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Big industry in a small town

Becky Bosshart
Appeal Staff Writer
BRAD HORN/Nevada Appeal Construction workers build the Builders Choice building in Silver Springs on Wednesday.
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SILVER SPRINGS – Thirty miles east of the Carson City limits, a red-tinted steel structure is rising from the desert floor. The Builders Choice Inc. manufacturing facility is one of the tallest structures in this rural community, and when it’s enclosed it’ll be the largest building.

After about three days, workers erected eight sections of steel trusses, which span 200 feet over the 100,000-square-foot concrete pad. The plant also has an additional 46,000 square feet for its large automated saws. That’s a lot of industry for little Silver Springs.

“The first truss should roll off the assembly line by the end of July,” says Don Ogden, manager of Nevada Builders Choice, which owns 29 acres in Silver Springs.

Starting with 25 people the first day, Builders Choice will make trusses for the residential construction industry, a booming market in the area. Trusses made in Silver Springs will be shipped from Utah to Northern California. Ogden said, in the space of a few years, the plant will grow to 200 employees working five production lines in a couple of shifts.

Those new jobs in the area pay an average of $15 an hour, said regional economic expert Larie Trippet, with the Northern Nevada Development Authority. Builders Choice is expected to have a regional economic impact of $5.4 million in its first year of operation, according to the state economic development office.

Steel Specialist Scott Garrison, with general contractor Miles Brothers Construction, has been driving between his home in Dayton to the work site since December, but they’ve been working on the project for two years. He casually walked beside the steel skeleton, pointing out the purloins (smaller sections of steel that are used to attach the rigid frames together). The pieces are assembled on the ground and then raised by the cranes.

The two cranes at the site each lift a 20,000-pound section of steel and then connect the two together in the air.

Working one of the controls is Chuck Neller, of Sparks. A crane operator for 27 years, Neller said this is a pretty easy job with the help of a good signal man on the ground. If the pieces are laid out correctly it will come together right.

Tightening the bolts is John Sherwin, of Silver Springs. He’s been on the job since Monday. He had worked at Naval Air Station Fallon before losing his job when the military switched contractors. He’s lived in Silver Springs for 20 years and likes it because of the one blinking light in town (the intersection of 95A and Highway 50 East).

Sherwin, 49, said he gets a fair wage working at this site and doesn’t have to drive 150 miles to work. As excited as he is to work on the largest building in Silver Springs, he isn’t excited about what that means.

“I hate to see our little neighborhood grow,” he says. He talks about the proposed roadway between the city and the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center in Storey County, off Interstate 80. A few miles of it has been paved near the interstate, but it’s still a few years from Silver Springs.

“I think this place is going to get really big, like this is going to be the center of the world.”

An aspect of that is true, otherwise Builders Choice wouldn’t have selected Silver Springs for its $7 million facility.

“You have 95A there,” says Garrison. “You’re 20 minutes from I-80, which is important if you’re shipping south to Vegas.”

Ogden says he doesn’t think the company could’ve built as large of a complex for $7 million any where else in Nevada, or invested another $1 million into new equipment.

“We were able not to spend a fortune on land and put our investment in the actual manufacturing facility,” he says. ” We were able to prioritize.”

• Contact reporter Becky Bosshart at bbosshart@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1212.

Builders Choice

• The truss maker’s 29-acre site on Lake Street in Silver Springs includes a 146,000-square-foot manufacturing building, a 6,800-square-foot office and truck maintenance building.

• The family-owned company was started by Phillip Overholtzer about 15 years ago. He was a Modesto home builder who had a difficult time finding trusses for his developments. He opened his own manufacturing facility outside Modesto, which is run by his children. The Nevada facility will be run by his son-in-law, Don Ogden.

• The Silver Springs operation will be twice the size of the company’s 20-acre plant in Hughson, Calif. That plant employs 187 workers and processes more than 2 million board feet of lumber monthly.

Total cost: $8 million, includes equipment

Amount of steel used: About 700 tons

Concrete: 6,000 yards

To be completed: August

– Source: Miles Brothers and Builders Choice