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Top Metal Builders for 2014

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The growth and development of the metal building systems industry has ramped up over the last few years as the economy has grown. But even with a growing economy, the industry participants are facing tough and challenging obstacles. For the Top Metal Builders of 2014, those challenges generally boiled down to two things: shortage of qualified labor and difficult weather conditions.

Nonetheless, the companies listed here have met those challenges and achieved industry-wide success. We break the Top Metal Builders list into two components. The 100 largest companies as measured by tonnage of steel put in place. And the 100 largest companies as measured by total square footage built.

In 2014, the companies listed here increased total tonnage used by 23.4 percent compared to 2013. The square footage of buildings constructed increased 17.6 percent compared to 2013. Of particular note regarding this year's submissions is the fact that the number of submissions increased 32 percent compared to the previous year, and that year showed a 14 percent increase in submissions. At Metal Construction News, we take that as the most positive sign of a growing industry. It is an axiom of these kinds of lists that companies who are declining or not feeling like they're measuring up do not tend to submit. When times are good though, submissions increase.

More Links:

Complete List of Companies
Top 100 Companies Ranked by Tonnage
Top 100 Companies Ranked by Square Footage
Map of Top 100 by Tonnage
Map of Top 100 by Square Footage

Even though all the indicators show good times, as mentioned there are a couple of challenges that our builders are facing. For the first year, we asked people to indicate their biggest challenges, and worker shortage and weather were the clear winners. Among the other challenges receiving more than one mention were lack of financing, difficulty in holding margins due to price competitiveness and overburdening from regulations.

The labor shortage was the clear leader in challenges though, and it extended from the obvious difficulty in finding qualified erectors and trades people to the less obvious one of lack of truck drivers that is leading to delays in material shipping. There is no easy answer to solve the labor shortage, but traditionally companies that have succeeded in attracting the best workers are those that view it as a competition and actively recruit.

At the least, company owners can feel as if they have some control over their labor and can take action to address the challenge. But the weather is a different issue. As has often been said, "Everybody complains about the weather but nobody does anything." For metal building contractors trying to meet schedules and make efficient use of their crews, the long, cold winter of 2014 (during which more than 50 percent of the country was covered in snow) presented huge challenges and significantly curtailed construction opportunities. This is reflected not only in the Top Metal Builder list but in the overall construction numbers from last year.

Still, the last presages reasons for optimism. More companies are submitting. There is more continuity in the list from year to year, showing companies have achieved stability. Overall numbers are increasing. New companies are finding success in a raw market. Established companies are achieving growth by taking on more sophisticated projects. We are looking forward to seeing the list for 2015.

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Fun Facts:

Average Tonnage 2013: 1,400.3 tons
Average Tonnage 2014: 1,727.6 tons
Percent Increase: 23.4 percent
Average Square Footage 2013: 340,960 square feet
Average Square Footage 2014: 401,024 square feet
Percent Increase: 17.6 percent

Company with the largest ranking increase in tonnage from 2013 to 2014: Canco General Contractors Inc., Plant City, Fla. (61 places)
Company with the largest ranking increase in square footage from 2013 to 2014: Rudolph Libbe Inc., Walbridge, Ohio (39 places)
Company with the largest percent increase in tonnage from 2013 to 2014: CM Contracting Inc., Battle Creek, Mich. (99.7 percent)
Company with the largest actual increase in tonnage from 2013 to 2014: Design Systems Builders Inc., Nashville, Tenn. (4,010.0 tons)
Company with the largest percent increase in square footage from 2013 to 2014: CM Contracting Inc. (100.0 percent)
Company with the largest actual increase in square footage from 2013 to 2014: Keller Inc., Kaukauna, Wis. (451,951 square feet)

Oldest company founded: Dunn Building Co., Birmingham, Ala. (1878)
Newest company founded: GridCor Developments Ltd., Lloydminster, Alberta, Canada (2014)