Farming on the northern edge of the Corn Belt where Jeff and Cindy Tiemann live means enduring subzero temperatures and snow-covered ground in the winter. This would be tolerable if outside machinery work wasn't involved. But, for many years, that wasn't the case at their Royalton, Minnesota, farm.
"Our farm shop was in a little two-car garage up by the house with an 18- x 30-foot addition," Jeff recalled. "We didn't have room to work on combines, tractors or anything in the shop."
Tired of the cramped shop and working in the cold, the Tiemanns decided to build a large farm shop with extra space for offices and a septic business they had recently purchased. They also wanted the shop to be warm and dry, even during a snowstorm.
They completed a new 70- x 154-foot facility in fall 2012. Located away from the house, the large building had plenty of room for work on large equipment and new features to make maintenance jobs more efficient. Outside, the building had an area large enough for semis to turn around.
Now, several winters later, the Tiemanns still give their facility a thumbs-up. Not only has it eased the burden of winter shop work, it has become the hub of the farm, their business and, unexpectedly, their family events.
TOP OF LIST
After spending decades using a cramped, dark shop, Jeff had a pretty good list of items he wanted in a new shop.
Most importantly, he needed space to handle machinery maintenance. Jeff, along with his son Kenton and father, Rod, farm 2,000 acres (irrigated) of corn, soybeans, edible beans and rye. The trio also manage a large chicken barn.
They went from 1,400 square feet in the old shop to 4,200 sq. feet in the new one. Now, the 60- x 70-foot shop can accommodate the farm's semis, self-propelled sprayer, combines, tractors and a large planter unfolded.
A 30- x 18-foot shop door provides access for the largest vehicles and a 12- x 14-foot door for smaller vehicles. The electric-lift doors are remote-controlled.
Tired of standing in water puddles, Jeff made sure a drain was installed in the floor. "Now, when we bring equipment into the shop during the winter, the snow and ice thaws, and will drain into a holding tank," he said.
Near the top of Jeff's list was in-floor heating. The system keeps the shop a comfortable 68 degrees Fahrenheit and the floor dry in the winter, even with water dripping off equipment. Water -- heated by natural gas -- runs through pipes in the shop's concrete floor. Jeff said this system runs inexpensively and also heats the adjoining area for the septic business.
The new shop has a ventilation system. "We have an exhaust fan with three small doors in the ceiling. If we close the overhead doors, the fan will turn on and pull in fresh air from the attic to flush out fumes," Jeff said.
The Tiemanns increased lighting in the new shop. "The old shop had two windows, and it was dark all the time," he added. "I wanted to bring in as much natural light as possible."
Eight large windows on the south wall opposite the overhead doors provide lots of daylight in the shop. But, winter days are short, so the Tiemanns installed long strips of T8 fluorescent light fixtures to fully illuminate the area.
They also installed special sound-reducing siding on the shop walls. Not only does this lower noise levels in the shop, it reduces noise in the offices next door.
The Tiemanns added features in the shop to improve efficiency. They mounted oil reels on the shop wall for easy access, with the oil tanks hidden on the other side of the wall. A drip tray in the floor catches fluids and drains into a pail for proper disposal.
The walls are lined with tool benches, siding with moveable hooks to hang tools and wheeled tool cabinets. "We put everything we could on wheels. Now, we can bring tools to where we are working," Jeff said.
To provide a clean work area not filled with tools, they built a large welding table/workbench that measures 4 x 10 feet. Jeff said this workbench sees a lot of use.
The Tiemanns brought into their new shop a hydraulic press they built 15 years ago. Jeff operates the press with an air-operated foot control, leaving his hands free to hold items on the press.
Above the service area with the water heater is used for parts storage. Jeff keeps an inventory of parts so they aren't missing items during crucial situations.
Next door to the shop is a 70- x 70-foot area used for the Tiemanns' septic business called Fiedler's. The five trucks used in the business must be washed every evening. Before the shop was built, washing took place outside, even on the coldest days. The wash area became caked with ice several inches thick.
In the Fiedler area, Jeff installed a large wash bay with plastic curtains to prevent overspray. He also installed the oil and other fluid tanks in this area because it has less traffic.
In the shop, the Tiemanns keep a refrigerator and table for work breaks. Just beyond this area sits a two-story wing with offices, bathroom/shower, storage and a large conference room with a full kitchen.
This area is Cindy's realm. Here, she and daughter Bre Vaillancourt handle the administrative work for the farm and septic business. Before this space was built, they worked together with a third person in a 12- x 12-foot room.
Now they have a spacious office area for Bre and separate offices for Cindy, Jeff and a partner in the septic business. A front door to the office and a sitting area/foyer with coffee bar accommodate customers.
The Tiemanns purchased a new computer system for the shop and a powerful Wi-Fi that covers most of the farm site.
Upstairs, Cindy designed and decorated the large conference room. A full kitchen allows the Tiemanns to host work and family events, including the family Christmas. Lots of windows, including some looking over the shop, keep the room brightly lit.
Cindy loves antiques and has decorated the wing with rustic pieces. "I wanted it to be comfortable and a place where the guys can come in with their shoes on," she said. The upstairs conference room has a painted plywood floor and rusted tin siding they found in an old farm shed. Reclaimed materials were used to build the kitchen cabinets.
The Tiemann family has found the conference room to be a better place for family events than their home.
Jeff remains very satisfied with the rest of the facility. When asked if there was anything he would change, Jeff said he would have liked to make a drive-through so vehicles didn't need to back out. However, siting of the building prevents that request. Otherwise, he did plan for adding space should they one day need to expand the facility.
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