Boyd Coleman is the manufacturing manager with Karl’s Event Rental. Karl's was responsible for the construction of over a million square feet of tent at the Vancouver Winter Olympics currently underway including a 50,000 square foot tent being used by the athletes as a dining hall.. He was kind enough to join us today for a few questions.
MFGSourcing: Tell us a little about your company. Have you worked on projects like this before?
Boyd Coleman: We have done large projects such as the Super Bowl, New York and Los Angeles Fashion Weeks, Breeder’s Cup, and some NASCAR Events. The Winter Olympics is the largest we have done so far with over 1,000,000 square feet of temporary buildings and flooring. We have also done disaster relief work including construction of base camps after hurricane Katrina.
MFGSourcing: Boyd, how long in advance is a project like this quoted? When did the planning begin?
BC: Planning started over 18 months ago. The manufacturing process began in January of 2009 and the first trucks started shipping in May. We ran 24 hours a day 7 days a week for a year. When you’re doing that, there is no room to work extra shifts to catch-up and the importance of suppliers meeting deadlines increases drastically.
MFGSourcing: What were some of the challenges you faced in the project planning stages?
BC: Some challenges included modifying our product to handle the snow loads required especially in Whistler. One particular structure was used as a hospital and needed an extra strong floor to handle heavy equipment such as CAT scan machines et cetera. There were also a few structures that needed special openings for helicopters, fire trucks and buses to enter.
MFGSourcing: Is there a cool factor with a project like this that gets you more excited than your every day stuff, or is it just business as usual?
BC: Working on a project like this definitely generates some excitement. The size of the project alone is extraordinary, plus there is some pride that goes with supplying the Olympics.
MFGSourcing: What types of suppliers did you find through MFG.com for this project?
BC: We do a lot of our own manufacturing, however some of our capabilities are limited when it comes to millwork in steel. Currently we are only setup to do aluminum milling. (We own a specialized machine that can work on 5 sides of a 40’ extrusion.) We used MFG.com for some of the steel parts. In the past we would have outsourced welding and laser cutting, but due to the size of this project it made sense to purchase equipment and bring that in house.
MFGSourcing: How much did MFG.com reduce your sourcing time on the project over your customary sources?
BC: MFG.com is great because of how easy it is to compare quotes. Sending out RFQs on your own is fine, but you’ll often receive responses sporadically and with different terms. Also MFG.com introduces you to suppliers that you wouldn’t have known existed, sometimes in your own backyard, as was the case with this project.
MFGSourcing: Do you feel like MFG.com helped you contain the project costs?
BC: MFG.com helped reduce project costs by finding new suppliers that were still local for existing parts we were currently paying a lot more for. I also like to ask suppliers when quoting what they would change on the part to make bring down costs. On two occasions this really paid off. There was one part we were paying $10 for, and the gentleman quoting had an idea that brought the cost down to under $2. Needless to say he won the bid.
MFGSourcing: What’s next for Karl’s? Any other cool projects on the horizon?
BC: Right now we are grabbing a breather from the rush of the Olympic project so we can be ready for whatever comes our way.
MFGSourcing: Thanks so much for joining me today!
Karl's Event Rental is a fantastic example of a cutting edge company, using the powerful tools and information freely available to every manufacturer to be more effective and efficient in their sourcing process and finding strong partners where they need assistance.