As we gather together an inventory of things that need to be stored, the efforts we make to store these items efficiently become ever more complex. This is a need understood to the last shelf by a company called SpaceRak, which operates in the industry as one of the leading providers of storage solutions.
SpaceRak, a division of Tarpon Industries, traces its origin to the Eugene Welding Company, its parent firm founded in 1945. EWCO, as it is known today, began operations in Flint, Mich., on a very modest basis, fabricating tubular frames for the understructure of mobile homes. As the mobile home industry expanded and prospered in the 1950s, the company’s tubing business also expanded, and EWCO developed a national reputation for products of high quality at competitive prices. Eventually the company moved to much larger facilities in Marysville, Mich.
In the late 1960s the SpaceRak Division was formed expressly to design and manufacture storage rack systems, and since then, SpaceRak has grown to be one of the country’s leading suppliers of storage rack systems for distribution centers, warehouses and retail home center chains. “Our line of products today includes racks of every type for nearly every kind of warehousing applications and storage technology,” explains Senior Vice President of Sales, Marketing and Engineering Dave Weaver. “SpaceRak’s experienced engineering group has pioneered many new concepts in the industry, and strives to stay in the forefront of new developments that improve warehousing efficiency for our customers.”
In March 2004, EWCO was purchased by an investment group called Wall Street Investors. The company was then taken public along with a newly purchased tubing group in Canada called SteelBank. “As of February 2005 we were publicly held as Tarpon Industries (TPO) trading on the NASDAQ stock exchange. Currently at $90 million in sales, Tarpon’s plan is to be 250 million by 2008,” Weaver adds. “We remain today, as we began many years ago, a company still driven by our commitment to product excellence and a strong dedication to customer service.”
Racking up accomplishments
Among the many projects completed by SpaceRak, he explains, was the man aboard ASRS system provided by Raymond and Lansing lift equipment. “We standardized on the special parts required to go with the standard beams and frames in these high rise systems. Cross aisle ties, top guidance systems and a floor system were part of these standards.” At present, he adds, the company is working on ASRS Racking systems for fully automated cranes in heights of over 100 feet. “We also provide a majority of products for the retail lumber business, both the big boxes and the independent owner. We were involved in the retail accessories for Home Depot that are used with the selective rack and cantilever rack to display their product. We have a patent on a display for fans and lights used in the lumber industry,” he notes. At this time, most large storage rack systems are becoming part of the building process, Weaver points out. This means that the rack structure must meet the local building codes and that the manufacturer must provide stamped drawing and calculations for each project. Most building codes in this country have now accepted the IBC, which uses RMI (Rack Manufactures Institute) specifications as the code for racking. This requires a lot more engineering detail to projects that use to be just simple orders of product. “We are working with several outside engineering concerns that can provide this information in all 50 states,” Weaver says.
SpaceRak maintains 240,000 square feet of production space in Marysville and Marlette combined. The company also has a tube mill in Mississauga, Ontario measuring 50,000 square feet. “We are in the process of several capital improvements to provide better painting of our product and a better flow through our manufacturing process,” Weaver adds.
In these facilities the company manufactures a diverse product line of pallet and drive in racks; cantilever racks; flow racks; push back racks; pick modules and archival storage modules; carton flow systems; rack supported buildings; cantilever for lumber, freezer and ASRS; structural mezzanines; mobile racks and pallet stacking racks for in facility use and for shipping. More specifically, SpaceRak can deliver following solutions:
• Selective storage rack: SpaceRak selective pallet racks are designed and engineered to meet a select set of quality standards that assure the user optimum storage efficiency, easy loading and retrieval, safety, and performance. The company offers one of the largest selections of sizes and capacities in both upright frames and beams, as well as a wide array of accessories and special components for customizing a SpaceRak system to handle the exact mix and configuration of the loads you store and retrieve.
• Drive-in/drive-thru rack: These racks eliminate conventional traffic aisles, permitting maximum use of space for high density, floor-to-ceiling palletized storage. Both drive-in and drive-thru systems offer the advantages of high-density storage, lower costs, and greater throughput.
• Pushback rack: SpaceRak teams up with Advance Storage Products to offer the patented Lo-Pro pushback system. Choose from a variety of layout configurations, ranging from two- to six-pallet positions deep, with variable bay widths to accommodate single-wide or double-wide pallet rows. Pallets can also be stored up to four levels high, or more, consistent with the reach and handling capabilities of storage and retrieval vehicles.
• Cantibolt cantilever rack: SpaceRak Cantibolt cantilever racks feature a sturdy roll-formed construction, allowing it to be more economical in relatively light loading applications while maintaining the ruggedness and selectivity that users of cantilever rack are accustomed to. SpaceRak Cantibolt systems are ideal for both manufacturing warehouse and retail store applications, and have become quite popular in the furniture manufacturing industry.
• Canti-I-Beam cantilever rack: SpaceRak Cantibeam cantilever rack components are manufactured entirely from high-strength structural steel in order to create the most rugged and impact-resistant cantilever rack possible. Cantibeam cantilever racks are widely used in many industries for storing materials such as tubing, pipe, poles, lumber, and other items of long-length, irregular shape or configuration. They are also extensively used in the lumber and building materials industry for outdoor yard storage structures such as T-sheds and rack supported “drive-thru” buildings.
This array of products places SpaceRak in the top 10 to 12 manufacturers of storage racks in this country,” Weaver adds, pointing to the company’s 40 percent growth in sales in 2004 and 4 percent growth last year. “Our current goal is 10 percent for 2006,” he adds.
All this and services too
There are many services the company offers that enable customers to further optimize its product lineup to get the best solution possible for their need. SpaceRak provides complete planning and layout services, from preliminary ideas and initial concept to final layout plan. With nearly 50 years of experience in the manufacture of rack systems and related components, the company has amassed the necessary systems and equipment to be a major producer of high quality, high value rack products in the industry. “Whether you’re building a new distribution center or renovating an older warehouse; whether it’s in the center of Manhattan or the wheat fields of Kansas, SpaceRak can provide the installation services it takes to get your racks up and ready for storage on time,” the company attests.
SpaceRak can integrate and oversee all phases of a warehouse project, including assistance with building design, material handling equipment selection, compliance with fire and seismic code requirements, and any other elements you wish us to handle. In addition, the company operates nationally through a field sales and service network of more than 200 material handling distributors. These local representatives are, for the most part, experienced rack specialists who can supplement our own central planning, engineering and layout services. They are also fully supported by our own field service resources.
“The SpaceRak reputation has been built on a single overriding principle; to provide the best value possible to our customers. It has always been our focus to design, engineer and manufacture storage rack systems that are of the highest quality, at prices that are truly competitive, and back it all up with superior customer service,” Weaver concludes.