Selecting a piece of land on which to build a food distribution or processing facility is not as easy as one might imagine. It requires a lot more than just going out and finding an appealing chunk of land. Just ask Brian King, majority partner at AM King Construction Co. in Charlotte, NC, who has been assisting numerous food companies in site selection and design/build services over the last few decades.
Where to locate is extremely important relative to proximity to transportation hubs and to an available workforce. And in today’s economy, with many empty commercial and industrial buildings on the market, the decision might rest on the choice of buying and retrofitting an existing building, or purchasing a parcel of land on which to construct a new building. An experienced organization like AM King can guide companies through the process so the decisions are the right ones for companies’ specific requirements.
Take A Holistic Approach
“We consider a project from a holistic perspective,” says King, whose company offers design/build services to numerous industries including the food industry. “We look beyond the elements most owners tend to consider. They know their own businesses very well, but they often overlook the fundamental elements that can’t be seen visually. This is where bringing in a design/build firm like ours can offer a wealth of knowledge these businesses don’t typically get when they deal exclusively with the real estate community.”
The viability and cost-effectiveness of selecting the right site begins with a careful constructability analysis that could include sub-surface exploration to determine soil quality, which helps project potential costs involved in site improvements, explains King. “It’s easy to identify four potential sites and it might be alluring to favor one location simply because it is half the price of the other three locations. Where we bring value to the table is our expertise in examining all of the costs involved in the process of developing a piece of ground; and many times some costs are hidden. For instance, you have to know how far away the utilities are. We can determine if we can bring in utilities more cost-effectively than having to go through major public improvements, which are costly and take a lot of time to accomplish.”
Clearly, the cheapest piece of land could actually be the most expensive once it is developed to a client’s requirements. “A client might want a particular location because of the setting, or because it’s the best spot from a logistics and transportation perspective,” notes King. “It could also be that they feel comfortable with that particular community. All of these factors have to be considered in helping them move forward with their decision. Our job is to help eliminate the guesswork involved in the viability of their decision.”
The company recently completed construction of a food processing facility near Charlotte, NC. That company had outgrown an existing facility, where it employed about 100 people. The owners were uncertain whether to build or buy, so they sought out AM King’s expertise. “This was right around the time that the economy went south and there was a flood of commercial buildings on the market,” reports King. He and his colleagues conducted an analysis of both scenarios, and ultimately decided that it would be more cost-effective for their client to find the right building to retrofit to their requirements rather than finding and buying a piece of land to build on. “We assisted them in this process by reviewing potential properties and evaluating them from a feasibility perspective.”
In this particular case, the processing company wanted to retain their current well-trained workforce, in which was invested a significant amount of time and money in training. This meant King needed to find a location within a reasonable radius of the existing facility. “We often run into situations like this where the big concern is about maintaining an existing workforce,” he says.