Straight-line winds that reached 90 mph ripped off a large portion of Blake Reynolds' farm shop roof on June 28, 2018. The Indianola, Iowa, farmer and agribusiness owner was starting to outgrow his then 6-year-old shop, but Mother Nature dictated he move forward his plans to replace it.
Reynolds and Jeff Thompson, a technician and sales associate with Reynolds Ag Solutions, were inside the shop when the violent storm hit.
"We lost power, heard a big bang and the roof was gone that quick," Reynolds remembers. "We got out, and the trusses fell down on top of everything, sucking in the sidewalls. I was in shock."
Only the concrete floor was salvageable of what Reynolds calls a nice but flawed building.
Reynolds will never call the storm a blessing, but the young farmer was handed an unexpected shop do-over.
Horizon Buildings of Drakesville, Iowa, replaced the wrecked building with an 81-by-168-foot shop. A 1,200-square-foot showroom was added for Precision Planting displays and customer interaction. Offices and Reynolds' living quarters are attached. "Now, I can talk to customers without the noise of grinders and air tools in the background," Reynolds says. "It is my dream shop."
With a price tag of nearly $1 million, Reynolds corrected past mistakes and added new amenities to efficiently farm and take care of seed and ag equipment, and repair customers' equipment for decades to come.
The new shop is 5,100 square feet larger than the old one and a foot taller (20-foot ceilings). The overhead doors are a foot taller, too -- one 30 by 17 feet and two 16 by 17 feet, which are across from each other for drive-through convenience. A 12-by-12-foot door was added for forklift and pickup access. Building posts were reinforced, and roof trusses were extended 2 feet beyond the walls and secured with hurricane clips to prevent future wind damage.
"Equipment isn't going to get any smaller," Reynolds says. "Now, I have room for a combine, semi, a 24-row planter unfolded, and a 12-row planter folded. In the winter, that's a big advantage to get work done."
Loft storage space on the building's north end was expanded from 1,600 square feet to 4,800 square feet with pallet shelving. The floor was reinforced to hold 650,000 pounds. This allows the business to keep extra Precision Planting and farm parts on hand.
Here are specific features Reynolds will point out to visitors:
-- Overhead doors are 3 inches thick and insulated.
-- The shop has in-floor heat via a propane boiler. There's forced-air heat and air conditioning in the showroom, living quarters and offices.
-- Closed-cell spray foam and 25 inches of blown insulation give the shop an R50 rating, doubling the previous shop's rating.
-- All lights are LED and on motion detectors. "Despite the increase in shop size, the electric bill remains about the same," Reynolds says. "Propane use has decreased."
-- Air circulation was improved for worker comfort with six shop ceiling fans. They are controlled by individual switches, and they are reversible.
-- A break room was added in the loft to provide a comfortable space for lunch and planning meetings. Previously, both were done at a workbench.
-- Wi-Fi coverage improved. Extra signal repeaters were added to eliminate dead spots, which previously plagued employees. Internet access is critical for equipment repair and upgrades.
-- Security cameras monitor the facility.
-- Bulk storage tanks were installed for engine oil, engine coolant and hydraulic fluid. Each has a 50-foot hose reel with electronic metering dispensers.
-- Air lines were placed on the inside of exterior walls instead of on the outside to prevent freezing, unlike the other shop. Plus, enough hose reels were scattered throughout the building for 100% coverage.
-- A 14,000-pound vehicle lift was added for $5,200. It cost half as much as a pit, and it can be covered with plywood to serve as an extra workbench.
This is one in a series of America's Best Shops. If you have a shop you'd like us to feature, send a note to: email@example.com. If we publish your shop story, we'll pay you $500.
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