When metal supplier A.J. Forsyth first reached out to Steelhead Warehouse Solutions in August 2019, the discussion focused on the racking limitations of its Gloucester warehouse.

The facility had been effectively outfitted with “homemade” racking to store heavy steel sheets and long, lanky steel bar products called “extrusions.” In one corner of the warehouse, overstock had simply been stacked; accessing items that weren’t pick-facing would require major, forklift-assisted reorganization. Suffice it to say, the warehouse was overdue for a better layout, improved selectivity and engineered racking.

Shortly after the initial conversations, Steelhead was made aware that rather than renewing the lease of the Gloucester warehouse, A.J. Forsyth had purchased a new warehouse in Cloverdale. Due to the lease drawing to a close, the client’s timeline was now a matter of urgency and with the broadening scope of the project, Steelhead found itself in competition for the job.



Prior to assembling a proposal, Steelhead visited the new space and made key observations. While measuring the facility, owner Kevin Van Neck discovered the site drawing was missing information consequential to a prospective layout. He also learned while communicating with the client, that they had a vision for the space that would have been constrained by the position of a row of warehouse columns.

“Depending on where the columns are located, you can lose up to twenty per cent of your storage space,” Van Neck explained. “We recommended a design change that would instead bury the columns within the racking system to recapture that square footage.”

With this in mind, Steelhead submitted a well-informed design and ultimately won the job.

The final installation equipped the 35,000-sq. ft. warehouse with a 22-foot-high system comprised of more than 100 trays for the extrusions and 400-plus overstock locations for the heavy steel sheets, created by structural cantilever featuring 5-foot arms.

“It’s challenging to create any type of density for the extrusions because these items are awkward to transport,” said Van Neck.

In order to manufacture that density, the system was designed with very narrow aisles. The extrusions are still picked by a forklift and the installation of slotted guide rails, rather than traditional, assure no aisle space was unnecessarily wasted.



In addition to smart design, Steelhead was competitive thanks to its ability to quickly file a purchase order with Cogan, a trusted supplier who worked to expedite the project.

The typical material lead time on such a job is four-to-six months; Steelhead quoted in August and installation began in fall. Three truckloads were shipped from eastern Canada with Cogan strategically loading the first truck with starter equipment in order to begin the installation as early as possible.

Originally (and ideally), the installation was to occur in an empty warehouse. In reality, unforeseen obstacles relating to the concrete slab and a brief, uncontrolled shipping delay compounded an already short timeline. With the client’s warehouse lease set to expire, inventory from Gloucester was now being repositioned to Cloverdale while new deliveries were arriving, which meant our team of installers needed to coordinate work around shifting product.

Incredibly, this was nothing short of the challenge that the facility’s concrete slab presented. Though the warehouse was brand new, it was purpose built for cold storage, not for heavy weighted inventory sitting atop custom spec’d structural cantilever. While securing the system to the slab, we were constantly challenged by the depth at which the rebar was positioned. As such, the installation of the anchors caused some degree of frustration. A few grey hairs and many drill bits later, our skilled installers were able to secure the system to the slab.

Like any type of renovation project, unexpected issues are guaranteed and rack installations are no different. When Steelhead commits to a job, we manage every step of the project, from top to bottom, start to finish. On this job, owner Greg Hubbert was on-site, actively managing the installation so that decisions could be made in real-time for the quickest possible resolution.

Steelhead is pleased to conclude that the A.J. Forsyth project wrapped in early 2020 with a happy customer, on time and on budget.