Manufacturer Turns to HVAC Engineer for Owner’s Representative Services

Pearson’s role streamlines the development process


 “Without Pearson, we couldn’t have made the timeline.”
-Plastic Ingenuity Facilities Consultant Mark Olafsson


Plastic Ingenuity (PI), one of the largest custom thermoformers in North America, wanted to open a plant in the western United States. The firm’s challenges ranged from site selection to developing Requests for Proposals and managing the construction process.

PI, founded in 1972, turned to Pearson Engineering, Madison, Wisconsin, for help. Pearson’s Jason Beren, PE, LEED AP, senior project engineer, became the HVAC owner’s representative. That relationship continued from site selection through the opening of the 115,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Tooele, Utah, in 2021. The plant produces consumer goods, healthcare, and food-grade plastic packaging.

PI has worked with Pearson Engineering since the 1990s. “Pearson provides excellent solutions to our problems,” says PI Facilities Consultant Mark Olafsson. “They understand our process and are a great partner for us.”

Adds PI Facilities Manager Troy Stoenner, “Our long-term relationship with Pearson made this firm an easy choice to assist us.”

When Pearson learned PI was looking at a potential site in Utah, Beren fast-tracked getting an engineering license by endorsement in that state.

As an owner’s representative, Beren’s background proved beneficial. Before joining Pearson Engineering, he spent 18 years as a design/build contractor. With that experience, he could review potential contractors and recommend firms to consider. He prepared proposal requests for the HVAC and process piping systems.

As part of his role, Beren also:

  • Collaborated with the owner to develop HVAC project requirements
  • Recommended major equipment to purchase (chillers and cooling tower)
  • Developed a Request for Proposals for local design/build mechanical contractors
  • Reviewed contractor pricing
  • Efficiently communicated with contractors throughout the process

Site Simulations Analyze Energy Costs

As part of PI’s site selection team, Pearson provided input on how the different locations would impact energy costs and equipment selections.

Pearson developed energy simulations for three potential sites in Utah, Idaho and Arizona. The firm evaluated the energy use of water-cooled vs. air-cooled systems. The analysis also reviewed each site’s temperature, altitude and increased energy costs compared to one of the company’s sites in Wisconsin.

Water availability played a crucial role in selecting the location. The Utah site came out on top, and an existing building in Tooele was available for purchase.

“We have customers in the Northwest, and the Utah plant will allow us to meet our strategic needs in this region,” says Olafsson.

Understanding Facility Operations

Before the project began, Olafsson worked with Pearson to optimize the owner’s other facilities. With this knowledge, Beren was the logical choice to serve as the HVAC owner’s representative for the Utah project.

Pearson used that expertise to help develop the owner’s HVAC project requirements and get referrals for mechanical companies that would be a good fit for the project’s technical requirements. Before the contractors received the owner’s design for bidding purposes, Stoenner, Olafsson and Beren interviewed them.

“Jason went through the contractors’ proposals and made sure we were getting everything we wanted,” he adds. “There weren’t any red flags. Both contractors who submitted proposals were capable.”

Pearson Serves as Part of the Team

Pearson also assisted the owner with the heavy equipment selection during the design process. With the current market conditions, delivery could take up to nine months. All of the equipment arrived on time except for some pumps. Pearson modified designs so temporary pumps could be used until the permanent pumps arrived.

PI purchased an existing building that would be transformed into a manufacturing plant for its products. Pearson used Google Earth to identify HVAC equipment on the building that could be removed. It also was determined that some of the existing fans could be relocated to PI’s manufacturing area.

Beren also visited the site before manufacturing began. He evaluated the existing HVAC and current controls to see what could be used for PI’s manufacturing needs.

As the HVAC owner’s representative, Beren worked with the mechanical contractor and their local Utah engineering firm to answer questions. “Jason was always available,” says Stoenner. “I sent him questions weekly.”

Stoenner also appreciates Beren’s “boots on the ground” approach and excellent communication with contractors. For example, a sheet metal foreman called Beren directly and told him the ductwork wouldn’t work with the existing system. The foreman shared recommendations for changes. Beren quickly reviewed and approved the proposed modifications. The problem was solved.

Pearson’s Efforts Save Time and Money

Olafsson notes that PI’s internal time frame for opening the Utah plant was very aggressive. “Without Pearson, we couldn’t have made the timeline,” he says. “It was important that Jason got his Utah engineering license so he could assist us.”

PI purchased the Utah building in March 2021, took occupancy in June, and started manufacturing high-volume custom food and beverage thermoformed packaging in December 2021.

Stoenner says Plastic Ingenuity and Pearson Engineering have an excellent partnership. “We can trust them. They know what we’re looking for, whether it’s a new facility or we’re expanding existing space.”

He adds, “I recommend working with Pearson based on their experience and how they’ve handled our projects in the past. Word of mouth is huge in our industry. When you get a good contractor or consultant, you stick with them.”

“Pearson will provide excellent solutions to whatever problems you have.
They’re easy to work with.”

- Plastic Ingenuity Facilities Consultant Mark Olafsson