Manufacturing FacilityCospolich is a commercial and industrial equipment supplier that specializes in designing, modifying, and fabricating shipboard refrigeration units and other galley fixtures that improve the lives of onboard crews. The company has been serving the marine industry for over 80 years and, because their products are built with the utmost quality, demand is high. With business booming, Cospolich was quickly running out of space to complete large projects and meet lead times for customers. The company needed an expanded manufacturing space and wisely reached out to Big Top for a solution.

Designing a Building to Meet Manufacturing Needs

During the consultation, we met with representatives from Cospolich to discuss their fabrication needs and the size of the footprint where the new building would be installed. From there, we determined a 90-foot-wide-by-115-foot-long building that was 34 feet tall would be the perfect size to house production.

How We Stand Apart: Size

At Big Top, we do a number of things differently from our competitors. For instance, we don’t provide one-size-fits-all models. Rather, we design each building we sell to the exact dimensions required by the customer, and there is virtually no limit to how big our structures can be.

Equipping the Building with the Perfect Accessories

In addition to size, there were other specific features the building needed in order to meet manufacturing requirements. These included doors — we installed a 14-by-14-foot metal rollup door and a personnel door at both ends — and ventilation, which we provided by installing exhaust fans and air vents.

How We Stand Apart: Custom Designs

To provide our customers with custom-built structures, we offer a range of accessories that can be included in the design, not just doors and ventilation, but also durable flooring, HVAC systems, insulation, lightning protection, and more.

Providing a Timely Turnaround

With leads accumulating, Cospolich needed a solution fast. Thankfully, our fabric structures take far less time (and cost far less money) to construct than traditional buildings. We were able to install the new fabrication structure for this company in just nine days! With that speedy turnaround, Cospolich was able to expand its production line and keep up with demand.

How We Stand Apart: Fast Assemblies

Because our structures require far fewer materials, they take much less time to build than permanent buildings. In fact, they can be assembled at a rate of 2,500 square feet per day. Not only that, our buildings can be disassembled and moved to another location to keep pace with changing business needs.

Handling the Installation

Manufacturing FacilityCospolich was pleased that Big Top’s crew was able to handle the entire installation. This saved on costs and time, and eliminated the potential frustration of having to hire multiple contractors.

How We Stand Apart: Turnkey Installation Services

Not all Big Top’s fabric structures require specialized contractors to build. Some buildings only take a day to install and if you already have a team of laborers, then we can provide a detailed set of installation instructions along with 24/7 phone support to assist you along the way. But if you are not set up for this, then Big top can provide the entire installation, taking this burden off your team. We can anchor one of our buildings to nearly any kind of foundation — including asphalt, shipping containers, and ecology blocks — not just concrete, as with permanent buildings.

Benefits Cospolich Will Enjoy with Its New Building

Cospolich’s new fabrication structure is topped with our famous fabric roof. This roof is translucent and will allow natural sunlight to illuminate the interior, saving the company energy costs associated with an artificial lighting system. Additionally, the roof is designed to repel up to 99.95 percent of harmful UV-A and UV-B radiation, which will keep Cospolich’s staff, materials, and equipment protected from sun exposure. This has the added benefit of helping to maintain a pleasant interior temperature that is on average 15 degrees cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter than the outside temperature, thus keeping employees comfortable throughout the workday.

To learn how Big Top can design a building to meet your company’s specific needs, contact us today.

Modern ShipbuildingWhen Huntington-Ingalls Industries, the No.1 name in military shipbuilding in the country, took over the historic Avondale shipyard from a rival company, it acquired structures from Big Top that had been used at the previous facility and recognized the many benefits that the covers provided. To further their goal of becoming one of the most modern shipbuilding companies in the industry, HII approached Big Top to see if it was possible to create rolling covers on a much larger scale for their operations in Pascagoula, Mississippi.

A Collaborative Approach

A Collaborative ApproachAt Big Top, we are more than just a manufacturer – we are a vital resource for shelter solutions across nearly every industry. For this project, our design, engineering, and production teams all came together to work closely with the shipyard’s engineering department, state representatives, and architectural firms to find the perfect solution for HII’s production.

A Telescopic Design for Modern Shipbuilding

Telescopic DesignBig Top was able to help HII realize its goal of being the shipbuilder of the future by engineering large-scale rolling covers with telescopic maneuverability. We installed an automated railing system that allows segments of the structure to slide under one another, providing access for a crane and streamlining the modular nature of the shipbuilding process. Now, prefabricated sections can be built under the shelter, then lifted out by crane and welded to the ship. By installing these custom, automated rolling covers, we were able to help HII construct ships on a larger and faster scale, improve its chances of getting more business in the future, and lead the industry in shipbuilding design.

Better Working Conditions for Shipbuilders

Military ShipbuildingAn added benefit that HII’s rolling covers provided is the improved working conditions for its staff. Working under the hot southern sun and in the notorious Mississippi humidity before the covers were installed was a grueling effort for laborers, who often had to take breaks to avoid heat-related illnesses caused by prolonged exposure to the elements. Dianna Grenton, Manager of Manufacturing and Engineering, notes that the human factor element was considered when choosing Big Top because her staff needed to perform their duties safely sheltered from the heat and rain.

Shipyard of the FutureIndeed, Big Top’s shelters are designed for just such a situation. The fabric roof of the rolling covers is heat reflective and repels up to 99.95 percent of harmful UV-A and UV-B radiation. Thanks to this unique feature, the interiors of HII’s shelters naturally stay at a comfortable temperature that is, on average, 15 degrees cooler than the hot Mississippi climate, without help from an HVAC system. HII’s employees now work comfortably under the fabric roof, requiring far fewer breaks and therefore increasing production. By providing “a mechanism for them to get out of the heat and out of the rain,” Dianna Grenton continues, “it’s really going to transform the way we do business.”

Modern ShipyardConsidering the savings that HII enjoyed after eliminating the costs associated with employees getting sick due to heat exposure, the shelters essentially paid for themselves. Additionally, now that HII’s staff can continue to work even during inclement weather, production downtime is reduced, allowing it to stay on budget and complete projects ahead of time.

Big Top is proud to have served the marine and military industries since our founding in 1979. The versatility and myriad benefits that our fabric structures provide have helped countless companies improve their operations. If you’d like to learn more about our shelter systems and how we can custom build one to meet the needs of your business, contact Big Top today.


“As we add Big Top structures we continue to save labor hours on every project, Of course that means our bottom line improves, profits go up and that makes everybody happy.”

Matt Nichols, CEO, Nichols Bros. Boat Builders, WA


Building Boats in the Pacific Northwest

Nichols Bros. Boat Builders in Freeland, Washington just north of Seattle builds and refurbishes ships and barges for companies around the world. They refit, sandblast and paint vessels hundreds of feet long. In an open-air environment this work is laborious and nearly impossible to contain. Traditionally shipbuilders have used run of the mill tarps on a large scale to cover vessels throughout the process. It is time consuming to tie and re-tie the tarps as work progresses down the vessel. The space is tight and it’s tough to move around with welding torches and sandblasting equipment. Historically, it’s been a challenging work environment.

Big Top Helps Nichols Improve the Bottom Line

Both accommodating in width and height, eleven Big Top structures now cover their yard providing shelter for their ongoing projects. They easily move the structures from one job to the next or down the length of their larger vessels as they complete work section by section. Sandblasting and overspray are contained and they can work through the harsh wet and windy winter months of the Pacific Northwest, a feat nearly impossible before.

Big Top Fabric Structures Helps Marine Businesses Stay Functional: Container Storage

Fabric StructuresBig Top Fabric Structures is proud to custom-manufacture fabric buildings for a variety of different applications. Let’s dive in and take a look at how one of our buildings was the perfect solution for one business’s specific need:

When it comes to transporting goods, there are many moving pieces, including storage in between modes of transport. One of our clients provides this type of interim storage for marine salt dredgers, and so they needed a structure that could not only protect the imported salt from the outside elements, but also the expensive equipment that they use to separate varying forms of salt crystals. This was a custom application, so they contacted the right place – Big Top Fabric Structures.

Big Top was able to work with this particular company closely to build the perfect salt-storing structure. It is completely enclosed and provides superior protection for the company’s weather-sensitive goods and equipment. It was designed with separate bays that allow for the separation and sorting of different grades of salt. Plus, this structure is complete with a covered loading bay so the salt can be moved to another mode of transport without being exposed to the elements, which helps this business stay busy.

Another great feature of our fabric structures is that they don’t require a permanent concrete foundation, and they can be constructed relatively easily, so they are often more affordable than traditional metal buildings.

For more information about the fabric structures that we custom-manufacture for businesses and organizations across the globe, contact Big Top today. We will be happy to help you build a structure that meets your needs.

Big Top Delivers Fabric Structures to the Nicols Brothers Boat Builders

Nicols Brothers Fabric Structures

Big Top’s Buildings Bring More Productivity to the Shipyard

Nicols Brothers Fabric StructuresThe National Geographic Quest is a state-of-the-art exhibition ship that is designed to navigate narrow inlets and wildlife-rich passageways that are inaccessible to larger vessels. With spacious viewing decks and exploration tools like a SplashCam and a hydrophone that allow one to see and hear beneath the waves, not to mention kayaks, snorkeling gear, and other equipment, the National Geographic Quest is truly a one-of-a-kind vessel that allows travelers to experience the outdoors like never before.

The National Geographic Quest was made by the Nicols Brothers Boat Builders in the northwestern United States. The company specializes in steel and aluminum vessel construction, repair, and major conversions, and is capable of completing vessel construction from production engineering to turn-key delivery. The company’s full-service departments include: ship fitting, production welding, pipe systems, electrical, joinery, machine, paint and HVAC, operators, and production support.

Shipbuilding is an intricate and complex process. For example, shipbuilders often have to meet deadlines, but because shipbuilding is a process that takes place outdoors, their schedule can be significantly impacted by the weather. There are many tasks that can be pressured by the weather, too, such as painting and sandblasting.

The Nicols Brothers Boat Builders have more than 11 Big Top buildings at their shipyard to protect themselves from Mother Nature, keep production moving forward, and increase their bottom line. Our buildings allow the Nicols Brothers to be more efficient in painting and to sandblast in controlled environments. Our shelters can be lifted and moved by crane, which enables the Nicols Brothers to build in modules.

Contact Big Top today for more information about our fabric structures. As a custom manufacturer, we take pride in our ability to work closely with our customers and build structures that accommodate their specific needs.