Big Topics-News & Insights

Terry White, owner and president of B.E.T.-ER Mix Concrete in Hudson, Florida talks about how fabric structures from Big Top Shelters have improved his business. Read More

Light. It’s Natural, It’s Free, and It Will Change Your Business.

By Jeff Merschman

The influence and impact a work environment can have on a business’ bottom line is significant. Consider central air and heat. The ability to control the climate within a building has lead to increased productivity, safer working conditions, improved worker moral, reduced overhead costs, and greater product integrity.

But controlling a work environment is a recurring expense. And as volatile temperatures continue to disrupt once predictable seasons, the need for innovative and affordable solutions will only increase.

One such solution has been beating down on us since the dawn of time: Natural light.
Seems obvious, right? It has been to residential designers and architects who have long harnessed natural light in homes and apartments. Think skylights and glass sliding doors and the California-driven approach to “bringing the outside in.” But it’s taken some time for industrial site designers and architects to look to natural light as a way to illuminate spaces and warm rooms. Today, that’s changing.

Natural Light Has a Measurable Effect on Productivity

A great example is the East Lansing, Michigan-based Peckham Inc.’s new 109,000-square-foot facility, recently featured in Area Development Online. According to the article, the facility made natural light a central focus, literally, by constructing a large light well in the middle of the building.

While benefits to overhead cost are expected (the construction was just finished this spring), Peckham discovered an almost unintended benefit: Natural light helped break down the barriers between white and blue-collar workers.

By providing natural light throughout the building in a central location, everyone had access to the “corner office,” so to speak. Natural light was available to everyone, not just C-suite employees. In addition to the cultural influence of natural light, it’s expected that Peckham’s natural light design will potentially contribute somewhere between 20 and 50 percent in energy savings.

Bringing Natural Light Inside

At Big Top, we’re seeing customers look at natural light as a potential business asset, too. B.E.T.-ER MIX Concrete in Hudson, FL produces concrete and aggregate. It’s hard work, and the environment in which they do this work can wreak havoc on their business. After all, it rains on average 100 days a year in Florida.

Our Big Top Fabric Structures were an obvious solution. They protected operations from the elements, and kept workers out of the direct sun. But our structures’ also helped them use natural light. Specifically, our translucent fabrics allowed natural light to permeate covered spaces, but also provided enough light for B.E.T.-ER MIX to conduct their daily operations. Using our structures, B.E.T.-ER MIX is now able to give their employees a dry, well-lighted place to work, while gaining substantial energy cost savings in the process. It’s win-win.

What’s interesting about both B.E.T.-ER MIX. and Peckham is that the solution to their work environment challenges wasn’t to impose control through producing artificial light and temperature, but to find a solution that harnessed what was already available to them.
So much of our world revolves around the ability to flick a switch, adjust a thermostat, or seal a window or door. But as business and industry continue to grow, evolve and face new challenges to their work environments, simply pressing a button will not be enough, Solutions will have to be smart, holistic, and, arguably, natural to the environments in which we work.

How Businesses Are Redefining Temporary.

By Jeff Merschman

Is flexibility and adaptability more important to a business’ future than size or even growth?

Can temporary solutions really replace permanent ones?

As we start to slowly emerge from the most recent recession, these are the kinds of questions businesses are starting to ask themselves. And the answers they’re finding are revealing just how much has changed since 2007.

Over the past few years, flexible, temporary business solutions have become regular practice, and appear to be more than just a predictable short-term response to an economic downturn. Just last year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that there were more workers employed as temps than at any time since the start of the 21st Century. Similarly, the equipment business has shifted away from purchasing and towards renting. In 2014, the rental market for commercial equipment is expected to grow 12 percent, generating $36.6 billion total revenues.

Originally this movement towards temporary solutions was simply how business leaders dealt with a slowing economy. Stop-gap measures that enabled them to stay afloat. Or, as Sidney Sexson, senior vice president at Wells Fargo Equipment Finance, put it, it was “the uncertainty created by the economic downturn of the last few years and an unwillingness to commit” that pushed a lot of different industries to pursue solutions that gave them easy outs.

But today it’s different. Temporary solutions no longer reflect apprehension or caution on the part of business and industry. In fact, they now offer some very distinct advantages and capabilities.

The Advantages of Temporary

1. Cost Effective

Renting equipment or building a temporary, mobile structure, or even hiring seasonal employees enables businesses to avoid long-term capital investments. Maintenance is no longer an on-going expense, and as insurance options become available to more and more people, many companies can get out of the health business.

2. Availability

As customer demands and needs change faster and faster, businesses have to respond with equal speed. Purchasing can slow that down. Immediate availability of equipment, structures and people is critical to a businesses’ ability to keep pace with the world.

3. Risk Management

Any restaurant manager will tell you that their ability to get staff off the clock fast is indispensible to their ability to control costs and manage risk. Employing staff during slow non-revenue generating periods can kill a business. The same goes for capital investments in equipment or even mortgages on newly built spaces. Temporary solutions allow a business to eliminate wasted hours and reduce the risk of economic slowdowns.

4. Trial Periods

And when purchasing or owning makes the most sense for a business, temporary solutions give businesses the opportunity to try things on and see if they fit. A temporary structure can act as a trial period or proving ground for investing in a permanent structure. Contracting employees can bridge the gap between interviewing and investing in a new hire. Renting a forklift or another piece of heavy equipment can give a business the opportunity to measure its use against the cost of purchasing.

Ultimately, flexibility and adaptability are becoming the cost of doing business in a constantly changing world. As a result, new business models are emerging.

New Models Meet Demands for Temporary Solutions

Aviation

There may be no better, or more high profile, example of a new business model designed to meet temporary needs than the budding private jet rental industry. Owning a private jet is expensive. It demands significant initial investments, ongoing maintenance, constant licensing, mandatory inspections and long-term storage. And that’s just the jet itself. Private ownership also requires hiring crew to operate your plane, which leads to salaries, training, medical evaluations and more licensing costs. Oh, and all the while, your jet is depreciating.

It’s no wonder then that a number of different companies have emerged in the past five to ten years to provide access to private jets without the cost and hassle of owning. NetJets, XOJET and BlueStar are just a few of the more established private jet charter companies. But what’s even more interesting is how this “temporary” industry is evolving. Just recently, PrivateFly, an online booking service not unlike Expedia, started giving customers the ability to search for private charter options and compare prices.

Commercial Space

Established businesses are starting to question the capital investments required to create permanent brick-and-mortar structures. The time, effort, planning and costs associated with constructing new buildings can prevent a business from remaining flexible and adaptable. This is making temporary structures, not just shared ones, an increasingly attractive option.

A growing number of industries are embracing temporary structures, from marine and construction to mining and schools. And they’re using a variety of temporary structure types.

  • Steel Buildings – use steel for the internal support and for exterior cladding.
  • Inflatable Shelters – use two layers of membrane connected together, the cavity formed between the layers is pressurized with air, keeping the structure erect.
  • Fabric Structures – use a rigid steel or aluminum frame and a sturdy fabric outer membrane. Once the frame is erected in place, the fabric cover is stretched (tensioned) over the frame.

Our research at Big Top shows that Fabric Structures offer a number of benefits above other temporary building types. Fabric Structures offer superior durability and ability to withstand weather conditions; maintain a comfortable, constant internal temperature; and, depending on the fabrics used, allow natural light keeping energy costs down. Fabric Shelters can be moved and can be disassembled and stored for future use.

Fabric Structures are very cost effective, up to 70% less than permanent construction, and significantly less than steel buildings. They can be classified as equipment which avoids property taxes.

Many of these benefits were on display in the 2012 Olympics in London. In planning for the games, London identified new permanent structures that needed to be built, but capped their size to fit actual demand and used temporary structures to expand them for the games. Doing so allowed the city to save money and space, and create infrastructure that would best fit the city, not just the games.

Temporary Solutions Are Shaping Future of Business

Economic woes in the last decade have put a lot of pressure on businesses and individuals. And that pressure forced a lot of businesses to think differently about how, why and where they invest their money. Being flexible and adaptable are the new costs of doing business. Responding to changing consumer needs and doing so in a way that doesn’t overextend businesses is critical to future success.

This has not only made temporary solutions more important, but also improved them. In fact, temporary solutions often have many of the same features and benefits of permanent ones, but without the risk and cost.

The examples in this article represent a new future for business and industry. Imagine the possibilities moving forward.

What industries are ripe for temporary solutions? How can temporary solutions change them? What new markets will be created in order to meet the demands for new temporary solutions?

Big Top Covers CONEXPO 2014 – The Best Expo Yet!

By Brandon Fletcher

The Big Top Team exhibited at this year’s CONEXPO-CONN/AGG in Las Vegas – the largest ever with a record-breaking 130,000 in attendance. The enthusiasm on the floor was contagious, and the activity at the Big Top booth was non-stop. We met business leaders from around the globe and discussed the trends in commercial space and the growing interest and use of fabric structures across many industries.

Thank you to all who stopped by the Big Top booth. We saw plenty of old friends and made quite a few new international acquaintances. We hope to reach out to everyone individually in the coming weeks. Please contact us through our website www.bigtopshelters.com, or, if you’re ready for a quick online quote, user our Quick Quote system here: Quick Quote Form

 

A list of the Big Top Team Members in Attendance at ConExpo:

Brandon Fletcher – [email protected]

Bobby Edwards – [email protected]

Dustin McCormick – [email protected]

Lance Houck – [email protected]

Fabric shelters can be anything from tents to the types of big tents that are rented at weddings or other types of parties, so the longevity of the shelter depends, really, on the materials used to construct it. Yurts, for example, can last for decades, without any real exterior damage due to winds or rains or other types of conflict or sources of degradation. But if a type of material is used that is waterproof treated, a fabric shelter can last for many years without any decay, degradation, or source of mold, etc. Kept clean and dry, when not in use, a fabric shelter can be a great use of resources, an investment that truly pays off.

One source of fabric shelter that produces commercial buildings made of fabric comes from BigTopShelters.com. These have an excellent track record, around the globe, for being weather-proofed. Used to store military equipment or for maintenance, these are excellent for a variety of purposes. The heavy-duty weather-proof fabric spells structures, that barring a major hurricane or tornado, are built to last decades. The quality of our custom fabric shelters is unparalleled. Expertly engineered fabrics and superiorly designed structures are created in-house by our close-knit, experienced and technology-backed team. Using precise CNC and robotic fabrication, our portable structure construction is highly detailed and dependable.

The problem with fabric shelters can be in the construction not being sound enough, the frame being flimsy or the shelter being open to weathering because of lack of weather or waterproof materials. A good fabric shelter holds up over time and is warm because of proper material being used. A tarp can be used as a shelter; anything really can, so if a person wishes to be invested in a fabric shelter, the person needs to research the type of material and also the type of weather-proofing that has been applied to the fabric.

Other things to think about in the case of a shelter like those at Big Top Shelters is ventilation, especially. It’s good to be sure that the material also is not flammable and that the ventilation allows for the escape of gases. A window or door, naturally, has cracks where you open them; this allows for carbon monoxide to escape. However, fabric does not, so one must consider ventilation in a fabric shelter and how to ensure that there is enough.

Fabric shelters are versatile, interesting, and very affordable. They make great solutions for temporary housing or for sheds and outbuildings as well as garages for storing items or cars, as long as attention is paid to ventilation particularly in the case of the garage.

Livestock is precious commodity. Different from most any other type of inventory, animals like cattle, sheep, llamas, alpaca and horses are living, breathing creatures that demand more special sheltering considerations than simply being warehoused. Understandably, health and welfare concerns are at the forefront for ranchers and farmers, but other issues exist that can sway the decision on what type of shelter to provide for livestock.

Durability, portability and environmental control are other important considerations for someone who makes their living from live animals. The sheltering options available to ranchers and farmers generally fall into the following categories:

Traditional Wood Structured Buildings: This type of shelter would include the typical barn and be constructed of primarily wood. Although nostalgic, wood-based structures have the following shortcomings:

  • Lack of durability. Wood deteriorates more quickly than does steel or fabric, making it susceptible to damage. The image an old barn falling into itself comes to mind with this situation.
  • Unsanitary. By its nature, wood will hold bacteria left by livestock and inevitably create an unhealthy environment. Over time, wood can be impossible to sanitize, thus making replacement the only option.
  • Higher maintenance. A wood-based structure will require ongoing maintenance like roofing and replacing worn out components like doors and panels.

Modern Steel Structured Buildings: A more contemporary approach to sheltering livestock, steel buildings are almost entirely built from steel. In recent decades, they’ve addressed many of the pitfalls that accompany wood structures, but still fall short in the following ways:

  • Lack of mobility. Steel structures, although very durable, are cumbersome and in most cases, not able to be moved if need be. Ranchers and farmers can attest there are many situations where it would be ideal to move a structure to adapt to the given circumstance.
  • Severe weather danger. Steel structures are typically built from traditional I-beams and sheets of corrugated metal. Most livestock operations reside in either high-wind situations or tornado alley, both of which make for a potentially dangerous situation due to flying, sharp steel. Additionally, lightning is a serious issue with steel buildings, creating a multitude of safety and security issues.
  • Ventilation issues. Steel structures can become extremely hot in the summer months, creating additional cost and effort to prevent them from becoming an unhealthy environment for livestock.

Revolutionary Fabric Structured Buildings: The latest in innovation and design, these modern structures combine a durable, light-weight steel skeleton with a tough fabric skin, resulting the best combination of durability, sustainability and functionality. Consider the following:

  • Increased Durability. Frames are constructed from zinc-coated galvanized steel that lasts up to 40 years. The fabric, built from durable PVC, (polyvinyl chloride), comes in varying weights to suit the situation.
  • Easy sanitation. Steel and PVC can be cleaned quite easily via pressure washing, but won’t deteriorate from maintenance. The result is a clean environment for livestock to be housed in.
  • Low Maintenance. Despite their durable nature, the components of a fabric structure may need to be replaced from time to time. Fabric panels and steel frames are inexpensive and can be easily replaced as needed.
  • Mobility. Many livestock operations require the animals to be rotated to different areas. A portable, fabric structured building is ideal for this situation as tear down and re-assembly requires the least amount of effort.
  • Ventilation. A fabric structure has proven itself to more breathable than wood or steel. This not only provides for a healthier environment for livestock, but also allows for better environmental control.

Ranchers and farmers are faced with unique issues when managing their livestock. With live animals, their health and welfare are immediate concerns that require great care, but at the same time, operational issues like total cost of ownership for shelters can potentially jeopardize the entire operation. Big picture issues like durability, mobility, flexibility and sanitation that can be minimized by opting for a fabric building solution.

When people are searching for a permanent or temporary shelter, there are a number of choices to consider. Making the right choice can definitely help them save a lot of money and time. These days, the popularity of fabric shelters is steadily rising.

They are now being used in many places around the world. At the same time, current trends indicate that many people prefer fabric shelters rather than permanent buildings. There are several advantages that have contributed to the popularity of this state-of-the-art building style.

Energy Efficient

The design of a fabric shelter can accommodate energy savings very well. This is because it allows for daylight to penetrate the structure to increase useful light. This can also reduce the amount of energy used in order to reduce its overall operating cost. They are also designed to provide people with a wide range of insulatory properties to withstand any kind of conditions.

Cost Effectiveness

A fabric shelter is usually much less expensive than a permanent option. There is also less site preparation that is associated with the installation. A conventional fabric shelter that is built from the ground up is less likely to contaminate groundwater, and this minimizes unforeseen expenses.

At the same time, it can be utilized in unpleasant wet or cold weather and then removed to allow easy access to the site. This allows for an extension of the operating season and year-round usage.

Transportable/Permanent

High-performance fabric shelters can also be used for permanent applications. This makes these structures an excellent alternative to wood or brick and allows for specific requirements to be easily met.

When a shelter is needed for a short-term application, a fabric shelter is certainly much easier to transfer to a new location. Additionally, it allows the owner to resell it after it has met its desired purpose.

Design Flexibility

A fabric shelter provides owners with tremendous flexibility in design including colors and shapes. The material’s strength and elasticity can easily accommodate varying load capacities to enable engineers or architects further their design capabilities. It can also provide free and clear-span areas for maximum floor space.

Aside from being an alternative to a typical building, a fabric shelter can also be utilized in conjunction with some traditional building methods. This gives an engineer or architect the capability to take advantage of its unique properties.

Quick Assembly

A fabric shelter can be erected much faster than virtually any other kind of structure found on the market. Smaller size fabric shelters can easily be erected by a crew of three to four people using a couple of ladders and hand tools in as little as a few hours to a day or two. Larger sized fabric structures may need lifting equipment, a four to five person crew and a number of days to set-up.

The Bottom Line

Individuals who are looking for a shelter that can provide them with adequate protection should look no further than fabric structures. Aside from being economical, they can provide owners the comfort that they deserve in any weather condition. They also have a number of properties that permanent structures do not.

To learn more about our fabric shelters, call us at 800-277-8677 or click here.

One of the biggest challenges faced by schools today is handling increased student attendance within the school. Population numbers change each year as people move in and out of communities. A school may find they have a need for extra building structures on campus to accommodate their larger population. Fabric structures can help to lessen these issues, providing a solution in the form of semi-permanent or permanent structures.

These fabric buildings can be customized to each school’s needs and offer a solution that is energy-efficient and cost-effective.

With budget cuts affecting most schools today, fabric structures can offer the perfect solution for extra space, without taking too much out of the school’s budget. There are many benefits to using fabric structures as a solution for growing schools.

Main Benefits Of Fabric Structures

  • Buildings are customizable for individual needs
  • Construction is easy and costs less than traditional building structures
  • Buildings can often be shipped out of supplier’s inventory, saving time over traditional construction time
  • Fabric structures can be relocated to personalize them for each school’s needs

Needs Are Met With Fabric Structures

Fabric structures are versatile and can be customized to meet many different needs a school may have. In the past, fabric structures have been used for these purposes:

  • Extra gymnasium space
  • Library space
  • Additional space during school renovation projects
  • Lecture halls
  • Tech halls and room for shop classes
  • Food court styled areas for colleges
  • Extra space for office and administrative needs

Other Benefits Of Fabric Structures

Many of today’s fabric structures are built with specialized panels near the top to allow natural daylight to come in. This is helpful to students by providing proper light for reading and helps to create a better learning environment for them. It also decreases the school’s need for artificial light, which can help the school to save money on energy bills.

Fabric structures also feature some of the latest technology in insulation, which helps to increase energy-efficiency. Many structures feature name brand insulation products, which are often made from technologically advanced insulating compounds like fiberglass that is formaldehyde free. The insulation used can be up to nine inches thick and is normally covered with foil material to deflect heat and cold. These buildings are often airtight, and can be crafted to withstand any severe weather they may be exposed to.

Traditional Buildings Are Expensive

In a report issued in 2012, the amount of money spent on school construction projects was expected to be over $10 billion dollars for the year. Schools find that they need more space because of increasing populations, but they also find that there is a lack of funding to build that extra space. The recession in 2008 had a lot to do with school construction funds decreasing, along with people not wanting to see their taxes increase to pay for school addition projects.

This is where fabric structures have become a very practical solution to the extra space needs of schools. They offer a lower cost option, yet one that will fulfill the needs of many schools. They also offer the flexibility for additions to be used for many purposes and the purpose of the addition can be changed in the future.

To learn more about our fabric shelters, call us at 800-277-8677 or click here.

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