Project tracker: Massive structure uses technique new to Janesville

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Frank Schultz
Sunday, March 23, 2014

What it is: Goex, an offshoot of Prent Corp., is building a new manufacturing building along Highway 14 on Janesville's north side. The building covers 175,000 square feet, a bit larger than a football field, if the end zones are included.

Why it's different: The plant is being built using tilt-up walls. The walls sandwich insulation between two layers of concrete. The walls are poured on site. A crane later tilts them into place.

The technique has been around for decades, but Goex President Josh Gray said it's the only building he knows of in Janesville that was built this way. A local developer said that's probably correct.

Nationwide, more than 15 percent of all industrial buildings are tilt-up, according to the Tilt-Up Concrete Association.

The association says the technique provides buildings that are durable and low-maintenance and can be built quickly at low cost.

Gray said a concrete-block wall, of the kind used at another Janesville building now under construction, the city's new bus garage, could be easily damaged by a forklift, but a tilt-up wall is so strong that it would suffer only a scratch.

Why build anew? The $17 million investment will give Goex room to handle increased orders of its custom rigid plastic sheet and roll stock.

Goex has been increasing its share of the market through quality, service and technical capabilities that some others can't match, Gray said.

Product development is key. Goex has been adding a new product line every 12 to 18 months, and each expansion has required about 12 new workers, Gray said.

What about traffic? Gray noted the new building is located on a Union Pacific spur, so the plastic pellets that are Goex products' main ingredient will be shipped in bulk by rail, reducing incoming truck traffic.

Finished products will continue to be hauled by truck. Gray said the net effect will be fewer trucks than at the current site, just off Kennedy Road at 2532 Foster Ave.

Timeline: The new building had been scheduled to be ready in July, but now move-in likely will be in mid to late August.

One drawback of the tilt-up technique is that weather can delay work, Gray said. The severe winter put the building behind schedule.

Gray plans no layoffs during the move-in. The company employs 143, with six more positions that need to be filled.

The future: While there are no immediate plans, Goex owns enough adjoining land that it could double the size of the new building, Gray said.

Goex initially owned 25 acres but bought five more from Rock County to make sure it had enough room, Gray said.

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