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Earl Raymond: A legacy of promoting safety and education to metal building contractors and educators

2015 Metal Construction Hall of Fame

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In 1980, Earl Raymond got his start in the metal building industry at Denver-based Denver Commercial Builder Inc. (DCB) working as an accountant. DCB is a Builder with Kansas City, Mo.-based Butler Manufacturing, producing pre-engineered metal buildings (PEMBs) since the early 1960s. Raymond claims to have no idea (at that time) what a PEMB was. One day he overheard DCB owner Perry Peine and Chris Long debating a PEMB issue. Peine was president of Systems Building Association (SBA) and Long was administrator director. Later that day Peine stopped by Raymond's office and enlightened him about the metal building industry, and ever since then, the PEMB industry has been a huge part of Raymond's life.

"I liked the idea of how metal buildings are designed and fabricated to be a complete enclosed structure from one source," Raymond says. "This is different from a structural steel building where they use steel for the frame, and wood, masonry or stucco on the exterior. A PEMB is typically a one-source, one-product design from one manufacturer complete with roof, walls, doors, window and all necessary trim, gutters and downspouts for a complete enclosed building. I immediately took an interest; this PEMB seems to have a little more excitement than the standard end-of-month closing and financial statements."

Peine and his successor, John Barna (who is also is a past president of SBA), both became Raymond's mentors into the PEMB business. "I was mentored by Barna throughout the 1990s, and joined the board of what is now known as the MBCEA," Raymond says. "I served on the board of MBCEA as treasurer for 20-plus years." Mentoring has been an important part of Raymond's career. "I was mentored by people in the industry and feel obligated to mentor others," he says. "If you mentor a young individual in the industry you hope they will continue and support the industry as you have."

"My goal was and is that safety has got to be the number one priority in the industry. Your employees should go back home to their families every night as healthy at they show up in the morning. Within this industry you have to keep safety in the formula. Pre-engineered metal buildings must be erected safely."

Earl Raymond

MBI and Training

As an MBCEA board member, Raymond helped establish the Metal Building Institute (MBI), where he also worked as its treasurer. Of more significance, it was here where he spent numerous hours and dollars helping MBCEA and MBI develop the Craftsman DVD training series.

"MBI came about at the same time that the DVD training series was being created, in the early 1990s," he says. "With our training, we felt it was easier to do this under an institute that offered training instead of an association. We set that up and ran all the training through the MBI. We thought we could get grant money through MBI to help with the expenses. We marketed ourselves as industry trainers who could train workers within the PEMB industry. Colleges like Colorado State University were putting out young men and women into the industry with degrees in Construction Management, but they had no classes on PEMBs. We tried in the 1980s to make a collegiate course to teach this, but it didn't happen. Other people like me had tried throughout the United States, but other colleges weren't interested and didn't accept the request."

Working with a team, Raymond helped develop 13 DVDs, available online, for the PEMB industry by themselves. One focused on the tools necessary to put together a PEMB; another was how to unload a truck when it shows up at the job site. The series went all the way to the final training DVD: how to put up trim and gutters. With this important information, new employees can be tested and scored, and upon a successful completion, receive a certificate.

Raymond stressed construction safety in the DVDs and has done so throughout his life. "My goal was and is that safety has got to be the number one priority in the industry," Raymond says. "Your employees should go back home to their families every night as healthy as they show up in the morning. Within this industry you have to keep safety in the formula. Pre-engineered metal buildings must be erected safely."

30 Years

After 30 years in the construction and steel industries Raymond still remains busy. After resigning from DCB in 2013 where he served as the CFO and partner, he accepted a position as vice president of Systems Contractors Inc. and Systems Buildings Inc., a steel erection company and pre-engineered metal building supplier in Thornton, Colo.

Over 30 years, Raymond says he sees one of the biggest changes in the industry is getting away from the "tin shack reputation" the metal construction industry was labeled with. "The project I'm working on now is one you would never know is a metal building," he says. Among his many projects, he is proudest to have worked on include three manufacturing facilities for a wind blade manufacturer, several Harley Davidson facilities and several military base installations throughout the United States, including a 490-square-foot, clear-span air force base hangar.

Because of his extensive industry involvement and proven track record, Raymond received the Robert & Beverly Ketenbrink Service Award from the MBCEA. "This award gives recognition to the recipient for their service and contributions to the metal building industry," says Michael Reynolds, current president of Systems Contractors and future president of MBCEA. "He has unwavering dedication and strong moral character. He has earned the respect of everyone who knows him, by being honest and sincere. He has devoted countless hours of his life volunteering on many associations and boards, contributing his knowledge where needed."