New Home for Southern Foods

When Southern Foods, a full-service meats,

seafood, artisanal cheese and global

specialty goods supplier that performs

custom processing, decided to expand in

Greensboro, North Carolina, it reached out to design-build

firm A M King. Their task? Convert an 88,000-square-foot

spec shell warehouse into a one-of-a-kind, innovative,

modern United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)

regulated meat, seafood and cheese processing facility.


Matt Miller, Senior Project Manager for

A M King says the project involved separate

meat, fish and cheese processing areas, a dry

age meat room, separate refrigerated dock and

dry dock for inbound and outbound distribution,

culinary center with commercial kitchen

and first floor and mezzanine office space.

And, they had to relocate all of the clients’

existing equipment, plus new equipment, into

a much smaller building footprint with room

to grow.


“The first thing we had to consider was

what the existing building had to offer and

what we would have to do to get it ready for

everything we needed to put in it,” Miller

says. “An important goal of this project, for

both Southern Foods and A M King, was

to use as much of the existing building as

possible. We’re extremely familiar with the

complex nature of food facility design and

construction, however, this particular process

of adapting existing structures to meet

USDA food facility requirements was

exceptionally challenging.”


Challenges of the Job

Since the original building was designed as

a standard dry warehouse, it did not support

the level of mechanical and fire protection

systems required for a facility where 50

percent of the square footage of space would

be refrigerated.


Jami Lloyd, Architectural Designer at

A M King, notes in order to keep the existing

precast walls, roof and supporting structure,

the design needed to isolate the steel members

and exterior walls from the interior spaces.

“We were able to do this with a system

of insulated metal panel walls, liner panels,

baffles and ceilings,” she says. “This gave us

the proper framework to both physically and

thermally maintain the new systems that are required to control refrigeration temperatures

for processing and storage of food. In

addition, we ensured that the fire suppression

system would operate as required in the case

of an emergency.”


Another challenge was getting the facility

ready a month and a half earlier than scheduled,

as Southern Foods was required to

relocate from its previous facility sooner than

initially planned.


“A coordination meeting was scheduled

with the subcontractors, and it was determined

that in order to achieve this new

timeline, the construction team would require

overtime for labor to expedite key pieces of equipment and coordinate a plan with the

city building officials,” Miller said. “Through

the consolidated effort of all parties, the new

project end date was achieved.”


Meeting Safety Requirements

Once the structure was addressed, the design

team turned its attention to the food safety

and sanitation concerns of the new facility.

Tackling the specialty floor, Lloyd explains

the team utilized Stonhard Brand Stonclad

UT flooring, a high-strength industrial floor

coating with a polyurethane 4 component

mortar system that combines a urethane-urea

binder, pigments and quartz aggregates. “This coating is known for its high impact

resistance, abrasion, thermal shock and

chemical resistance,” she says. “We installed this

coating over all concrete slabs in the food processing

areas to provide a protective layer over

our slab. Thus, we were able to prevent food

particles from absorbing into the concrete slab

and minimized the risk of bacterial growth.

The aggregate is mixed in to provide a textured

slip resistant finish for ensured safety.”


Additionally, the team installed numerous

trench and floor drains and sloped floor slab

to those drains so that when the processing

rooms are washed down, the water self-drains

until none remains.


KEITH LORIA is an award-winning journalist who has been writing for major newspapers and magazines for close to 20 years, on topics as diverse as sports, business and technology. 

Source: Cold Facts Mar/Apr 2021 issue