Quality concrete pouring out of Collins Colony

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

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Brothers Mark and George Wipf were two of several men working Tuesday at Collins Precast, a manufacturing plant 12 miles north of Manchester on the Collins Hutterite Colony. The crew was pouring cement into forms to create precast cement walls for their latest customer, the builder of a dairy farm near Howard.


The outside walls of the new event and wellness center in De Smet, which weigh an average of 24,000 pounds each, were also manufactured at Collins Precast and delivered to the building site.


“The event center in De Smet is unique. We’ve never done a round building like that before,” Mark said, adding that walls can be shaped to meet the customer’s needs.


The Jans Corporation of Sioux Falls is the contractor for the event center.  Project manager Jamie Halverson said he is impressed with the quality of work and speed shown by Collins Precast.


“Collins Precast is some of the best we have seen,” he said. “The walls line up exceptionally well. We are really pleased.”


Hutterite colonies were once known as agricultural producers. But in recent years, many have diversified, moving into manufacturing and construction industries.


Collins Colony was organized a few years ago as a daughter colony of the Spink Colony near Frankfort. With a population of 86, the colony resembles a small town with commercial buildings, apartment buildings, houses, a school, a cement plant and Collins Precast.


The plant is only one of several industries that help support the colony. Other members work as farmers, mechanics and blacksmiths, but on days concrete is poured, many of them lend a hand in the plant until that phase of the job is complete.  According to the brothers, fall is the busiest time of year because everyone is scrambling to get things done before winter.


The experienced and efficient crew made Tuesday’s job look simple to an untrained observer. But there are several precise steps in the process. Layers of mesh make the walls stronger, and insulation makes them more energy efficient. Reinforcements are placed in the corners. Once the concrete is poured, it is smoothed several times throughout the day.


“It takes about 16 hours for the forms to set up,” George said.


Precast walls have gained popularity in recent years and are used for many kinds of commercial buildings and homes.


Walls go four feet into the ground and are welded onto a foundation.  These buildings have proven to stand up under severe weather events, “On the East Coast, there are buildings made with precast walls that were still standing after a hurricane destroyed other buildings,” George said.


Donna Palmlund

Staff Writer

The De Smet News

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