Blain’s Farm and Fleet

People entering Blain's Farm and Fleet Building

Great Looks, Sustainable Savings

Blain’s Farm and Fleet’s attractive new prototype is beautiful, eco-friendly and cost-effective.

  • Single POC

    As a corporate accounts customer, Blain's has one contact at Butler who oversees all their projects.

  • Best New Retail Development

    The project was recognized by a local business magazine.

  • 40 Years Of Proven Performance

    The roof system is backed by long-standing real-world results.

Winning Over A Community

Un-boxlike Retail

When Blain’s Farm &. Fleet chose Verona, a suburb of Madison, Wisconsin, for their 34th outlet, city officials originally opposed them. Verona had strict limitations on building big-box retail in their community. Once they saw what Blain’s proposed, the officials changed their minds. The new building would indeed be big—114,500 square feet—but it would be attractive, un-boxlike and very easy on the environment. Plans even called for the relocation of the trees on the 14-acre, heavily wooded site, formerly the grounds of an old nursing home.

“Verona did not push for the green aspects of our project. We did that on our own. We had contemplated upgrading the architectural image for new stores for several years. The circumstances in Verona made it the logical candidate to receive the new prototype. We took it a step beyond just an upgraded façade, to embody a green building program that offered both initial cost savings and long-term operational benefits.”

Neal VanLoo, Blain’s Farm & Fleet 

A Topnotch Team

VanLoo heads an engineering department within Blain’s that develops conceptual designs and specifications for proposed projects before hiring a third party to refine and execute them. Dave Wynn, Blain’s project manager, worked closely with Design Structures, a Butler Builder® with offices in Wisconsin and Oregon, and architectural and engineering firms Potter Lawson Inc. and Strand Associates, both of Madison, Wisconsin, to complete the Verona project.

Early in the process, the design/build team went to confer with Butler engineers in Kansas City. Blain’s has been a Butler corporate client for 16 years, and the company used Butler systems long before that. VanLoo notes that as a corporate client, he has a single source at Butler to call for help in guiding his projects in the right direction.

“I have also gotten to know people within Butler. We know what to expect from them, and they know what to expect from us. It’s a two-way street."

Neal VanLoo, Blain’s Farm & Fleet 

Like all Blain’s stores, the new prototype combines building systems with conventional construction methods and materials. To answer his team’s questions about detailing the building, VanLoo recalls,

Sustainability And Energy Conservation

The prototype’s many sustainable features are based on the LEED Green Building Rating. System promoted by the U.S. Green Building Council. Although the project was not intend-ed to undergo the formal LEED certification process, it incorporated many features inspired by it.

Based on a Landmark™ 2000 structural system and MR-24® standing seam roof system, the building has low-maintenance walls of insulated precast concrete panels, split-face block and horizontal and vertical architectural metal panels. The Butler® systems were among the recycled and recyclable materials used in the building, and the MR-24® roof system has a record of 40 years of proven low-maintenance sustain-ability in the field.

Energy Conservation Was Nothing New For Blain’s Farm & Fleet

“All of our buildings are super-insulated—typically with 50 percent more wall and roof insulation than minimum code requirements. For the past 25 years, we’ve wanted 9 inches of fiberglass in the ceiling and 6 inches in most walls. We want precast concrete wall panels, cast with a minimum of 3 inches of rigid-board insulation.”

Neal VanLoo, Blain’s Farm & Fleet 

In this case, the prototype’s well-insulated roof system also supported 161 skylights that use a solar-powered GPS rotation control system to stay aligned with the sun. The units capture sunlight from an hour after sunrise to an hour before sunset. Diffusers distribute the daylight over a 400-square-foot area of the sales floor, providing up to 10 times the amount of daylight attainable from conventional skylights.

With 161 penetrations for the skylights, it was necessary to guard the roof against leaks.

“Butler actually worked with us all the way through the curb design work and with their authorized vendor—and they had somebody on site to make sure that the flashings were being sealed in properly.”

Neal VanLoo, Blain’s Farm & Fleet 

Daylight from the skylights was augmented by clerestory windows in the vertical elements spaced along the storefront, which also increase the building’s curb appeal. The combined natural illumination was estimated at the equivalent of 800 watts of fluorescent lighting, or more than a 1,000-watt metal halide lamp.

The new store’s sales floor uses photocell-controlled, energy-efficient fixtures for artificial lighting, which are often not necessary during the day. Outside, the store swapped neon signage for LED lighting, for a projected 70 percent energy savings.

The project’s plumbing also contributes significant savings. The store has instant water heaters, reducing energy consumption, and there are waterless urinals in the rest-rooms—a feature estimated to save 40,000 gallons of water annually per unit.

Eco-Friendly Construction And Landscaping

Rather than remove material from the demolished nursing home from the site, Design Structures crushed and used much of it and the old parking lot as backfill. This eliminated the expense of exchanging an estimated 300 truckloads of rubble for virgin fill.

Design Structures’ careful pre-planning and use of systems construction also resulted in less scrap at the site, and they separated around 20 percent of the dumpster waste at the site for recycling.

The preservation of 120 trees at the site—transplanted after construction to create an acoustical barrier between a park and the store—made the store even more attractive and popular with its new customers.

“Not only are Blain’s Farm & Fleet and Design Structures proud of this building, but the city of Verona is, also."

Neal VanLoo, Blain’s Farm & Fleet 

The company and contractor won an award for the new store from In Business Magazine, the business magazine for the greater Madison area, for “Best New Development for Retail.”

Blain’s Farm & Fleet is already planning to renovate some existing stores to comply with the new prototype. Design Structures is working on one of the first, a Butler® building in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, built during the ‘80s. VanLoo anticipates that the project will go as smoothly as did Verona.

“It all comes back to the relationship that we have with Butler and with Design Structures. When we put together a contractor and a supplier that have their act together, it makes my life and my department’s life a lot easier.”

Neal VanLoo, Blain’s Farm & Fleet