Food Plant Construction: Local Labor vs. Self-performing Contractors

The construction industry continues to face a tight labor market as contractors manage ongoing demand, leaving some no choice but to turn down projects if their workforce cannot meet the project needs. In 2021, more than 40% of construction firms reported turning down work due to labor shortages, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce

However, demand for construction workers is only expected to rise. In November 2021, President Joe Biden signed the $1.2 trillion bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act into law, which is expected to create an average of 1.5 million jobs each year for the next decade and provide $550 billion to improve the nation’s infrastructure over the next five years. This legislation would fund airports, ports and waterways, roads, bridges and more, which would provide food plant owners with better access to farms, raw ingredients and distribution channels. 

As demand rises, plant owners should understand the options for securing the necessary labor to complete their new-build or expansion projects and how their choices could impact the project lifecycle. 

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Remote Work Solutions We’re Making Routine Even After the Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic forced many companies to improvise as the sudden shift to remote working disrupted “business as usual” for a lot of employees. At Stellar, we had emergency plans in place to allow for an easy shift to remote work — and it was so successful that the company adopted a full-time work-from-home model for the majority of its workforce.

With restrictions easing and vaccines more readily available, we’re slowly returning to some sense of normalcy. And while there are plenty of things we won’t miss about pandemic life, there are tools and strategies that flourished over the past year that yielded more efficient, predictable and accurate project results for our clients. Let’s look at a few that are here to stay:

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Building a Food Plant on a Short Schedule: 4 Ways to Fast-track Your Construction Project

In today’s increasingly fast-paced food and beverage industry, everyone wants their next facility built as soon as possible so it can start shipping product quickly. While hiring an experienced firm to design and build (or renovate) your plant is critical, there are things owners can do to ensure a project moves as efficiently as possible.

Success story: US Cold Storage

Stellar recently designed and built a food distribution facility for US Cold Storage in Laredo, Texas. The project had an aggressive schedule, and as the senior project manager, my job was to ensure we met those deadlines.

Despite a month of unexpected weather delays, we worked creatively and brought in additional crews that worked ten-hour days and six- to seven-day weeks. This allowed us to complete the project in only eight months, just in time to harvest Mexican strawberries.

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Construction Labor Costs: 4 Ways to Avoid Budget Surprises in 2019

Photo by Matt Harding, Yuma Sun


As the economy thrives and capital investment grows, the construction market continues to face a labor shortage in 2019. This can especially be a factor when it comes to skilled labor for specialized disciplines, such as refrigeration.

What does this mean for food and beverage companies looking to build or expand? If it’s been a few years since your business has tackled a large capital investment project, you’ll need to manage expectations and plan accordingly. Today’s economy is a different playing field with different challenges.

If you’re planning to invest in a new facility, renovation or expansion, here are four things you can do to avoid budget surprises along the way.

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Augmented Reality in Building Design and Construction

Image credit: VisualLive‘s AR app, MobiLive


Augmented reality (AR) — superimposing computer-generated images on the user’s view of the real world — is increasingly used in a variety of applications today. From smartphone games and social media filters to furniture design and classroom education, this technology is being utilized across virtually every industry, and building design and construction is no exception.

In fact, exciting developments are happening at the intersection of AR and the work we do at Stellar. While it’s been used as a marketing and selling tool, we’re beginning to apply AR on job sites more frequently. It’s safe to say this powerful technology is revolutionizing the way buildings are designed, constructed and renovated.

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Procore: 4 Ways the Construction Management Software is Benefitting Our Clients

In today’s fast-paced market, companies are setting more aggressive deadlines for their construction projects and are prioritizing speed to market more than ever before. To keep up with this increasing demand, Stellar adopted the Procore construction management software to streamline our project management processes and communicate even faster.

We’ve been using the software for a couple of years, but we’ve truly realized its tangible benefits in the past several months. The bottom line? A more efficient project translates into time and cost savings for the owner. Here are four ways our clients are benefitting from this new process:

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7 Ways to Use Drones in Building Design, Construction and Maintenance

Drone technology is helping redefine the way we design, construct and maintain buildings. Drones do more than just take photos — they can benefit both the builder and owner by improving design accuracy, overall quality and long-term maintenance.

Thanks to software and technology advancements, drones can be used in various stages of a building’s life and can perform several key functions, including:

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Food Plant Construction: The Design-Build Method Continues to Grow

Business owners are increasingly discovering the benefits of working with design-build firms, according to a comprehensive new study on the design-build market released by Food Marketing Institute (FMI). The study found design-build now makes up almost half of all construction projects nationwide, and market share is expected to keep growing over the next three years.

Research showed design-build use has not only expanded across all sectors and regions of the U.S., but owners who used this project delivery method were more satisfied with their experience compared to other methods due to advantages like innovation and quick speed to market.

Here are the key takeaways from FMI’s study on the design-build market now and where it’s headed in the next few years.  

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If You’re Renovating or Expanding a Facility, You Need 3D Laser Scanning

Are you looking to expand your facility? Retrofit an existing structure? Renovate an older plant? Today’s technology makes these projects more efficient and more accurate than ever before.

3D laser scanning — and an AEC firm that knows how to leverage it effectively — are must-haves for modern-day food plant projects.

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What Is Automated Clash Detection? (And How Does It Benefit Your Facility’s Design?)

If you’re building a new facility, upwards of 50 people could be working on its design model at the same time. From electrical and mechanical engineers to architects and refrigeration specialists, it takes a team of experts from multiple disciplines to design a building and bring it to life.

So how do you know if your AEC firm is building your facility’s design model efficiently? If they’re not using smart technology, your project timeline could be longer than it has to be.

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