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Legend Valve gave us a look at a nearly $4 million expansion to its Auburn Hills, Michigan headquarters that added 60,000 square feet of warehousing space.
“We’ll grow into it,” said Wade Tennant, the company’s director of marketing. The cavernous space with a ceiling height of 30 feet was still very much a work in progress at the time of our visit in April. Since then, Tennant says some racking has been installed with much more on the way.
Construction started a year ago and was wrapped up last November. To know how important the new space is to Legend, it helps to understand the origins of the building the company has called home since 2011.
Any visitor’s first question driving up to the headquarters will be to wonder why a PVF manufacturer has such a spacious parking lot. The answer? The building used to be a Wal-Mart. Any NFL fan will also know the location since it’s across the street, more or less, from the old Pontiac Silverdome. In fact, Tennant, who only joined the company last year, realized he’d bought a hibachi grill at the old Wal-Mart for a tailgate party years before after he walked into the building for his job interview.
While Legend heavily reconfigured the site as the company prepared to move in, there is only so much that can be done to turn even a former big box retailer site into an effective warehouse facility. A walk back behind the administrative space shows racks organized in a VNA (Very Narrow Aisle) system. Material handling equipment runs by low-voltage wire embedded into the floor. But the biggest limitation to shelving product was the height that only reached at most 18 feet.
“The expansion was just meant to be used for warehousing since we’d done as much as we could with the former space,” Tennant adds.
Also, when Legend originally moved into the 151,000-square-foot building, the company used its own VersaTherm radiant snap-fit radiant floor heating system in about 18,000 square feet of the structure. Likewise, the company installed its QuickTherm panels around a 20-foot perimeter under the concrete slab of the new warehouse.
The complete mechanics of the heating system for the new warehouse are very much on display and used as a working example for students taking classes at Legend University.
During our visit about 30 contractors were attending a two-day session at the “Big House,” which offers classroom instruction and hands-on training in a full array of radiant heating and cooling applications, including a LoopCAD software workshop.
“Attendees receive a special introductory price for LoopCAD with Legend add-on,” Tennant explains. “We’ll even provide a laptop for attendees during training if they don’t have one.”
Meanwhile, the expansion isn’t the only thing new at the company’s headquarters.
Legend invested in extrusion equipment at the Michigan site about five years ago to manufacture its HyperPure PE-RT (Bimodal Polyethylene, Raised Temperature) tubing for plumbing installation that is 100 percent recyclable.
“The benefits of HyperPure are that it’s flexible so it lays flat, making it easier to install,” Tennant adds. It’s also backed by the company’s 100-year warranty.
The company had been operating one extruder at the headquarters, but added a second last year. The new one is more automated than the original machine, but both are capable of turning out 100 feet of pipe in 60 seconds for about 100,000 linear feet a day. Each roll of HyperPure proudly includes a “Made in Michigan” symbol.
Founded in 1988, Legend Valve distributes 10,000 different products for more than 80 types of residential, commercial and industrial applications. The company operates another warehousing facility in Reno, Nevada.