The Last Frontier | PCL

The Last Frontier

A household name to hunters and anglers, Cabela’s retail stores are a one-stop shop for the outdoor enthusiast. From humble beginnings in 1961, selling fishing and hunting gear by mail-order catalog, Cabela’s, the World’s Foremost Outfitter® of hunting, fishing, and outdoor gear, has transformed itself into a dominant retail force, with more than 50 stores across the United States and Canada. Large, open showrooms create a museum-like environment—a signature trait that, for some visitors, makes the store a destination in itself.

The new 136,000-square-foot Cabela’s store in
Anchorage.

Cabela’s extensive product offerings
include hunting, fishing, marine, and
camping merchandise, casual and
outdoor apparel and footwear, optics,
vehicle accessories, gifts, and home
furnishings with an outdoor theme.

Though renowned as a source of affordable, high-quality outdoor equipment, the retailer had yet to open a store in the outdoor haven of Alaska. Anchorage is now home to a 136,000-square-foot, premier Cabela’s. The store was completed in under a year and celebrated its grand opening in April 2014.

Transportation Nuances in Alaska

Navigating the complex logistics of the supply chain is a continual headache for Alaskan businesses and was a primary concern. Shipping to Alaska takes much longer than to other US locations, as the distant state is a final port of call. The PCL project team used their experience and knowledge of Alaskan shipping procedures to ease the owner’s mind by scheduling shipments within established timeframes. PCL worked with Cabela’s chosen shipping company to facilitate the delivery of very large amounts of owner-provided materials to an off-site warehouse. The PCL team ensured they were delivered on time and securely stored. A new 40,000-square-foot warehouse was built as part of the store to circumvent lengthy delivery times and to house additional stock to support the store’s anticipated sales.

Engaging a Skilled Workforce

Alaska’s population of less than one million people magnifies the challenge of sourcing and hiring skilled labor. Two other large construction projects under way in Anchorage had depleted the pool of skilled masons. PCL was nevertheless able to build a solid crew from the available talent because the company is known as a top employer that keeps crews going steadily throughout construction.
The PCL project team also minimized physical stress and risk in ways that appeal to a skilled workforce, such as by using jack-up scaffolding, which allowed the masons to lay blocks at waist level rather than having to reach to lay the blocks in place. The masons were able to work more comfortably while reducing long-term wear on their bodies.

Capitalizing on Efficiencies

Several issues with the potential to derail the schedule were dealt with during preconstruction. One aspect often overlooked in Alaska is landscaping, especially when it involves a significant amount of land. Because there are no large-scale nursery operations in the state, a majority of landscaping materials are shipped from the lower 48 states. This requires early spring procurement for a late summer installation. With the project being turned over in the winter, the best option was to procure the materials during preconstruction. This allowed for a successful summer 2013 installation, giving the owner a fully landscaped project for their grand opening.
A short summer season and varying weather affect more than landscaping, of course. The PCL team avoided incurring the additional costs of constructing under tents in winter by self-performing concrete and masonry. The building had to be dried-in before the onset of winter to meet the nonnegotiable opening date, and Cabela’s was open in time for the upcoming fishing, camping, and tourist season.

“Alaska posed a unique logistical challenge that we had not experienced,” said Tony Kurz, senior construction project manager, Cabela’s Construction/Real Estate. “We had very aggressive construction schedules, and having most of the construction materials coming from the lower 48 was our biggest concern for the Anchorage store. The PCL team was instrumental in making sure materials were on-site prior to needing them, resulting in a virtually seamless construction schedule.”

 

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