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Crate & Barrel sees stores open early; ‘speed to market’

[caption id="attachment_28065" align="alignright" width="360" caption="Codding Steel Frame Solutions panels cut six weeks from the construction schedule of this new Crate & Barrel store in Pittsburgh, Penn"][/caption]

ROHNERT PARK -- Codding Steel Frame Solutions, a light-gauge metal stud panel manufacturer, has enjoyed strong revenue growth and is lining up projects next year that could double that growth and require a second shift.

The company, started by Codding Enterprises in mid-2007, is expecting 2010 revenues to be 150 percent above those last year and is estimating three to four times as much growth next year, according to J.R. Gunter, Codding Steel's president and chief executive officer.

A key driver for the activity at the 50,000-square-foot factory in Sonoma Mountain Village in Rohnert Park is rolling out panels for a 150-bed, 165,000-square-foot Veterans Home under construction in Redding.

The factory currently is making panels for the Veterans Home as well as for an office building going up in Palo Alto. Coming up next year are four more Crate & Barrel stores and multifamily projects in Southern California, Texas and Hawaii. Even larger projects than the Veterans Home are being pursued.

"We're looking at in mid-Q1 potentially adding a second shift," Mr. Gunter said.

Having staffed up for the Redding project, the company now has nearly 30 employees, with 11 in the office, located in the Sonoma Mountain Business Cluster incubator Codding Enterprises created. Now Codding Steel will be "hatching," expanding into offices recently vacated in the same building.

[caption id="attachment_28067" align="alignleft" width="360" caption="Codding Steel's 50,00 sq. ft. factory in Sonoma Mountain Village in Rohnert Park"][/caption]

Framing and drywall contractor Performance Contracting Inc., one of the two largest such companies in the country, is purchasing about 70 truckloads of panels for the project.

"While the pads are poured, we're building the panels," Mr. Gunter said.

In a functional site test, PCI erected a 22,000-square-foot building in three days.

Use of framing panels from Codding Steel also shaved several weeks from construction schedules from new stores for Illinois-based housewares retailer Crate & Barrel in Pittsburgh, Pa.; Plano, Texas; and Durham, N.C.

For example, the exterior of the 40,000-square-foot Pittsburgh store was enclosed in 13 days and opened six weeks earlier than previous stud-by-stud methods, and the schedule for the one in Durham was trimmed by 10 weeks.

"We call it 'speed to market,' because the sooner the project is built, the sooner the customer is generating revenue, which allows their ROI to be accomplished significantly faster," Mr. Gunter said.

Crate & Barrel construction director John Moebes has been a vocal endorser of building information modeling, or BIM, for saving money and time on projects. BIM uses computer models of a project to allow owners, architects, engineers and contractors to spot potential jobsite problems and plan solutions well before costly and time-consuming job site fixes are needed.

Codding Steel uses a proprietary adaptation of 3-D modeling and BIM software by Autodesk of San Rafael to prepare models received from engineers and prepare production.

BIM also allows Codding Steel to target tolerances of one-sixteenths of an inch to allow rapid assembly of panels on site, according to Mr. Gunter.

"When you're 2,500 miles away from the project with hundreds of linear feet of wall you can't afford to not have the panels come together," he said.

Factory assembly also allows projects to continue regardless of jobsite weather, Mr. Gunter added.

For more information, contact 707-665-0800 or www.coddingsfs.com.