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January 15, 2020 ConstructionFood Distribution & Cold Storage

How Accelerated Completion of Cheney Brothers, Inc.’s Statesville Facility Drove Regional Growth


Happy New Year! I’m looking forward to 2020 and all that it has in store. But first, I’ve spent some time reflecting on our company’s accomplishments during the past year and what made these projects so successful. Case in point: The Cheney Brothers, Inc. (CBI) Statesville Inc. distribution center expansion. While the project presented numerous challenges for my team and I, we exceeded client expectations with astute answers to their most pressing concerns, a fast-tracked schedule and forward thinking for future wins.

Growing Pains

Cheney Brothers Inc. Statesville, NC test kitchen

The Southeast-based, family-owned food distributor—founded in 1925—has been on a northward growth path since acquiring two companies with four distribution centers in North Carolina in 2016. Demand for the high-quality meat, seafood and prepared foods required significantly larger cold storage and more modern test kitchens and processing areas. CBI knew it would be necessary to expand and update refrigeration capabilities, quickly occupy a new facility to establish regional operations and prepare for future growth.

The Race is On

CBI selected A M King to manage the design and construction of this project due to its vast experience and successful track record in timely completion of past cold storage and food distribution facilities. Cheney Brothers decided to expand the Statesville distribution center by 169,090 sf, bringing the total square footage to 265,000 sf. We focused energy on three elements that would address owner’s requirements:

Cheney Brothers Inc. Statesville NC distribution facility penthouse refrigeration units
  • State-of-the-art penthouse refrigeration system. A key element to this project was the installation of a cutting-edge refrigeration system that would meet the refrigeration needs of the client while also considering the workflow functions of day-to-day operations. Ultimately, the client was most interested in a self-contained, modular refrigeration system designed to meet cooling needs in a cost-effective manner. The energy efficient system is a package freon refrigeration system that is an alternative hazardous ammonia system. The freezer at CBI consists of three refrigeration units that run simultaneously, allowing for efficient redundancy required in case of a failure occurring within a unit. The meat cooler consists of two systems that can maintain temperature below freezing should the client ever decide to convert this space into a freezer.
  • The decision to take this particular approach eliminated the need for the engine room. Within two days, air handling units – prefabricated in a safe off-site environment – were mounted on the roof and anchored to the structural steel designed to support these units in each zone. The compressor and condenser are in one package penthouse unit also installed on the roof, much closer to the evaporator units. Ultimately the client was satisfied with a superior refrigeration system, set up in significantly less time than would have occurred with field construction.
Cheney Brothers Inc. Statesville NC distribution facility
  • Swift Owner Occupancy. Moving into the new expanded facility was critical for gaining a foothold in the region. A M King helped the client determine the essential turnover areas to maximize revenue and sequenced construction with those milestones in mind. Our team maintained an aggressive schedule, despite weather delays, and was able to phase in tenancy of each portion of the warehouse as it was complete instead of waiting for conclusion of the entire project. Bringing the freezers and coolers online on this fast-tracked schedule allowed the owner to more quickly capitalize on the power of expanded cold storage.
  • Master Planning. A M King and the client considered the long-term master plan of the site during the design phase of this project. Because the future building expansion would be on the north side of the existing building, the new site utilities were designed and installed so that they would not need to be relocated once construction began and facility operations would not be disrupted. A M King and the client also performed internal analysis to determine a cost-effective solution for a future employee parking lot. Considering future expansion during the initial design phase would bring exponential value to the client by keeping profit centers running during forthcoming construction.


  • Safety First. CBI was thrilled that we were able to maintain a secure working environment daily for the hundreds of company employees and the construction crew members without disrupting day-to-day operations. Installation of the refrigeration system, and steel erection, for example, required strict adherence to safety regulations and vigilance while transporting multiple pieces of multi-ton equipment up to the roof with cranes. A M King also worked with CBI management to ensure strategic areas of the warehouse were blocked, allowing mezzanine steel and masonry shafts to be erected without putting CBI employees at risk of injury. Civil construction was carefully sequenced and coordinated to allow CBI trucks to access existing dock spaces while adjacent construction of a new truck court and dock was underway.
  • Showcase Facility. The project provides warehousing and logistical solutions, and the commercial test kitchen allows Rick Stapleton, President of CBI Statesville, to showcase the company’s expertise. The building is now a standard for all future CBI developments. Not only does CBI cater to clients and prospects, but the company also developed an express market for the general public to purchase CBI products.
  • Award Winner. A M King won ABC Carolinas Excellence in Construction Eagle Award for the CBI expansion project, and was one of three nominees for the organization’s Project of the Year.
  • Next! CBI awarded A M King a second, complex cold storage and food processing project in Greensboro NC that just recently was completed.

A M King Staff
A M King Staff
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