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Business Observer Friday, Sep. 6, 2019 2 years ago

By tapping into needs of several entities, construction firm develops niche in cold storage facilities

Lakewood Ranch-based Halfacre Construction Co. has done over 20 cold storage projects — and counting.
by: Grier Ferguson Sarasota-Manatee Editor

Halfacre Construction Co. has been heating up the cold storage project space for quite some time.

The Lakewood Ranch-based firm started doing cold storage facilities in 1996 with a project for Port Manatee. It included work at the port’s administration building as well as a freezer and cold storage space for Del Monte Foods. Since then, says Halfacre President Jack Cox, it’s done over 1 million square feet at the port.

Courtesy. Jack Cox, president of Halfacre Construction Co., says the company started building cold storage facilities in 1996 and has done over 20 projects since then.

Halfacre got into cold storage organically, largely gaining new projects through word of mouth.

Over the years, the firm has done work for packing houses that handle crops such as tomatoes, cucumbers and oranges. It’s also done several projects for brewing company Anheuser-Busch.  

What’s happening now, Cox says, is Anheuser-Busch is distributing so many craft beers it’s having to add size and capacity to its cold storage facilities to handle the uptick. The cold storage facility it completed at Peace River Distributing in 2018, for instance, is directly related to more people drinking craft beer, says Cox.

“You have to create a very tight envelope on the building and not let outside air in.” — Jack Cox, president, Halfacre Construction Co.

For most of its cold storage projects, Halfacre handles the design for its clients. Team members meet with the clients to discuss their temperature requirements and how they want to store products within the facility. Halfacre takes it from there.

“They’re typically more industrial-type buildings,” says Cox. They tend to involve loading docks, electrical work and sophisticated refrigeration systems.

Courtesy. At Gold Coast Eagle Distributing in Lakewood Ranch, Halfacre completed a 150,000-square-foot cold storage project.

Freezers, of course, are colder than refrigerated facilities and have higher insulation values. “One of the big issues in Florida when you do freezer space is the ground freezes below it,” Cox says. “You have to heat the ground below it. You have to put all that in before you start the building.”

Halfacre has done over 20 cold storage projects — and counting. It has a project coming up that involves 50,000 square feet of cold storage and more projects likely ahead. Cox says, “There are always projects up around Port Manatee we’re working on.”

Projects: Cold storage facilities

Builder: Halfacre Construction Co.

Challenges: The biggest challenges with cold storage projects, says Halfacre Construction President Jack Cox, are the complex control systems for cooling. “There are a lot of different options,” he says. “Everyone has different types of temperature settings they want.” Another challenge comes with the nature of the project itself: “You have to create a very tight envelope on the building and not let outside air in,” Cox says.

Key cold storage projects:

  • Peace River Distributing, 2018, Punta Gorda, 5,000 square feet
  • Manatee County Sheriff’s Office, 2018, Port Manatee, 5,000 square feet
  • Ohio Eagle Distributing, 2017, Cincinnati, 75,000 square feet
  • Utopia Packing, 2012, Myakka City, 50,000 square feet
  • Gold Coast Eagle Distributing, 2008, Lakewood Ranch, 150,000 square feet
  • Blue Bell Creameries, 2008, Charlotte County, 30,000 square feet



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