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CONSTRUCTION FOR FINGERHUT NEARLY ON TARGET

After six months work on Fingerhut Inc.'s Western distribution center, corporate officials say the construction pace is only slightly behind schedule for the target completion date of early 1996.

"Early 1996 is still the plan," said Lee Wilwerding, director of industrial engineering for Finger- hut. "Everything has been going well, aside from the weather. We were not expecting to deal with all the moisture in what we thought was a desert, so it has forced us to shoot back the date. But it should not affect the final outcome much at all in the end."When completed, the 1 million-square-foot structure, at the mouth of Spanish Fork canyon, will be larger than the building that will house its newest industrial neighbor to the north, Micron. Construction workers say it's a mile drive around the building. Fingerhut officials say the structure's enormous size is necessary to house the 500 employees they will hire.

But the building's size has caused most of its problems so far.

When the weather turned snowy in November, construction workers were required to hoist all-terrain vehicles on the roof to scrape off snow before the roof caved in. Early on in the construction process, extreme winds blew over a huge section of steel support beams.

Wilwerding said the difficulties encountered with the warehouse's construction are inherent problems that would accompany the building of any structure its size. He also said Spanish Fork taxpayers should not be concerned about its delayed opening.

The main structural parts of the distribution center are mostly completed, and several smaller tasks, including the tedious work of moving equipment into the building, remain.

Wilwerding has also taken time recently to talk up Fingerhut's new employee base. He recently told the Minnesota Real Estate Journal that Fingerhut corporate officials considered building plants in Utah, Nevada, New Mexico and Arizona but decided that Utah met their criteria best, particularly from a people perspective.

"We have designed a highly automated, computer-integrated facility," Wilwerding said. "Virtually everybody in the facility will be working with the computer on a regular basis, so the literacy level and work ethic were important. Utah came out head and shoulders above the rest of them."