STORAGE SPACE New building's expanded warehouse and fleet space will improve member service
Many of the benefits of South Alabama Electric Cooperative’s new facility will be apparent to members as soon as they walk in the front door. Others, like expanded warehouse and fleet space, will exist behind the scenes but still make tremendous improvements to how the cooperative serves members.
The new warehouse will more than double the available floor space, allowing materials currently stored outdoors to be secured inside. The new space will also be designed for forklift use, which will help employees move large materials more efficiently.
“We had to modify the doorway to the current warehouse just to get a forklift inside,” says Ronald Wade, SAEC’s manager of engineering and operations. “The new warehouse will be tall enough to have a forklift moving around without worrying about running into anything.”
The new facility will also add office space to the ware-house for employees who currently have limited room. There will be a dedicated foreman’s room where the heads of each team will have their own desk, along with offices for the engineering and construction superintendents. There will also be a dedicated meeting room for monthly safety briefings and any other training.
“That additional office space is going to help us serve the members better because we’ll be able to carry on business about new construction projects without interference from other employees or conversations happening in the same office,” Wade says.
Because the Rural Utilities Service requires SAEC to maintain all work orders and records of loan funds for 33 years, the new warehouse will even feature ventilation and storage to protect those records from deterioration.
Meanwhile, the expanded fleet space will protect all of the cooperative’s vehicles and provide room for growth. The current facility only provides cover for 10 vehicles, meaning the majority of SAEC’s 37-vehicle fleet — and the materials they are loaded with — are exposed to the elements.
“With the new facility, we’ll have enough space for all vehicles to park out of the weather and room for future growth of about another eight to 10 vehicles,” Wade says.
The building is also designed to keep the flow of employee and member traffic separate, so members visiting the ware-house to pick up a new water heater or other equipment will not have to worry about being in the way of cooperative vehicles. The expanded space will also mean SAEC can have any necessary materials available when a need arises.
“Having everything on hand without having to wait for it will be a big benefit for members,” Wade says. “We’ll be able to get jobs done in a more timely manner.”
An architectural rendering shows the improvements that will be made to SAEC's warehouse and truck bays.