Searching for the ideal industrial building for your business goes beyond finding something that is the ideal size and budget. There are a number of features to consider in your search for industrial space for lease to ensure your term in the building is a comfortable one. Below are important criteria to keep and mind and consider in your search for industrial property, none of these are in any particular order.
1) Clear Height - Having a space that is an adequate size in footprint is useless if it doesn’t have an adequate clear height to rack your inventory high enough that you won’t run out of space. Generally speaking, if you’re a warehouse and distribution tenant, having more height allows you to rack higher and save on the number of square feet you occupy. Higher clear height often creates an opportunity to use your space more efficiently by racking up rather than expanding outward.
2) Power Supply - If you manufacture or use a lot of computers and equipment to run your operation you will want to ensure the space you are planning to lease has an adequate power supply. If your business has a requirement for 3 phase power you will want to make sure the unit is equipped with it.
3) Loading Docks - Another popular feature among warehouse and distribution tenant’s is loading docks. Loading docks are truck trailer height and allow for easy movement of inventory on and off of trucks. Unfortunately not all industrial buildings in Niagara have loading docks, in fact we likely have a shortage in comparison to other areas of the province and country. It can take a bit longer to source a building with loading docks, especially if you’re looking for something under 10,000 sq. ft. in St. Catharines or the Niagara Region. If you’re looking to relocate soon and loading docks are a priority, you may want to start your search earlier just in case.
4) Grade Level Doors - Unlike loading docks, grade level doors open at ground level, not truck trailer level. These doors are more common than loading docks and most industrial buildings have them. These doors are used by most industrial businesses however shipping and receiving inventory through them isn’t nearly as easy as using a loading dock. It’s important to make note of the sizes of grade level doors if you have larger items coming and going.
5) Location - Most industrial operations ship and receive goods by transport trucks so a location with close proximity to the highway is usually preferred. Ensuring the location is easy to get to for trucks is important. If you have a lot of employees you may want to locate somewhere with access to public transit. Some operations may prefer to have a rail spur or access to a waterway for shipping. Some industrial businesses are noisy or produce a strong odour which would be a good reason to locate somewhere a little isolated away from housing and other businesses. These are items to consider based on the demands of your business and a good industrial agent can help you find what’s best.
6) Truck Access - Further to the point above you need to ensure the property itself can allow for the proper flow of trucks to ensure shipments and deliveries come and go as you expect them to. There are some poorly designed properties that make it very difficult for trucks to come and go as they should and those properties should be avoided.
7) Type of Heating - The two most common forms of heating in industrial buildings is either forced air gas or radiant tube. Usually it’s a matter of preference but there are some businesses that can’t work with one or the other for various reasons. In terms of efficiency, in a warehouse setting many operations tend to have a preference for radiant heat as it heats the surfaces and not the air, that way when someone opens a grade level door you don’t lose all your heat.
8) Parking - If you have a lot of employees and a good portion of them own vehicles, you need to ensure the building you have selected has enough parking capacity, otherwise you can run into an issue.
9) Office Space - Most industrial businesses have some requirement for office but not all. For those that do, the space space is rarely more than 10-20% of the total size of the unit. You won’t find exactly what you’re looking for so it’s best to keep the big picture in mind and ensure the industrial/warehouse portion of the space meets your needs more than the office. The office is an after thought that can be modified if necessary.
10) Column Spacing - Depending on your equipment, the flow of your manufacturing, the type of racking you have etc., you may need to keep the distance between columns in mind. For example, if you need to fit a 25 foot machine in between columns that are only 20 feet apart, you have a problem. It’s important to share minimum column spacing requirements with you Realtor to keep note of in the hunt for space.
11) Plumbing and Drainage - Aside from needing a washroom and a kitchen, some industrial operations require additional plumbing and drains throughout their unit. Make sure the buildings you have focused on can have plumbing and drains where needed for your business to function as it should.
12) Work with a Commercial Real Estate Agent - I’ve complained about this in other blogs and I can’t state it enough, now is not the time to hire the agent that sold your house. If you expect knowledge and competence when making a major commitment to a long term lease, you want to ensure your requirements are fulfilled and you want your interests protected. The best way to do this is to hire a commercial real estate agent who has the knowledge, skills, and experience in industrial real estate leasing to help you pull that off. Using an agent that sells houses and doesn’t possess those qualities can create a lot of headaches and unwanted problems during the process and well after the move.
If you want to know more about finding the ideal industrial building please don’t hesitate to reach out and ask questions.