Adaptive Endurance

For more than 30 years, S&S Structures Inc. has navigated the ebbs and flows of the construction business. With three generations of the Seyler family at the helm, the Fleetwood, Pa.-based erector has adapted to changing conditions in the market and on jobsites, and found ways to grow its business.

Erector’s willingness to change, improve and grow has yielded success and staying power

By Christopher Brinckerhoff

Dylan and Tim Seyler

Today, S&S has a stout reputation as a reliable and flexible partner. It supplies and erects many types of buildings and offers a robust range of services.

It all began in 1986, when father and son Calvin and Timothy Seyler established S&S, and transitioned their small, mostly residential, general contracting business into a pre-engineered metal building erection company. In the 1990s, S&S formally partnered with some manufacturers of the buildings it erected.

Today, with Dylan Seyler, vice president of operations and Tim Seyler’s son, taking on an increasing amount of responsibility, S&S offers additional project planning services, specialty project services, design-build partnership, insulated metal panel (IMP) supply and installation, and additional options to customize buildings.

Two cranes lift modularized roof sections to construct PPC Excursions Inc., Reading, Pa. S&S Structures used modular erection techniques to erect a 140-foot clear span hangar.

Specialty Work

As market demands changed throughout the years, S&S expanded its offerings to meet them. One of those critical moments occurred in 2009, when the economy tanked and construction projects dried up. “We were fortunate enough to get our foot in the door with the Marcellus Shale work here in Pennsylvania, Ohio and the Virginias,” Tim Seyler says.

During that three to four year period beginning in 2009, S&S built more than 45 compressor stations on the gas pipeline projects. Working around gas pipelines required extensive planning, training and documentation, Tim Seyler says.

“We got out there and really stepped up the game because we were working with gas and oil companies, and a lot more oversight, and a lot of regulations on those sites,” Tim Seyler says. “But we learned how to do it, and we did it well.”

Seabrook Power Station, Seabrook, N.H. S&S Structures supplied and erected a conventional enclosure over a live 300kV switchyard at a nuclear generation facility.

Good Partner

S&S’s expertise allows the company to offer advanced planning services for projects. It’s more than a supplier and installer. S&S can help coordinate many aspects of projects including value engineering, Tim Seyler says, which can lead to better quality, and time and cost savings. “We can get hired to just do erection services on a building, have no input to sequencing and timing, or on the design of the project. And then, on the other hand, we can get called in early on and be an asset to that whole process, and we bring more expertise to the table.”

S&S’s flexibility in the planning stages of projects continues onto job sites. Dylan Seyler says, “When it comes to being flexible with our crews and working with construction managers and general contractors, we take the attitude that there are a lot of people on the job site, and everybody really has to work together because the goal is a successful project. Not just a successful project for me, but for everybody.”

Being flexible on job sites can entail changing sequencing, and re-planning or speeding up parts of a job to give other trade workers time and space to complete their work, Dylan Seyler says. “We work with and work through the process, because we get it, nothing ever goes exactly to plan. If we have the ability to man-up a job for a short window of time, and trim time off the end of the job, then that benefits the whole project.”

Relationships and Reputation

S&S cultivates its reputation as a trustworthy partner with existing and potential clients on multiple fronts. In particular, Tim Seyler, self-affiliated with the “old school,” says he prefers conducting business in person. “I like to sit across the desk from somebody and look them eye to eye and have a conversation. I’m of that school, yet I think if I want to do business with somebody I want to see who they are.”

Given the company’s history and reputation, all the commercial and industrial contractors in its vicinity know them, Tim Seyler says. To stay in business 33 years, though, one cannot take client relationships for granted, he says. “It’s just a matter of having their confidence at the time. If I’m not in someone’s office for two years, they forget who you are. You’ve got to keep in contact.”

S&S is flexible and adaptive in this aspect of business, as well. Dylan Seyler is leading new efforts to promote and maintain S&S’s reputation through its online presence. He posts interesting and attractive pictures of projects on Facebook and Instagram. So far, the effects have been threefold. Prospective clients and employees learn about the company, and S&S employees have been enjoying interacting on social media.

When Dylan Seyler, who is 33 years old, solicits project managers, estimators and others in his age demographic for new work, he says the first thing they do is look up S&S online, which can influence them about whether or not to do business with his company. “They’re going to see what kind of content is out there to get an idea of what we do and who we are.”

The same thing happens with prospective employees, which S&S constantly pursues, Dylan Seyler says. “We have a lot of guys that come in that say ‘I looked at your Facebook page and saw what you do.’”

S&S’s social media efforts produced a third, unexpected, result, Dylan Seyler says: employees enjoyed it. Workers at different job sites started communicating with each other on the company’s social media. “It keeps the rest of the crew engaged with what else is going on in the company, which was a surprising side effect,” Dylan Seyler says. “But they seem to really get a kick out of it.”