Teardrop Trail Log: Monday, June 12, 2017
We awoke the next morning to a quiet house. Being an early riser, Bob was long gone, and Danna had been up for a while. I’ve never been an early riser, a topic that Bob and I revisit every trip with his good natured teasing about “burning daylight.” On the other hand, I worked broadcast TV as a young man and my day didn’t even start until early afternoon. It’s been a topic of conversation ever since.
Bob had promised a tour of his new building and I didn’t want to waste any more time. In the forty-plus years since we started the electronic surplus business together, he’s been through countless locations as the business expanded. I can’t remember them all, but there have been at least eight. He has been in his current location, an old millwork factory, for about 13 years. It was amazing given it’s size — about 225,000 square feet. A four-story brick-veneer building that occupies about a half of a city block and dates from the early part of the 20th century. Omaha is gentrifying though, and developers are eager to convert the old structure into condos. How times have changed.
When we arrived in Omaha the day before, Bob told us about his new building in Fort Calhoun. Most recently a warehouse facility, it has about the same square footage, but is all on one level with 37-foot ceilings. The entire building has rows of racks, meaning that it can efficiently store far more than the Ashton building. On top of that it was constructed in four segments beginning in the 1990’s, so the construction, roof, and fire suppression systems are all modern. A very big deal for the fortunate new building owner. I couldn’t wait to see it.
Bob was back at the house by the time we finished breakfast and we headed out. With the new building only about 2 miles from his house, we were there in no time. The sheer size of the building was breathtaking. It has a plain brown exterior with the exception of a monumental red sculpture, and the side opposite the street sports 13 loading docks. That was an obvious improvement over Ashton with it’s two or three.
As we went inside, I tried to glimpse the opposite wall. This should be possible since the racking is aligned in long rows away from the loading docks. I could just make it out. Was that the curvature of the earth getting in the way or just my aging eyesight?
They were just starting to move inventory from the Ashton building — a process that would continue for several months — so the new building was mostly empty. As we walked around I was impressed with it’s modern appearance. It’s always fun to look around Surplus Sales and it was still fun — even with just a little of the massive inventory moved in.
Bob saved the best for last. He bought a new forklift that was better suited to the vast distances and tall racking. Made by a German company, Jungheinrich, it is the Mercedes Benz of the forklift world. He invited me to try it out.
Wow. Fast. Quiet. Awesome. I drove it around for quite a while. Maybe he was trying to entice me back to the business?