Top Metal Builders for 2016
Over the last few years, we have seen a couple of trends emerge
in the Top Metal Builders survey. The industry has been growing,
and our builders are getting more work. But there is a constraint,
and it's the shortage of skilled labor.
For the 100 builders in the Top Metal Builders of 2016, we saw a
22.2 percent increase in their average tonnage over 2015 and a 16.5
percent increase in square footage. Last year we saw big growth at
the top of the list, but that didn't hold true this year. Instead,
there have been companies up and down the list who experienced huge
growth, and we also saw quite a number of new companies make
significant impacts in 2016.
But there were struggles as well, and they went to the heart of
the growth of the industry. Almost every one of our respondents
mentioned that the shortage of skilled labor is the most
significant challenge they faced in 2015. That shortage, many said,
prevented them from taking on work that was available, and all
appearances are that this labor shortage is having a dampening
effect on industry growth.
The second biggest challenge mentioned was among those companies
that work in the oil-andgas states, such as Texas, Louisiana,
Colorado and North Dakota. Plummeting oil prices have caused
significant cutbacks among refineries and other service providers
in the industry, which is heavily reliant on metal building systems
for warehouses, mechanical shops and other functions.
We can expect that problem to resolve as oil prices begin
creeping back up to historic norms, but the labor shortage will
bedevil metal building contractors for the foreseeable future.
To bring those challenges to life, in this year's coverage we've
included brief profiles of companies who are succeeding in a tough
environment. We also offer some historical context with graphs
showing the Top Metal Builder growth over the last few years.
Average Tonnage 2015: 1,459.1 tons
Average Tonnage 2016: 1,874.7 tons
Percent Increase: 22.2 percent
Average Square Footage 2015: 450,602 square
Average Square Footage 2016: 539,475 square
Percent Increase: 16.5 percent
Company with the largest ranking increase in tonnage
from 2015 to 2016: VIP Structures, Syracuse, N.Y. (72
Company with the largest ranking increase in square
footage from 2015 to 2016: Steel Building Specialists
Inc., Baltimore (52 places)
Company with the largest percent increase in tonnage from
2015 to 2016: Wesex Corp., West Middlesex, Pa. (5,906.3
Company with the largest actual increase in tonnage from
2015 to 2016: Sure Steel, South Weber, Utah (8,038
Company with the largest percent increase in square
footage from 2015 to 2016: Wesex Corp. (5,009.4
Company with the largest actual increase in square footage
from 2015 to 2016: Sure Steel (1,678,153 square feet)
Oldest company founded: Dunn Building Co.,
Birmingham, Ala. (1878)
Newest company founded: Quanta Building Group,
Coppell, Texas (2016)
Metal Builder Spans
By Mark Robins, Senior Editor
In 1990, Las Cruces, N.M.-based Warren Construction Inc. got its
start as a metal builder erecting hay barns and small metal
buildings for farmers and dairies. Because of its promise and
commitment to quality workmanship from beginning to end, Warren
Construction soon completed its first multi-million dollar project,
a gym, and then the company became an official Butler builder with
Butler Manufacturing, Kansas City, Mo.
One of its most visible projects⎯one that Warren Construction
president Steve Warren says people driving down the freeway will
comment on⎯is a 250- foot clear span building called the Real
Valley Onion Building. Located in Rincon, N.M., Warren calls it a
"big, beautiful building."
"The long, clear span was a challenge for us, it took a couple
of cranes and a couple of reach lifts to install," he adds. "We
went with a taller pitch, and metal's lightweight really helped us
a lot. The client was real particular about the finishes and the
work that we do, but because we are detail-oriented we were OK.
During the planning, Butler was very helpful. We went back and
forth between Butler and the owner until we finally realized where
the owner wanted specific areas for things."
Warren says his company enjoys working with metal, and will
continue to install both stick-frame and bar-joist construction,
and other types of buildings with it depending on the demand.
its Business Model
By Marcy Marro, Editor
Wesex Corp., West Middlesex, Pa., is an architectural design and
self-performing design-build firm that is using building
information modeling (BIM) to drive its business model by
maximizing efficiency through each project life cycle.
According to Melanie Panutsos, chief design officer, Wesex
completely integrated BIM into every aspect of their business over
the past year. This includes design, construction, documentation,
virtual reality simulation, renderings, field layouts,
coordination, budgeting, scheduling, as builts and shop
"If you can dream it, we can put it in Revit, and if we can't,
we won't sleep until we find a way," says Panutsos. "Our business
solutions analyst is now developing custom app integrations for the
things that we want to do that aren't yet integrated into the
software. We have mobile BIM stations in the field for our
superintendents that enable them to get real-time updates and
digitally post questions/ comments and as-built information that
gets funneled back into the model immediately."
The standard operating procedures the company has been
cultivating over the last year has allowed it to better respond to
potential opportunities, provide more holistic and integrated
proposal responses and build high-quality projects out faster.
"It's not a change or shift in the company," says Greg Koledin,
chief construction officer, "it's a complete re-write of
fundamental content knowledge and textbook workflows."
Outshines Rain Delays
By Christopher Brinckerhoff, Associate
Wet weather conditions can slow the pace of construction and
heighten the risk of costly deadline delays. Rain one day can cause
a three-day stoppage in erection. Costs for exceeding a project's
completion deadline extend beyond labor and materials to liquidated
damages paid to owners, compounded daily.
Mike Prezzato, co-owner at Midland, Mich.- based Moltus Building
Group, says his company faced the challenges posed by rain even
during months typically associated with dry conditions including
May, August and September. The designbuilder rose to the challenge
and employed several tactics to mitigate the wet conditions and
emerge with more than 40 percent annual growth in square footage
and steel tonnage.
First, Moltus Building Group put a high priority on roof
installations so trade workers could start as early as possible.
Second, to speed up the drying process, the company added a Lyme
and cement dust mixture to wet soil in paving areas. "It costs a
few dollars to do that, but it's better to do that than pay
liquidated damages and lose a good customer," Prezzato says.
Third, Prezzato says there's a heightened need to keep job sites
organized and components clean in wet conditions. "Because if
they're not clean when you erect it, you're going to be on scissor
lifts with power washers cleaning the mud off the steel to make it
presentable and ready for paint," he says.