What we've experienced over the past 24 months far exceeded most of our dreams. However, to truly understand, let's go back 6 years when I started with the company.
My Beginning - A Strip Mall
That's right, when I started with ToolBarn.com, we were leasing 2 bays in a strip mall. The Brick-n-Mortar had been running for a while already and had gone from needing 1 bay to having to add the second bay for the service center and a bit of extra warehouse space. My office was up a long, narrow staircase in some space shared with our accountant at the time. We also had a desk that was shared by a few people at different times of the day.
Building Upgrade #1 : Part of our own building
The first building upgrade wasn't long after I started. We moved about a mile down the road to an out-of-the-way location. We had a building with a 2 bay garage (large enough for a couple of UPS trucks) and 5 other dock locations. We were leasing out 4 of those and the warehouse space behind them to a trucking company. We also had a section of the building leased out to an electrical contractor for storage. My office at the time was large (I was using about 1/3 of it with our servers, my desk, the photography area and storage). This was 2000.
Building Upgrade #2 : The whole building
After some time, our president built his own strip mall outside of town and moved the electrical contractor to one of the bays there. This opened up that area for some extra repair parts storage. Around the same time (before / after is a bit fuzzy for me), the trucking company moved out as well, opening up quite a few bays and much more warehouse space. My original office space had become so crowded (as many as 5 people at one point) that I was working at a different location owned by our president's brother.
Building Upgrade #3 : Southward Expansion
By 2004, the building was getting pretty crowded. At the end of the year, construction was completed on a 10,000 square foot expansion to the south. The additional storage where the electrical contractor had been was being remodeled to be our new IT offices, and we had already built a new call center which was filling up (the reason for the new IT offices). On top of needing the space for additional inventory, we were getting 4 horizontal carousels to handle the volume of parts orders. At around 56' wide and 70' long by 12' tall, they occupied quite a section of warehouse space. The picture shows them as we were assembling them and loading the cardboard dividers for the first time.
Building Upgrade #4 : New Building
That's right, we're now in the process of moving to a new building. It didn't take long for that extra 10,000 square feet to become too little. Also, the call center is rather small for our current needs, and we're not going to downsize any time soon. We'll have enough room for 3 times as many CSR's, as well as room to expand the building to over double its current size without losing all of our parking space.
The 6 acres should help out considerably when we look to expand next. As you can see, we're doing a bit of renovation to it. New walls, new layout, adding a second floor in some areas, automatic sliding doors, even new foundation for some areas. We're also wiring it entirely in CAT-6, and I'll have 6 jacks at my desk. One will be used for phone, the rest for data. Much nicer than the hub I have on my desk now, although I'll lose my "Network Speedometer" that 3Com had built into this one. Oh, well. The price of Progress.
The future looks bright
The future should be exciting. Nobody here knows what to expect in the future, all of us included. We just know to expect change.