Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport, the nation’s first new international airport built since 9/11, opened on schedule with its first flight departing on May 23, 2010. The project, which broke ground in 2007 after a 10-year planning and feasibility stage, serves Panama City and the surrounding Florida Gulf Coast area, replacing the small, aged and technologically obsolete Panama City-Bay County International Airport. The new 125,000-square-foot terminal features seven gates and is expected to serve more than 500,000 passengers annually.
After a lengthy and arduous bidding process, general contractor, Walbridge Construction, awarded Pro-Floors Plus, Lynn Haven, Fla., the contract to install the terminal’s 60,000 square feet of tile. Pro-Floors Plus was chosen after best demonstrating the ability to handle such a large, high-profile project. Ron Perkins, president, Pro-Floors Plus, reviewed the specifications for the installation and was immediately concerned because the specs allowed for use of any ANSI 118.4 mortar. Knowing that an international airport terminal would see many decades of heavy traffic – both on foot and from a variety of vehicles – Ron recognized that ANSI 118.4 alone represented a minimum standard, and that an upgrade to a premium installation system protected by a solid warranty would be necessary to ensure the long-term success of the job. Ron also realized a possible challenge securing approval for such an upgrade from the general contractor, architect and owner, given the cost-sensitive nature of the project in the midst of an economic downturn.
Dal-Tile was supplying 60,000 square feet of 16-inch by 16-inch by 5/8-inch Wausau terrazzo tile installed on and above grade in the terminal; 10,000 square feet of modern dimensions glazed-ceramic wall tile; and decorative glass tile for the terminal’s entry columns. Ron consulted with his Dal-Tile representative to determine the best course of action and a recommendation for a high-performance mortar system that would yield far superior results with minimal cost increases. Dal-Tile suggested Custom® Building Products, and put Ron in touch with Custom’s Chip O’Rear, architectural consultant, and Vann Clayton, regional technical sales representative. O’Rear and Clayton consulted with Pro-Floors Plus, visiting the site and reviewing plans to assess the needs and make the most effective recommendations.
After careful review, they recommended the following system:
“We hadn’t really worked with Custom’s architectural staff before this job. We were impressed with the knowledge and level of technical support and consultation they brought to the table,” said Ron. “Chip and Vann introduced us to new products that turned out to be an ideal fit for our needs on this project and created a system that is protected with a full lifetime warranty. The warranty was key for us to ensure the life of the installation and to justify the increased cost. It was a smart economic move that made sense to the owner and general contractor, too.”
The Custom team remained involved throughout the installation process, providing on-site consultation and jobsite inspections. “The early planning on this job helped us maintain a very aggressive schedule,” said Ron. “Our team, led by project manager, Kevin Perkins, and field superintendent, Doug Davis, was able to manage an extremely smooth installation project, remain on schedule and ultimately make a major contribution to the airport’s on-time grand opening.”
The Pro-Floors Plus team appreciated the working characteristics and performance of the entire system. “We loved Custom’s mortars, especially MegaFlex. It’s definitely superior and was great to work with. We’ll be using this on many more jobs in the future,” said Kevin.
“Prism Grout is the best grout out there, with unbelievable workability and really easy cleanup. The color consistency was spot on – everything about it is really good,” said Davis.
The biggest challenges on the project involved the logistics of working around other trades due to the compressed timeline. “Installing in various areas and getting it all to connect took some work. However, because so much was planned in advance and Custom was so helpful with technical experience, it really helped us avoid unexpected problems and really made the job go smoothly,” said Ron.
“We’re proud of the partnership we created with Dal-Tile and Custom Building Products on this ‘showcase’ project,” Ron continued. “This airport is personal for us – we’re local and we want to walk in there in 50 years and have it look like it does today. Thanks to the quality of the tiles, the installation system and the workmanship, we know it will.”
Panama City, FLYear Completed:
JRA Architects, Panama City, FLContractor:
Walbridge Construction, Detroit, MITile Contractor:
Pro-Floors Plus, Lynn Haven, FLCBP Architectural Consultant:
Chip O’Rear CSI, CCPR, CTC, LEED APCBP Regional Technical Representative: