In the last decade, there's been a new trend in prison management. What was once purely a government process, is slowly being turned over to the private sector. One main reason for this switch has been the efficiency with which many prison management companies can build new facilities.

Fortunately for Rotondo Weirich (RW) Enterprises Inc., a producer based in Lederach, Pa., prison management firms have found precast concrete to be one of their best tools. The producer has completed several successful projects for both Corrections Corporation of America and Flintco Inc., major companies in the private jail market, in the last 10 years.

Evidence of this effort occurred in November 2006. RW was awarded the precast modular cell package from contractor, Flintco for the Corrections Corporation of America's expansion project for the Northfork Correctional Facility in Sayre, Okla.

Establishing successful relationships at both the owner and general contractor level, as well as with personnel and subcontractors, is a key element to developing an efficient and quality production model. This is true for not only RW's operations, but for contractors who set the concrete, such as Flintco, as well.

The speed at which precast structures can be erected is important. And the ability to erect these structures with a minimal workforce is also a benefit. Kevin Moyes, division president for Flintco in Memphis, Tenn., stresses the importance of these advantages. “With the construction economy churning on all cylinders, the demand for this workforce is ever increasing.

“As a general contractor, we not only face these issues internally, but are challenged with the additional subcontractors that are required on any given project. One of the keys to success for a project is assembling and managing this team of subcontractors.”

Need for mobility

Prison locations are rarely close to each another or close to any plants. So RW has created a precast production model which is structured around mobility. The scheme creates an efficient and cost-effective production facility at a location either on or close to the project site. In the case of the Northfork Facility, RW's sights were set on the small town of Sayre.

The onsite production improves product delivery while creating an opportunity to strengthen the communication and interface with the owner, contractor, and other tradesmen throughout the course of the project. Conversely, managers must solve the unique challenges with each new project location. Availability of land, road access, and vendor and labor resources are a few of the typical challenges encountered with each new mobilization.

Before arriving in Sayre, RW's pre-construction team researched and created detailed mobilization plans to deal with site layout, road access, utilities, and most importantly, labor and subcontractor resources. Typically, an onsite casting operation requires one acre of well-drained stable land per every hundred cells included within the scope of the project.

Because land surrounding the existing Northfork facility was limited, RW worked with the Sayre officials to select a suitable parcel of land about three miles from the project site to set up its casting operations. Once this location was chosen, the project team focused on mobilizing equipment and personnel and teaming with national and local sub-contractors to complete the production “cast.” RW employs a core team of seasoned “road warriors” who form the foundation of its production and finishing crew. These employees have traveled to projects across the country, as well as points international, and continue to perfect the product delivery system.