Ground Effects – New business and a constant temperature drive Ford supplier down under

Tier 1 supplier accelerates growth underground in SubTropolis
New business and a constant temperature drive Ford supplier down under 

Not too wet, not too cold and definitely not too hot! Those are the conditions Ground Effects needs to spray the perfect bed liner on Ford-150 trucks. So when the Canadian-based Tier 1 supplier contracted with Ford to apply the liners on new F-150s manufactured at the Kansas City Assembly Plant in Claycomo, Mo., the perfect environment was at the top of the list.

The solution? SubTropolis, the world’s largest underground business complex. Located just minutes from the Ford plant, Mother Nature gave SubTropolis a constant ambient temperature and low humidity. These conditions eliminate the need for heating and cooling, and ensure Ground Effects always has the ideal setting for spraying on liner material.

“What our operation doesn’t like is water,” Ground Effects President James Scott said. “Our liner material can’t be sprayed on anything that is wet. We’ve got the parking lot above ground and one underground. As the vehicles are dropped off, we take them into SubTropolis to dry while we’re prepping the vehicles that are already in our facility.” 

OVERVIEW

In order to be near the Ford Kansas City assembly plant, Ground Effects Ltd. added operations at Hunt Midwest SubTropolis in 2011. Easy expansion, cost-effective operations, and a naturally climate-controlled environment are a few of the reasons why Ground Effects representatives call SubTropolis the perfect location for automotive customization.

BACKGROUND

Headquartered in Windsor, Ontario, Ground Effects originally operated as a multi-faceted supplier of quality interior and exterior accessory components for the automotive industry. Founded in 1986, the company is now an authorized mass vehicle customization supplier for Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler. The company applies spray-on bed liners for Ford F-150 trucks and will also perform customization work on the new Ford Transit at its Kansas City-based location in SubTropolis.

CHALLENGE

When Ground Effects looked to expand into the Kansas City market, the company sought a cost-effective location that would provide the ideal temperature and environment for its liner material, which cannot be applied to any surface that is wet. Additionally, Ground Effects required a location that had the contiguous space for an underground staging lot where vehicles would remain dry and not be subjected to extreme temperature fluctuations, as well as a larger lot nearby to store vehicles before and after customization. And with the business growing rapidly, Ground Effects needed the ability to expand cost-effectively without interrupting business operations.

SOLUTION

Ground Effects found what it was looking for at Hunt Midwest SubTropolis, the world’s largest underground business complex. The supplier operates its spray-on bed liner and customization facility in the underground. Originally leasing 36,000 square feet, Ground Effects quickly expanded during its first year in SubTropolis, and now leases 55,000 square feet. In addition, Ground Effects leases a 97,000 square foot underground staging area in SubTropolis and a 136,000 square foot lot on the surface. As the vehicles are dropped off by the manufacturer, Ground Effects technicians take them into SubTropolis to dry while vehicles already in the facility are being prepped.

Ford operates its North American Vehicle Logistics Outbound Shipping (NAVLOS) facility in Automotive Alley’s adjacent space above ground in the Hunt Midwest Business Center. The area provides a truck-friendly infrastructure located just east of I-435 at MO-210 in Kansas City and is minutes from the Norfolk Southern Intermodal facility.

“This is the perfect location for us – climate controlled and very cost-effective,” said Jim Scott, president at Ground Effects Ltd. “Our employees really enjoy the environment.”

KEY BENEFITS

The humidity in SubTropolis is low and the ambient temperature in the underground stays between 65 and 70 degrees regardless of outside temperatures so Ground Effects always has a perfect environment for spraying on liner material. The constant temperature also eliminates the need to heat or cool the facility – saving up to 70 percent in total energy costs and providing a comfortable environment that yields higher worker productivity. Lease rates are 30-50 percent less than comparable above-ground facilities and SubTropolis’ convenient location is just minutes from both the Ford and GM assembly plants, reducing transit costs. And with more nearly 6 million square feet of leasable space and room to add 8 million more, Hunt Midwest’s on-site design/build team makes it possible for Ground Effects to affordably expand in weeks, rather than months.

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