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Top Metal Builders for 2015

Tmb2015  Map

Charles Dickens famously started his novel, "A Tale of Two Cities," with the line, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times."

For metal building contractors, that sentiment holds true for 2015. We saw significant growth among the members of our Top Metal Builders of 2015. The overall average for tonnage increased 10.8 percent and for square footage it jumped 20.7 percent. Our top of the list denizens saw significant growth, and the largest company, Span Construction & Engineering Inc., Madera, Calif., experienced a 5,889 ton increase. If that increase were a company, it would have placed eighth on the list.

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

Company Profiles

"Facing the Challenge Falling Oil Prices," Clay Development, Houston

"Managing Rapid Growth--Successfully," Keller Inc., Kaukauna, Wis.

"Meeting the Labor Shortage with Training and Team Building," a.j. Veneklasen, Grand Rapids, Mich.

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.

TMB Average Tonnage

 

Top Metal Builders Average Square Footage

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Fun Facts:

Average Tonnage 2014: 1,727.6 tons
Average Tonnage 2015: 1,937.1 tons
Percent Increase: 10.8 percent
Average Square Footage 2014: 401,024 square feet
Average Square Footage 2015: 505,709 square feet
Percent Increase: 20.7 percent

Company with the largest ranking increase in tonnage from 2014 to 2015: Raeco Builders LLC, Sioux Falls, S.D. (52 places)
Company with the largest ranking increase in square footage from 2014 to 2015: Aagaard-Juergensen LLC, Orlando, Fla. (71 places)
Company with the largest percent increase in tonnage from 2014 to 2015: Rhoads & Johnson LLC, Fenton, Mich. (96.7 percent)
Company with the largest actual increase in tonnage from 2014 to 2015: Span Construction & Engineering Inc., Madera, Calif. (5,899 tons)
Company with the largest percent increase in square footage from 2014 to 2015: Lundy Construction Co. Inc., Williamsport, Pa. (92.3 percent)
Company with the largest actual increase in square footage from 2014 to 2015: Keller Inc., Kaukauna, Wis., (762,460 square feet)

Oldest company founded: Dunn Building Co., Birmingham, Ala. (1878)
Newest company founded: Drasis Development, Peoria, Ariz. (2014)

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Company Profiles

 

Facing Challenge of Falling Oil Prices
By Mark Robins, Senior Editor

Clay Development ProjectSince 1998, Houston-based Clay Development & Construction Inc. has been a successful developer and design/builder of industrial build-to-suit facilities for sale or lease. This turnkey developer of metal and tilt-wall projects has a combined 175 years experience in the real estate business.

Falling oil prices has slightly hurt the company in recent years. "We've seen a barrel of oil's price fall from $100 to $40," says Albert W. Clay III, the company's leader. "It's cut our demand for new business in half. But our projects usually take 12 to 18 months to complete, and we've usually got about 15 projects going at one time, so it really hasn't sunk in just yet. A typical general contractor or fabricator would have really had their business cut."

One challenge facing Clay over the years has been hiring qualified employees. But most of Clay's 30-person staff has been with them over ten years, including his son. "I treat them fairly and reward them with bonuses, incentives, training and employee advancement," he says.

 

Managing Rapid Growth-Successfully
By Marcy Marro, Editor

Keller SuperintendentSince Keller Inc. opened in 1960 in Kaukauna, Wis., the company has continued to grow at a steady pace. "At Keller, everything we do revolves around our clients," says Wayne Stellmacher, president/CEO. "If we conduct our business with unyielding integrity and honesty, and perform well for our clients, they trust in us to build for them again and again. Our clients in Wisconsin have hired us to build for them across the nation and we are fortunate to have experienced additional growth."

In 2015, the company underwent a time of record growth, needing to hire new people, expand crews and travel nationwide for projects. "We're handling the growth we've experienced by expanding our team with additional architects, interior designers and crew personnel," explains Stellmacher. "We've expanded our offices and strive to increase efficiency each day."

Keller is 100 percent employee owned, has offices in the Fox Cities, Madison, Milwaukee and Wausau. The company employs more than 200 employee-owners. "Our employees have a deep understanding of the difference between an employee and an owner, and we know how to take care of our customers," Stellmacher says. "Everyone who works on a construction project has a vested interest as an owner of the company.

"Our clients have come to know the extras we provide and the difference employee ownership makes for them. They rest assured knowing that Keller will always take care of them and their projects. That is what attributes to our growth.

 

Meeting the Labor Shortage with Training and Team Building
By Christopher Brinckerhoff, Associate Editor

a.j. veneklasen projecta.j. Veneklasen Inc., a general contractor based in Grand Rapids, Mich., employs programs and practices to address a common challenge: attract and retain skilled workers. Rachel Austin, quality assurance manager at a.j. Veneklasen, says her company searches for people with good attitudes, hard work ethics and trainable minds. "One of the approaches we've used is to find people that have the right attitude, and then we train them the skill," she says.

The company's AJV University program will offer 10 training sessions during 2016 on topics including metal building system erection and installation, rigging and signal person, and how field leaders can motivate their teams.

Chris Veneklasen, president at a.j. Veneklasen, says his company's emphasis on safety and training coincides with efforts to improve working conditions and team building. Warm spaces for break times are provided during cold weather and, three or four times per year, the company hosts social events for employees including cookouts, baseball games and other outings. "The biggest thing is just understanding your people are your greatest asset, and treating them accordingly," Veneklasen says.