer faster than ever. Truck terminals function as intermediate transfer points between the manufacturer and the customer and add flexibility to the supply chain.
Even though online ordering is so convenient for consumers, trucking companies still need to ship physical inventory. In this just-in-time retail environment, truck terminal location is more important than ever.
“The more terminals trucking companies have, the more logistics they have and the more they can grow,” Green says. “A lot of our work is not only renovating these terminals, but also adding onto them because land is so valuable.”
A family-owned company that rebranded under new leadership in 2015, Frampton Construction primarily serves the Southeast. The company has renovated and expanded several terminals for Lexington, S.C.-based Southeastern Freight Lines in the past several years.
Recently, Frampton Construction built its first new terminal for the freight company, the 45-door Southeastern Freight Lines-Waynesboro terminal, near Interstate 81 in Mt. Crawford, Va. The 17,848-square-foot pre-engineered metal building features 13,630 square feet of terminal freight dock with 45 dock doors, 90 trailer parking spaces, a 4,218-square-foot employee office with a brick veneer and 55 employee parking spaces. Around the same time, Frampton Construction began work on a dock expansion for a Southeastern Freight Lines terminal in Fredericksburg, Va., that will more than double the number of doors to 77 when completed in early 2018.
Building a new terminal is easier than renovating an existing one. “Right now, the whole trucking industry is making sure existing terminals are right for their employees, seeing if they can expand on what they have and if they can find land that works for their logistics,” Green says.
“We have improved in terms of how we think about site logistics, planning, communication with terminal managers, signs we put onsite, technology and commitments from our subcontractors,” Green says. “It’s critical that we maintain our communication throughout and make sure we’re not disrupting workflow.”
Frampton Construction’s philosophy is to challenge the status quo on every project. Green explains that’s why the Waynesboro truck terminal has office and lounge spaces that make it more attractive for employees and drivers than other facilities.
Breaking past paradigms includes leveraging technology such as the Procore project management information system, drones and new approaches to solving problems.
“We’re using everything that our team has collectively bought into to make sure that we’re being efficient, but also overachieving on our owners’ expectations,” Green says. “Instead of a superintendent trying to upload photos on his laptop so we can send them to the owner, he’s taking photos from his phone and dropping them into Procore. The efficiency ramps up, the owners see the professionalism and we exceed expectations.”