On a pleasant autumn day in Fairfax, Minnesota, two representatives from CILC Central America Corporation, Costa Rica division, arrived to tour the Schweiss Doors factory and place an order for a bifold liftstrap door that would be the first of its kind in Central America.
Jose Villegas, the CILC Compliance
Manager, and Esteban Quiros, the Project Engineer, ordered a bifold liftstrap door wind-rated at 90 mph, to be installed on the company’s new state-of-the-art jet hangar at Juan Santamaria International airport in Alajuela, Costa Rica. The
bifold door measures 79-feet, 9-inches by 21-feet,11-inches.
“The factory is amazing,” says Villegas. “The lineup of the fabrication area is very impressive, how you can turn a process that elsewhere would take many, many
Quiros was just as impressed. “The whole process of assembly has a very useful logic,” he says. “Where you put the materials, the assembly line, electrical parts and storage have a perfect sense of rotating
the process and how fast a door can be finished.”
Villegas says the factory visit also dispelled his preconceived thoughts that the door would be complicated. “When I saw it functioning … it’s basically very easy, it’s
very easy to assemble, it’s very easy to use; it’s like you are having a gate on your house in a bigger way, actually simpler. You have motors, you have your straps, you have your finished product. You just plug and play,” he says.
“Our client in Central America had a requirement that every part of the construction of the 2,159-square-foot hangar and door had to be from a certified provider,” Villegas says. “The buyer of the door told us to look at Schweiss
Doors. Basically, the buyer didn’t want any other door than a Schweiss bifold door for the new international corporate private jet hangar.”
Villegas and Quiros were very pleased they were able to make the trip to Minnesota. By doing
so, they obtained some very useful structural information from factory sales reps Jeremy Rieke and David Schweiss.
“Sitting down today and going through every single detail with David, we found mistakes by the building construction company
that were very important,” Villegas says. “There were problems with the main columns where the bifold door is to be attached at the sides. The way it was, it was too little to support the weight.”
Villegas and Quiros were
excited to get the door installed and believe it can be a showcase door for other hangar projects in Costa Rica. They want to impress the public authorities with the quality of the big hanger doors and other uses for Schweiss doors.
Solera, Vice President of Operations at CILC, coordinated delivery of the door container that first arrived at the overseas port of Moin, in Puerto Limon, and was then trucked inland to the International Airport of Alajuela. He also oversaw the installation
of the door. He described his experience, from visiting the Schweiss factory to dealing with international airport restrictions and Costa Rican custom agents holding on to the shipment for two weeks, as a daunting, but informative task. It took 22 days
to ship the door from the factory to the jobsite.
Quiros and Jose Pablo were trained to assemble the door upon its arrival, but were called away to work on other projects during the delay with customs. That left Project Engineer Rafael Ramirez
to complete the assembly.
“I have to be honest with you, we got help from above,” says Solera. “Resources came to us from everywhere: knowledge, equipment, tools, etc. This, combined with the effort the guys at Schweiss Doors
put into this, made our day. We were very proud and fortunate of having our company name next to the great Schweiss name.”
Solera said the assembly went well in part because of how the contents were neatly packaged and how every box was
“We learned the hard way that building inside an international airport is very complicated because of all the security, environmental and construction permits that are required. We had to wire all the electrical cables
into an aluminum tube and flexible conduit, and then, per customer request, we had to re-paint the door to comply with their strict quality standards.”
Solera says the hangar’s amenities are impressive: fiber optics, the latest
in surveillance technology, offices, boardroom, TV room, kitchenette, showers and a mirrored epoxy floor.
“I am very impressed that Schweiss is making a very good quality product than can be used for different purposes from showrooms
to house, shops, stadiums, NASA hangars, Army to stores; the whole spectrum of the market,” Quiros says.
Villegas estimated that once the door was built and placed in a shipping container, it would take about three weeks to arrive at
its overseas destination in San Jose. He says it’s the first large jet hangar door to be delivered to Central America.
“Not knowing how to put this project together and seeing a Schweiss bifold door for the first time, we were highly
dependent on the support and guidance from Schweiss personnel,” Solera says. “They are outstanding people; not only great human beings, but very patient and knowledgeable of the product they sell. I would not have been able to put this together
without that support. I convinced them to download ‘WhatsApp,’ an app that enabled us to do media calls in real time and make suggestions and send a picture that seconds later, they could see. That made it very easy for us. I’m looking
forward to doing more business with Schweiss.”