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Gourmet International Headquarters

A metal building system provides much needed space for today and room for future growth

Gourmet Hq Case Study 1

With a history dating back over 45 years, Gourmet International began when its founders immigrated to the U.S. from Germany and wanted to offer their local community an authentic taste of their homeland. However, in 1989, the core business shifted to specialty food importing and distribution after the family realized the potential for future profits and growth, as well as an opportunity to serve their customers better. The company is now operated by second-generation owners and is one of the fastest growing direct import and specialty foods companies in North America.

After going through many expansion projects at its existing facility in Grand Rapids, Mich., it became clear that Gourmet International’s current location could no longer support the company’s continued growth and space requirements and it was time to build the right facility to meet their immediate needs and give them room for the future.

“Clearly, a solution was needed to accommodate our growing inventory and the variety of products we offer,” says Michael Nitzsche, president of Gourmet International. “Our distribution networks continue to expand as well as our staff, and we desperately needed more space. Today we stock approximately 3,000 different items at any given time, and for certain holidays we manage several hundred more seasonal products which need to be easily accessed and quick to fulfill.”

While increased space and capacity were major goals of the building project, the company also needed an environment that maintained the quality of its products and improved the efficiency of its packing and shipping operations. The entire building needed to be temperature controlled and offer easily accessible truck docks, with flexible workspaces, that can adapt to changing needs—all with the goal of serving their customers well.

After deciding a move was necessary, the company began looking at their options. Gourmet International turned to Nucor Authorized Builder, First Companies, Grand Rapids, due to its long history of meeting the needs of companies requiring industrial, office and manufacturing space in the local area.

“The entire construction process went very smoothly. First Companies was right there, ready to assist with every decision. Their expert advice eased our minds as we undertook the largest project in our company’s history,” says Nitzsche.

First Companies collaborated with Waterloo, Ind.-based Nucor Building Systems on the design of a 124,000-square-foot custom metal building that includes 16,000 square feet of office space. The building gives the company much needed room for its warehouse, distribution and packaging operations, and features two refrigerated areas and one large freezer. The second level features a partial mezzanine with 12,000 square feet of executive office space, storage and an employee training area, with space to add offices for staff as the company grows. The entire building is temperature controlled and has an audio system throughout as well as extensive security monitoring and alarm systems. The exterior uses precast concrete panels and a Nucor CFR Roof system.

“For others considering a building program, my advice would be to build a space 20 to 25 percent larger than you think you need,” says Nitzsche. “Ongoing expansion projects cost a lot more than constructing and planning for growth from the start. Another thing we did was invest the money to construct with fewer support columns. This freed up more space and gives us a lot more flexibility on the layout of the warehouse.”

First Companies has been an Authorized Nucor Builder for nearly 10 years.

Carlie Smith is the marketing director for Nucor Building Systems, Waterloo, Ind. To learn more, visit