Friday, September 30, 2011

Local Michigan Businesses Prove Up to The Task Of Helping The City of Belding Achieve An Improved Lighting System

Local Michigan Businesses Prove Up to The Task Of Helping The City of Belding

Achieve An Improved Lighting System Randy DeBruine Belding, Michigan's City Manager Belding, Michigan is a quiet but progressive community, with a tremendously rich history and a promising future, situated between orchards and cornfields along the Flat River. As a city we strive to maintain a community where our citizens will thrive. One of our goals is to continually make our city safer than it already is. As a small town, however, we often have limited financial resources to pursue large-scale safety enhancements. Consequently, we have pursued funding for smaller but equally as important safety improvements through federal and State of Michigan grants. One such application met with approval and enabled us to implement a program for significantly improving our city. The Project: M-44 Enhancement In 2009, the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) awarded the City of Belding with a $650,000 enhancement grant for sidewalks, pathway, decorative lights, and trees to improve M-44 within the City of Belding. M-44 is a 37.4-mile (60.2 km) highway that runs northward from the intersection of M-11, 28th street and M-37 toward the Rockford area. The highway then turns eastward to Belding, and it ends six miles (10 km) north of Ionia at M-66. Our project included M-44 in Belding from Orchard St. to Hall Street. The total cost for the project was $1.2 million and included sidewalks, 200 trees and 84 historic lamps. In finding professional contractors and other suppliers to complete these projects, it was very important to us to work with as many local and Michigan businesses as possible. As most of the country is aware, the State of Michigan has suffered dramatic economic challenges during recent years and our commitment was to support as many area companies and individuals as possible.

For the lighting portion of this project, we were fortunate to have three local businesses awarded the contracts. The engineering contract was awarded to Fleis and Vanderbrink Grand Rapids, Michigan. The electrical installation bid went to J.R. Howell Airport Lighting, Luther, Michigan. Stahlin Non-Metallic Enclosures, Belding, Michigan provided us with six customized green enclosures to house the lighting controls. The Three Local Businesses: Awarded Contracts: Their Backgrounds Fleis and Vanderbrink Larry Fleis, P.E. and Steve Vanden Brink, P.E., formed F&V in 1993. Combined, they provide more than 50 years experience in the engineering field. The firm was recognized by the Detroit News as the 25th fastest growing privately owned company in Michigan over the five-year period from 1994 to 1998. This growth is due mainly to repeat business from existing clients. F&V has a staff of more than 100 professionals, 30 of which are registered engineers and surveyors. The key to their success is obtaining repeat business from their clients. Over the past 5 years, more than 20 communities have chosen F&V as their primary source for engineering consultation. They feel this fact is due to their responsiveness, service, professional integrity and staff experience. J R Howell Airport Lighting: Background

J R Howell Airport Lighting, Llc is a private company categorized under Electrical Designers and located in Luther, MI. This company employs a staff of approximately 19 and has extensive experience with state and city electrical contracting work. Stahlin Non-Metallic Enclosures: Two brothers opened the company in the early 1940's under the name Stahlin Brothers Fibre Works in Belding, Michigan. In the late 1950's they pioneered the world's first non-metallic electric enclosure molded from Fiber Glass Reinforced Polyester (FRP). Stahlin quickly became a leader in the non-metallic enclosure industry and today continues to manufacture electrical enclosures in the same location. Stahlin offers the largest available selection of fiberglass non-metallic enclosures for reliably protecting electrical connections, instrumentation and sensitive control systems in a variety of applications.

The Lighting Project: The Basics With the overall project in the very capable hands of Fleis and Vanderbrink engineering firm, and the electrical installation overseen by the experience team at Airport Lighting, the next challenge was selecting the proper electrical enclosures to protect the electrical connections and wiring used to achieve the desired lighting results. It was necessary that enclosures be large enough to house the controls upon which the lighting system functioned. We also required enclosure manufacturer that could offer the capabilities to effectively produce a customized enclosure to meet our individualized performance needs. On top of all of this, we needed an enclosure that would, over the long-term, protect the enclosed system from corrosion and environmental forces that might otherwise damage and jeopardize our investment.

Comparing Metal Enclosures to Composite Enclosures: Composite Won the Contract Due to the large size requirements (48"x36"x16") of the enclosure, we knew that a steel enclosure would be very heavy to handle during installation and would cost more than our budget would allow. Fortunately, the engineers on the project knew that composite fiberglass materials might offer us a significant advantage over metallic alternatives. Specifically: composites have improved flexural strength because they can withstand an impact without permanent deformation or denting. Composite fiberglass also offers an effective continuous service temperature ranges from -73 degrees F to +250 degrees F, meaning that enclosures molded from this material will withstand even the most difficult operating environments. Plus, fiberglass composite materials can be superior to metallics --- even stainless steel in specific environments --- for the purpose of beating the high cost of damage from corrosion. Lastly, the weight of fiberglass would be less than metal, make the overall installation easier and less costly. Consequently, we made a decision to go with non-metallic enclosures for the job. As luck would have it, Stahlin Non- Metallic Enclosures is located in Belding, Michigan!

Getting the Custom Enclosure Built: Knowledge Is Key At this point in the project, Fleis and Vanderbrink was able to contribute through its knowledge of enclosures manufactured by Stahlin and also of Stahlin's ModRight™ Program --- an in-house service that offers the capability of producing a unique custom design through a hand lay-up process. Stahlin offers years of experience building large custom enclosures and, as a result, they understood immediately what we required. Fleis and Vanderbrink provided the necessary specs to Stahlin's engineering team, enabling Stahlin to quickly expedite the customized order and deliver it to the City of Belding well within the required turnaround time. Plus, for this special project, Stahlin was able to produce the enclosures in a green color so they would blend in their new environment.

The Result: Michigan Firms Prove Themselves To Be Very Capable Partners There are many contracting and manufacturing firms that will solicit/bid on state and city projects. They are not necessarily all local. Therefore, we were pleased when local companies won the bids for this project. All of three of these Michigan's firms proved that going local doesn't mean we were getting firms with less experience or higher cost. They all proved that going local is a great way to help the State of Michigan stay competitive and offer its citizens a great and viable place to live. Now, due to the help of these local firms, our city now has a safer more attractive community for our constituents to enjoy.

Fleis and Vanderbrink: Grand Rapids Office 2960 Lucerne Drive SE Grand Rapids, MI 49546 P: (616) 977-1000 F: (616) 977-1005. Web:

J R Howell Airport Lighting, Llc.6320 N State Rd.Luther, MI 49656 (517) 230-3558

Stahlin Non-Metallic Enclosures:

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