Mike M. doesn’t have to go far to get a delicious cup of Hawaiian dark roast in the morning. Just a few steps from his front door is the site of his own coffee production company, Pua’a Lani (Hog Heaven), which was created using a SteelMaster metal shipping container cover and two salvaged shipping containers.
Mike, who moved from California to Hawaii, purchased his new property from a couple who had already started the process. They originally planted about 600 coffee plants on the premises, and now Mike has big plans to expand it.
Before he could make plans to do that, he had to take care of a little problem on the property—wild pigs! He says a farmer left without notice, a gate was left open and the pigs took over. After rounding up the pigs, he ran them back to the other side and now that’s where they reside, in hog heaven (Pua’a Lani) until Mike decides to grow more crops there.
“This place is hog heaven in more than one way,” says Mike.
The plants on the property can produce thousands of pounds of coffee, and Mike needed to make sure he had adequate space to handle production demands. The previous owners of the crops were operating out of a 200 square foot green house, which wasn’t nearly enough for that kind of volume.
Initially, Mike purchased an S-Model 40 x 40 Quonset HutTM that he planned to use as a storage facility and a processing area for the coffee. When Sales Manager Scott Buckman introduced him to one of SteelMaster’s most innovative creations, the metal shipping container cover, Mike decided that was the better option for his needs.
“When I first got into this, I was talking to Scott and he said ‘You can do it yourself,’ and I’m thinking I’m going to need help,” says Mike.
He says putting up the arches was the easiest part of the process, but it was harder getting over the anxiety of even attempting the project at all. He says at first it didn’t seem like something he would be able to do, but once he put up the first arch, he discovered the process was certainly a task he could handle.
[x_blockquote cite=”Mike” type=”left”]”It really is do-it-yourself. It can be done.”[/x_blockquote]
Before he even started the process, Mike says he received valuable guidance from a good friend who lives in the area, Tom D. He says Tom was one of the reasons why he felt like he could do this. He says if it were not for Tom, his arches would still be sitting on the pallets.
“I thought about it for a while and decided that we could,” says Mike.
He dug 11 posts 1.5ft in diameter across and 4ft deep into the ground. He then filled each one with concrete to hold them in place. After that, he placed the containers 50 feet apart and spanned them with the metal container cover.
He put three more piers down the center of the structure and added a second floor between the two containers and started building from there. The top area of the building will be used to roast and bag the coffee.
After the arches were up, he started working on the endwalls. He placed a 10ft x 50 ft greenhouse on one side of the building. He built the top half of the rear endwall under the arches, and then started to build the greenhouse underneath.
Now that the building is near completion, Mike is working on adding a few finishing touches to the front endwall and adding doors. He says that overall, the process proved to be one he could do with just a little help along the way.
“The construction of the roof itself went pretty well,” says Mike.
He also discovered the benefits of building with a metal shipping container cover rather than a traditional style building. Not only are they simple to construct, there’s built in site storage, which is especially useful in an area that gets about 150 inches of rain a year.
“It’s a huge advantage to doing this even over the conventional steel building because you start off with the two containers. I had 300 square feet of dry secure storage for all the materials and the roof itself,” says Mike.
Also, by choosing to build with a metal shipping container cover, he can now pour concrete to create a nice driveway for the business and he also wants to add more rooms with all of the money he saved by doing the project himself.
Although, Mike has done do-it-yourself projects in the past, this was the first time he has tackled a project of this size. In addition to the ease of construction and the storage benefits of this kind of structure, Mike says he discovered yet another benefit.
“Doing it this way, just with a friend, and a little bit at a time, allows the low-cost, instant change orders. You don’t have to go through an approval process or get quotes from your contractor, all those sorts of things that would delay my project,” says Mike.
Right now the only thing slowing down the process is his friend’s schedule and the weather.
He says the two of them work 10-12 hours a day when they find the time to work on the building.
He hopes to have the majority of the building completed by the summer.
Until then, he continues to use his current crop as parchment.
In just a few months, he’ll be in full swing, producing fresh, Hawaiian coffee for the world to enjoy.