Rydalch Electric gets in on the excitement of Cabela’s startup:

Hunting aficianados know and love Cabela’s and what it stands for; it’s one of those stores that oozes the outdoors, from its taxidermy bears to its woodsmen displays. When a new store goes up, the community watches and waits, and Rydalch Electric got in on the excitement when it was called in as the lead electrical contractor for the Utah project.

Founded in 1961 as a small merchant that offered fishing flies through advertisements in national outdoor magazines, Cabela’s Inc., Sidney, Neb., has grown from a small, direct mail-order business into a multichannel retail model, including catalogs, the Internet and destination retail stores around the country. The company’s extensive product offering consists of approximately 245,000 items and includes hunting, fishing, marine and camping merchandise, casual and outdoor apparel and footwear, optics, vehicle accessories, and gifts and home furnishings with an outdoor theme.

To further leverage the Cabela’s brand, the company opened its first destination retail store in 1987 and completed its 14th in 2005. Stores range in size from 35,000 to 247,000 square feet, with the larger-format facilities (150,000 square feet or larger) featuring wildlife displays and large aquariums. The stores are designed to reinforce the company’s outdoor lifestyle image and provide tourist and entertainment shopping experiences for customers. In fact, two of the Cabela’s stores, Kansas City, Kan., and Owatonna, Minn., are ranked among the top tourist attractions in their respective states.

Project team
When Cabela’s decides to build a new store, its established team of designers, architects and engineers select a general contractor in the area to manage the project. In the fall of 2004, Cabela’s awarded a contract to Okland Construction, Salt Lake City, to build the company’s latest 150,000-square-foot, two-story facility on 50 acres in the Traverse Mountain Development near Thanksgiving Point, Utah.

The new, $30 million commercial complex is a structural steel building with precast panels and a vaulted, architectural metal roof. The interior’s signature features include a 30-foot-high mountain replica with running waterfalls and streams, a trout pond and trophy animals in pseudo-habitats, a massive freshwater aquarium stocked with fish native to the area, museum-quality representations and dioramas of many wild-game species (one devoted to African game animals), a restaurant, a gun library, a full-service fly-fishing shop, a shooting gallery and an indoor archery range.

Standard operating procedure for Cabela’s is to fast-track construction of new stores, so Okland turned to a select group of local electrical contractors that the company believed could handle a large project in an eight-month time frame and requested bids for the $3 million traditional electrical and low-voltage installation.

Rydalch Electric, headquartered in Salt Lake City, was one of the contractors approached by Okland to submit a cost proposal, which the company did late in 2004.

“Rydalch was already on our short list of prequalified bidders. We thought they could offer the most value for the price, and that they had the staff and ability to build the facility on schedule,” said Jeremy Blanck, project director for Okland Construction. By the beginning of 2005, Rydalch had received the contract award, based both on the value of its bid, which was not the lowest, and because Okland and Rydalch Electric have worked together for more than 20 years on projects in the institutional, commercial, retail and healthcare vertical markets.

“We have developed an excellent working relationship with Okland over the years, which is based on trust, communication and successful performance,” said Mark Rydalch, vice president of Rydalch Electric.

Because Cabela’s maintains tight control over the design and construction of any new facility, Rydalch Electric worked completely with products specified by the architect and engineer. Rydalch does, however, offer design/build services that combine engineering, computerized drafting, and construction expertise that provides customers with a cost-effective approach for the design.

Life in the fast lane
With only until September 2005 to complete the project, Rydalch maintained an average of 30 electricians on-site, with a peak of 62, to work on the power distribution, lighting, fire alarm, teledata, sound, loss prevention and ShopperTrak systems.

From the Rocky Mountain Power utility transformer located behind the store, power had to be run to the main 3,200-amp switchboard in the electrical room. From there, power was routed through three main distribution panels to 58 branch-circuit panels scattered throughout the building. The branch circuits feed power to all of the mechanical equipment, specialized displays, power outlets, lighting and the building’s 200 floor boxes.

“We were also responsible for installing the 2,000 kW backup power generator,” said Joe Hancock, project manager. The generator is hardwired through three automatic transfer switches (ATS) to the three main distribution panels to power the facility in the event of an outage.

Lighting was a big part of the project, and a large percentage of the installation was designed to spotlight merchandise.

“We must have installed close to 3,000 feet of track lighting fixtures,” said Dave Gray, site superintendent. Rydalch electricians also installed close to 100 decorative high-bay fixtures suspended 30 to 60 feet; specialty fixtures, such as an antler-shaped chandelier; hot T5 cabinet lighting in the gun library; high-bay specialty lighting for the aquarium; 50 antique lantern-style lamps in the cafeteria; 250-watt metal-halides that shine through the building’s center-skylights for night illumination; and about 60 customized decorative site lighting poles with 150-watt metal-halide lamp sources. In total, Rydalch installed about 4,000 light fixtures.

“Lighting control is accomplished through a PowerLink system from Square D Co. [Palatine, Ill.]. PowerLink controls lighting levels through programmable breakers rather than by relays, time clocks or photocells,” Hancock said.

Approximately 400 devices make up the building’s fire alarm system, including pull stations; strobes; speaker strobes; smoke, duct, and heat detectors; and flow and tamper switches. Each device is programmable and wiring is run from each unit and terminated in the fire alarm panel in the main security room. One remote annunciator was installed near the front door for firefighters’ use.

The actual installation of the teledata system was subcontracted out to CVE Telecom, Salt Lake City, which pulled Category 5e structured cabling from the four telephone and data racks in the telephone room to the 275 phone and data jacks located at each cash register location, in offices and in the 200 floor boxes. The rest of the installation consisted of 323 speakers for intercom communication and for playing music, the electronic article surveillance (EAS) devices at exits to prevent shoplifting, and the ShopperTrak system, which consisted of installing counters at the front door, at the top of each elevator and at the top of the main staircase.

Overcoming challenges
By far, the greatest challenge on this project was the fast-track schedule. With only eight months for completion, the Rydalch Electric team began to meet the challenge by submitting its materials list to the architect for approval just one week after receiving the notice to proceed from Okland Construction.

“On a more traditional construction schedule for a job this size, that process alone can take up to eight weeks,” said Frank Rydalch, president. After receiving the architect’s approval, the materials were ordered, and all purchase orders to the suppliers clearly included instructions for fast-tracking delivery.

With scheduling as critical as it was, Rydalch Electric worked closely with the Okland project team, including job superintendent Dave Kasteler, to facilitate meeting schedules and communication, immediately resolving any issues that arose on-site.

“Rydalch Electric met all the deadlines given, was responsive to requirements and was committed to ensuring that the project was completed successfully,” Blanck said.

The fast-track schedule also put pressure on coordinating the work with other trades. Daily objectives had to be constantly refined and any changes had to be communicated immediately and clearly to all of the trades’ field staffs. “The experience of all of the field and supervisory personnel in fast-track environments and the quality of the entire work force enabled us to respond quickly to issues and resolve them in a way that did not negatively affect the construction schedule,” concluded Frank Rydalch.

BREMER, a freelance writer based in Solomons, Md., contributes frequently to ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR. She can be reached at 410.394.6966 or by e-mail at darbremer@comcast.net.

PROJECT PARTNERS
Cabela’s Inc.—Owner
Okland Construction—General contractor
Rydalch Electric—Lead electrical contractor and low-voltage installer
CVE Telecom—Teledata System
Crabtree, Rohrbaugh & Associates—Architect
Barton Associates Inc.—Engineer

KEY SUPPLIERS
ADT—Loss prevention system
Clarity Audio—Sound system
Codale Electric Supply—Light fixtures
CVE Telecom—Teledata system
Graybar Electric Co.—Electrical gear
Lassco Sound & Systems LLC—Fire alarm system
Square D Co.—Lighting control