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Farm Bureau Stone Strong Retaining Wall 2015 - New Wall Installation
After reviewing its options, Roane County Farm Bureau Insurance turns to C.R. Barger & Sons to make an impressive, aesthetically pleasing retaining wall out of Stone Strong retaining wall blocks.
Foothills Parkway
When Roane County Farm Bureau Insurance built its new location on a strategic corner lot in Kingston, Tenn., the long-standing company knew that it would need a strong retaining wall that could withstand the elements and the test of time. The wall, which would serve as a barrier between the new building and an adjacent church, would also have to build in a manner that would make the insurance company’s new neighbor feel confident and satisfied with the result.

“Our new wall would be located just 11 feet away from the church building, so it was critical that the structure be sound, strong, and durable,” says Rusty Byrd, agency manager and project owner. “We wanted the church’s members to feel confident that they weren’t going to be put at risk, and that they would be happy with the final result.” Farm Bureau Insurance investigated several different options for the job, including poured concrete and various different types of stacked stone walls. “We put out several bids and looked at a total of five different stone wall options,” says Byrd.

Wanting to work with a local vendor and contractor, the insurance firm selected C.R. Barger & Sons, Inc., of Lenoir City, Tenn., a licensed Stone Strong retaining wall block manufacturer. Made from precast concrete, Stone Strong is a large engineered retaining wall block that increases gravity wall height (with no tiebacks or geogrid), installs easily and quickly (resulting in schedule and labor savings), and incorporates a built-in void for internal drainage.

Byrd says the firm’s established relationship with Barger & Sons played an important role in the selection process. Additionally, he says Stone Strong’s large block size and aesthetically pleasing appearance was the perfect match not only for his firm, but also for its neighbors. “We were very focused on creating something that the church next door would enjoy and be proud of,” says Byrd, “and we think we did a pretty good job of achieving that goal.”
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Build It and They Will Come
To save installation time and create the most aesthetically pleasing wall possible, Barger & Sons manufactured 1,734 square feet of wall using primarily 24 square foot Stone Strong blocks. Comprised of 116 total blocks, the wall included two 45-degree corners. The largest Stone Strong block has a 24 square foot face and weighs about 6,000 pounds each. “We maximized the use of our largest, 24 square foot blocks, which allowed the installer to set the wall faster,” says Kelly Barger, Barger & Sons’ sales and customer development. “With fewer blocks to set, the project went very quickly.”

According to Barger, precast concrete retaining wall blocks was also a “very competitive option” as compared to the other materials that the project owner was considering. For example, using precast allowed the contractor to set the wall in extremely cold conditions – an option that wouldn’t have been available had the insurance firm selected a different material. The retaining wall blocks were manufactured in our controlled plant environment and delivered to the site ready to set. Other than the 45-degree corner blocks that were manufactured to fit the project specifications, Barger says this particular undertaking was pretty much business as usual for Barger & Sons. “It was a fairly typical project, with the only real challenge being the tight schedule set forth by the installer,” says Barger. “It wasn’t out of the ordinary, and we met it without a problem, but it was fairly tight in terms of turnaround time.”
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In this case, I would not have recommended any other kind of wall.
Walt Patterson - Patterson Home Builders
The First Time is the Charm
Walt Patterson, owner of Patterson Home Builders in Kingston, Tenn., installed the wall. He says the builder priced out the project three different ways, but notes that Stone Strong was by far the best option of the three. “I’d never installed a Stone Strong wall before, but after conferring with Barger & Sons it didn’t take me long to be convinced of its applicability for this project,” says Patterson. “The price was very competitive and the installation time was short for a project that was situated just 11 feet away from another building. It was a pretty easy choice.”

From Barger & Sons, Patterson and his installation team received onsite technical support for the entire project – start to finish. “I really liked the fact that they came to the jobsite and spent 2-3 hours a day helping to make sure everything was done correctly,” says Patterson. “That level of support really helped ensure a successful project and allowed us to build the best wall available, in my opinion.”

For example, Patterson recalls being particularly concerned about how to correctly align the Stone Strong blocks in the wall footer. From past experience, he knows that if the footer is out of alignment in any way, then making the heavy blocks line up properly can be a significant hurdle. “I figured out how to do it right in just one day,” says Patterson, “thanks to the help I received from Barger & Sons.”

Patterson says he was also impressed by the fact that his company was able to set the large wall within inches of a cut bank, and without losing any space in the process. “Because these are infill blocks (versus backfill) we were able to use the appropriate amount of gravel without having it take up the kind of space that other walls can consume,” says Patterson, who was extremely pleased by the peace of mind that the Stone Strong wall provided on the Farm Bureau Insurance project.

“For me, it’s all about making quality recommendations to my customers and going home at night knowing that the advice I’m giving is the absolute best that it can be,” says Patterson. “In this case, I wouldn’t have recommended any other kind of wall.”
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Seven Decades of Service
Located in a very high profile area of Roane County, the Farm Bureau’s new wall is now part of a long-standing tradition that its owner established back in 1948, the year it started selling property and casualty policies in Tennessee. At the time, farming was a more dangerous occupation than it is now, and many insurance companies were unwilling to insure farm structures. As a result, the farmers of Tennessee, working through the Tennessee Farm Bureau, launched their own insurance company.

It wasn't long before friends and neighbors wanted to take advantage of Farm Bureau's insurance program, which today insures more homes and automobiles than any other insurer in Tennessee. Farm Bureau Insurance's life company was launched in 1973 and today is the second largest writer of individual life policies in Tennessee. With at least one office in every county across the state, Farm Bureau Insurance operates 16 regional claims centers throughout Tennessee, employs more than 350 claims professionals, and serves more than 650,000 member families.

Ranked by J.D. Power as the highest in customer satisfaction among auto insurers in the Southeast Region for three years in a row, Farm Bureau Insurance has built a reputation on strength, reliability, and longevity. The makers of Stone Strong retaining wall systems have followed a similar mission by creating a product that its users can rely on for decades to come. Available in 24, 6, and 3 square foot faces, the blocks range in weight from 800 to 6,000 pounds and can be equipped with component blocks to finish out ends, tops and corners.

Examples of uses of the Stone Strong retaining wall block include landscaping and residential projects, commercial projects, box culvert wing walls, bridge abutments, bank stabilization, pond border walls, roadway expansion projects, and many other applications. The wall blocks are a natural choice where other block types have failed and serve as a very competitive retaining wall option, especially when the finished wall cost is compared.

As a service to its customers, Barger & Sons also offers outside geotech engineering services (if required), and works closely with the engineer and project owner by providing feedback about block stackout and preferences to optimize the wall in terms of material, installation, and schedule. For local jobs, the precast manufacturer provides onsite technical support as needed, and provides both aerial video and photography documentation of its jobs.

100% Positive Feedback
When Farm Bureau Insurance’s Board of Directors came out to survey the new wall in Roane County, Patterson says the positive comments and feedback were plentiful. “Not only is it strong and sturdy, but it’s also attractive,” says Patterson. “The finished product is so nice that there’s no need to go back and install any facing or anything else to make it look aesthetically pleasing.”

The city’s inspectors were equally as impressed with the final product, Patterson recalls. “They’d never inspected a Stone Strong wall before and they really liked it,” he says, adding that the wall was straighter and more uniform than any similar project he’d worked on in the past. “I've installed a lot of walls, but this one is by far the best looking wall we've ever built; and the strongest.”

Byrd concurs with Patterson and says members of the neighboring church have been extremely complimentary about the final product. “Now that it’s up and finished, they have full confidence in it,” says Byrd, who sees the sheer size of the individual blocks as one of the biggest advantages of using Stone Strong for this project. “When people see blocks that large and that well made, it gives them comfort in knowing that the wall is going to do its job.”
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