Written by Barkman Concrete Published on January 11th, 2012
Wow, what a project! Most of us are aware that the construction for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ football stadium is well underway. We started working on this project in April of 2010 and began by pricing out different options including blue and gold pavers, durahold (a type of retaining wall), tree covers and a few walk of fame choices. Many changes were made during the winter of 2010/2011 and the durahold was given the go ahead.
Now this is where the fun started. It was decided that with our current 6 molds and even with double pouring we would not have enough product for when it was needed in mid to late September. So another six molds were quickly made to help out. The one thing that we did not know at the time was that some of our older molds were not quite square. (Remember this part.) We quickly came up with a plan for production, mapping out daily numbers and updating the customer on a regular basis so they were always aware of how much product was available. Then came our first delay, walls needed to be engineered. It wasn’t too bad of a delay as it gave us more time to produce more durahold. On September 6, 2011 we sent out our first shipment of durahold to the new stadium. Shortly after this we received a call that the durahold pieces on site were not quite square. Cal and I went to inspect the pieces. What we discovered was variation in thickness, flared bottoms and ends that were not square. We found variances of 1/8” to 1/4” in height from one end to another. So if you put a piece of durahold down that was 11 7/8” thick next to a piece that was 12 1/8” you had a 1/4” or more variance. We checked all of the old molds to see where the problem started and it was determined then that some of them were not quite square. We figured out where the problem started and now had to come up with a plan to correct it. We did not have the time to just produce more pieces and most of the durahold was made with the old molds. The plan was to mark the heights on the durahold so that when the crew was installing, they could match up pieces with similar heights to avoid any large height differences. We had limited success with this so it was then decided to grind the durahold in Steinbach to ensure the pieces were level and square. This was working better than our original attempt. By this point we had been on site many times talking with the crew and explaining why and what we were doing to correct the varied thicknesses. We were always available for questions from the installer and kept the line of communication open at all times. They were greatly appreciative of our efforts.
There was a slight curve in the wall and the installer asked if we could custom make some pieces. Cal had a great idea of tapering the pieces slightly as this would allow the wall to curve without any extra cutting. This idea worked so well we were pouring six tapered pieces per day. We still have to cut some tapered pieces on site to keep up. Time was not on anybody’s side as the winter months were near and we had to come up with another plan of attack as the installer was still struggling with some height variations. So we offered a barkman team member with lots of experience who could help grind down some of the durahold so that the installer and his crew could spend more time working on the wall. Since I don’t like the cold and missed the grinder training classes Cornie was sent out to the site. While on site Cornie was kept busy grinding pieces, sorting and cutting the durahold pieces. As the cold set in it was getting more challenging on site. You can’t move as quick with all the extra clothes on. Cornie called me one day and was saying how cold it was. So I went to Costco to get a box of hot packs and a warmer pair of gloves for him. Cornie was my best friend that day. After five weeks on site Cornie was able to come back to Steinbach. The completed retaining wall looks great.
My last site visit for 2011 was December 12th. The joke in the office is that with all of my site visits it will take until next October for the Bomber players to have more time at the stadium than I have.
We had a lot ups and downs on this project. There were many barkman team members that were involved from production, shipping and fellow sales staff. During the tough times we all banded together to take on any challenge that came up.