Build It and They Will Come

by David Peters

Where would you expect to find a 65-foot-tall Ferris wheel, a shooting gallery, hundreds of exotic salt water fish and 24 flavors of Granny's delicious homemade fudge?

If you said the county fair, while you may be technically correct, that's not the answer we were going for here. What we're talking about is 220,000 square feet of total sensory overload. We're talking about the second largest All Sports Store in the world! We're talking about Scheels, and they built it just down the road from Wood's Powr-Grip, in nearby Billings, Montana.

The sheer magnitude of the building materials required for construction is mind-boggling:

  • 185,000 bricks (about 800 tons)
  • 1,400 pieces (about 180 tons) of precast stone
  • 350 cubic yards [268 cubic meters] of mortar
  • 26,000 pieces (about 1,500 tons) of structural steel
  • 23,000 high-strength bolts
  • 12 miles [19 km] of cedar battens and 300,000 fasteners for the atrium roof
  • 4,000 sheets of exterior sheathing
  • 8,000 sheets of drywall and 3,500 gallons of drywall mud
  • 72,000 sq. ft. [6,690 m2] of ceramic tile for the floor
  • 12,000 sq. yds. [10,034 m2] of carpet
  • 2.8 miles [5 km] of heating and cooling pipe
  • 6.6 miles [11 km] of radiant and snow melting piping
  • 250 miles [402 km] of wire and data cable
  • 138 miles [222 km] of electrical wiring
  • 4,000 light fixtures
  • A 16,000 gallon [60,567 liters] salt water aquarium, measuring 40 feet [12 m] long, 8 feet [2.5 m] wide and 14 feet [4 m] tall (source: The Billings Gazette)

Now completed, the Scheels All Sports Store offers $1 rides on the 65-foot Ferris wheel each day. It has a 35-foot-tall mountain, showcasing a variety of animals of the taxidermy kind. A Walk of Presidents has been incorporated for the entertainment and education of children and adults alike. There is a child's play area, a carnival-style shooting gallery, video hunting games, a two-lane bowling alley, an indoor shooting range, more than 300 fish in the aquarium, a deli, photo areas, bronze statues, rows and rows and rows of clothes, boots and shoes, camping gear, sporting goods for hunting, fishing, basketball, football, soccer, baseball, tennis, hockey, bicycling virtually every sport and (insert long air-sucking breath here), overhead, there is an expansive skylight that illuminates it all.

So the next question is "Where would you expect to find Wood's Powr-Grip in the midst of this spectacular wonder?" Wherever you are in the store, just look up and the answer is obvious: the glass installation.

The skylight in the Scheels store was designed by Imperial Glass Structures of Wheeling, Illinois, and was installed by Skycraft Custom Skylights & Canopies, based out of Ashville Alabama. All in all, the skylight consists of 676 lites, weighing about 150 lbs [70 kg] per pane of glass. The skylight comprises 11,500 square feet [1,580 m2] of ceiling space.

To install the glass, Skycraft employed a vacuum lifter from Wood's Powr-Grip: the P1 Vacuum Lifter. An enormous boom crane raised the lifter 100 feet [31 m] to the roof of the building. One worker cleaned the surface of the glass, while two installers positioned the lifter on the glass. The glass was then flown into position on the roof, where three glazers gently guided it into place in the aluminum framework. The whole skylight installation process took about one month during the summer of 2013.

With 700 lbs [320 kg] load capacity, the P1 Vacuum Lifter was perfect for the job. Since the installation required the glass to be placed at an angle, the 90° tilt motion of the P1 provided the necessary versatility to accommodate proper installation. For safety, the Dual Vacuum System (DVS) of this lifter features two completely independent vacuum circuits, allowing the vacuum lifter to maintain the vacuum level for one circuit even if an unexpected vacuum loss occurs in the other one. This helps reduce the risk of falling loads should an accident or breakage compromise one area of the vacuum system. In addition, the DVS features audible and visible alarms that warn the operator whenever the vacuum level is not sufficient for lifting the maximum load weight. At almost 100 feet above the ground without a net, the power loss warning buzzer and the low vacuum warning buzzer provided additional peace of mind to the installers.

The P1 was also designed with a high-flow vacuum pump and blow-off feature. The high-flow pump provides faster attach times, and the blow-off enables quicker release. These, coupled with the reduced power consumption of the P1, increased productivity and helped the Skycraft installers stay on schedule.

When visiting the new Scheels All Sports Store, the customer is greeted by the magnificent skylight. Besides providing much needed light in this enormous facility, its cathedral-like appearance adds to the wonder and awe of the total shopping experience. Wood's Powr-Grip is proud to have played a small but crucial role in bringing this retail wonderland into existence.

And now youre asking "Where can I get one of these glass lifting wonders?" It's simple! Just visit the Wood's Powr-Grip Authorized Dealer nearest you.

David Peters had more than 40 years experience in sales and marketing. He was the marketing associate for Wood's Powr-Grip Co., Inc., responsible for interactive marketing, tracking, market research and new product introduction.