This is one of a series of articles on the 10 year anniversary of the Cargill fire, which happened on Easter Sunday, 2008.
The only part of the Cargill facility left standing after a fire on Easter day 2008 sat vacant for more than five years.
Although the Petit Jean Regional Foundation was given rights to the building by Cargill in 2011, finding a tenant proved difficult because of the size of the facility.
In July of 2013, with Arkansas Economic Development Commission, Western Arkansas Planning and Development District as well as local industrial development organization representatives on hand for a ribbon cutting, Calvin Bennett Construction took over the facility.
Bennett moved his company from Magazine because he had outgrown his facility there, but in 2013 he wondered if the former freezer simply wasn’t too big.
It hasn’t been. Last week there were 1,700 doors and their hardware ready for shipment.
In 2013 Bennett’s company was welding hollow metal frames and assembling doors and hardware but that isn’t as much the case now.
“Now we’re just doing pre-installation of door hardware, which benefits the consumer, one by not having to have the material on site until needed,” Bennett said. “It’s a huge asset to them.”
He uses a current job — the one for which the doors are stored in what is now a warehouse — in Reston, Va., a suburb of Washington, D.C. as an example.
“There’s nowhere on site to store material or put a container for stored material,” said Bennett. “We’ve done a lot of jobs like that.
“We did one on South Beach in Miami. The street was on both sides of the building. Every morning they would shut one side of the street on each side down. It was a logistical nightmare. We make it easy for them in hard situations is what we do.”
The facilities Bennett’s company caters to are often healthcare facilities including hospitals and nursing homes. In addition to the door installation, the company installs specialty items like handicap accessible hand rails. The company is also nationally certified in the installation of automatic or electrical operating doors.
Bennett’s work force has exceeded 30 through the years and they are often away from home. Besides the Virginia location, last week he had crews in Florence, Ala., and San Antonio, Texas.
Bennett’s always looking for help but when the force is smaller, if something happens requiring a change at one of the job-sites he can typically move people around. If not, he goes himself.
“The opportunities are endless,” Bennett said. “If we had enough help.”
He is currently looking at a job at Vanderbilt University in Nashville that includes a 306-foot tower.
Whether he lands the job or not, college campus work, where space is also typically at a premium, makes Bennett’s company attractive. The day the ribbon cutting was held at the facility — proclaimed Calvin Bennett Day in Booneville by Mayor Jerry Wilkins — the company was embarking on a job at Memphis University.
Hanging in Bennett’s office is a reminder of from where the building derived in a frame of 12 different photos taken the day of the fire.