The first is its sheer enormity. Stretching 500 feet long by more than 300 feet wide, entering the building is akin to walking into a great cathedral — an almost humbling experience.
The second is surprising, as it seems to contradict what your sense of hearing tells you. Despite the overwhelming sound of metal dropping and the electric hiss of welding machines, noise that requires all but the visiting media to wear earplugs, the building is mostly empty.
In its first hours of operation Tuesday, about 40 welders stood in clumps along a trailer-construction bay stretching 500-feet long. The other bays (denoted by the thick steel columns that support the massive roof) sit empty.
Mostly empty, that is. A red full-size pick-up truck sits at the end of a bay where a robotic line will soon be used, churning out five trailers a day. Sitting on the smooth concrete floor of the enormous building, the truck seems more like a toy than a workhorse.
Nearby is a small trailer, two doors open. Marvin Whitt, plant manager of the new facility, explained that it is not a temporary office, but temporary restrooms. The heat was turned on last week, he said. Running water, however, they still lack.
Whitt said the process to fully equip the factory would go quickly. Eighty percent of the plant’s machinery should be in by the end of this month, with a line of robotics due in June.
“Come back in February,” he told this reporter just two hours into the first workday. “If you [come back] once a month, you’d be shocked.”
For the rest of this story, please see this week's edition of The Cadiz Record.