Streamline, Differentiate, and Prosper

By Administrator It goes without saying that the residential and light commercial construction climate of the last few years has been, how should we put this … harsh, difficult, downright ugly maybe? Most small to medium size businesses that have survived the last few years in these markets have had to claw, scratch and fight… Continue reading Streamline, Differentiate, and Prosper
By Administrator


It goes without saying that the residential and light commercial construction climate of the last few years has been, how should we put this … harsh, difficult, downright ugly maybe? Most small to medium size businesses that have survived the last few years in these markets have had to claw, scratch and fight for every nickel to keep the doors open, especially those involved in new home construction.

Nationally, since 2006, dozens of major homebuilders have closed up shop and more are just squeaking by with a drastically reduced number of employees and home starts. And that is just the story on the big guys; there are untold numbers of smaller builders, framers, bricklayers, drywall contractors, painters and concrete companies that have also had to call it quits.

On the other hand, some companies have been able to reinvent themselves and make good use of some downtime caused by the bursting of the housing bubble. They have continued to hone their management skills, upgrade their workforces, add technologies and improve their processes and practices; rolling out their products and services to the markets they serve like well-oiled machines-sometimes even literally with a machine, but more on that later. Some of these companies have even managed to succeed and-dare I say-prosper during the housing downturn.

What do these companies have in common? They have guts, determination, drive, work ethic, keen business sense and a willingness to take a calculated risk when necessary. One such company is Precision Steel Framing & Construction in West Monroe, La. This story is about how they have survived and prospered the last couple of years.

PSF began in 2003 as a small construction company and is now a multi-million dollar manufacturing and construction company and continues to plan for future development opportunities. The ownership team that directly manages the business has a combined 85 years drafting, engineering and construction experience. Each of their managing partners has decades of relative experience. From Uwe Schmidt, president and construction manager, who has exported millions of dollars’ worth of products abroad and has been building homes and commercial structures throughout his career, to Grady Williams and Frank Swayze, vice presidents and both very successful residential and commercial developers and builders, to Ralph McMickle, vice president and engineer, who has designed
and engineered dozens of housing projects, as well as worked in the aerospace, oil and gas and utilities industries among others. PSF offers turnkey steel framing fabrication, erection and construction for almost any residential or light commercial project. From single and multifamily structures to convenience stores, retail outlets and office complexes, PSF can provide the framing design, engineering and fabrication only, or they can provide general contracting services for the entire project.

PSF’s experienced ownership utilizes every measure available to lower costs and increase velocity through their company and to take care of their customers. Some examples employed by PSF are hiring rehabilitated employees to take advantage of work opportunity tax credits, utilizing industrial tax exemptions for property taxes on fixed assets and being zoned in enterprise tax zones by locating manufacturing in specific affordable housing communities. Additionally, PSF is not afraid of change; they are champions of change. They utilize unique products and manufacturing methods to offer higher quality, and extremely competitive, framing and construction solutions. Finally, they know a lot. And what they don’t know, they learn by leveraging their relationships with their vendor community and aligning themselves with their suppliers.

Upon completion of providing the framing on a current 60-home subdivision project in Church Point, La., they will have built more than 180 two-, three- and four-bedroom homes and duplexes utilizing steel framing in the last year, as well as several other light commercial structures utilizing cold-formed steel framing. In addition to that staggering statistic, the framing for these last 60 homes is well on its way as scheduled to be produced and on the job site in 60 days; most of it will be erected in that same 60 days.

They must have an army of people, right? Well, no they don’t.

They must be getting their framing from an outside resource, right? Nope. They designed it, engineered it, are producing it and shipping it themselves.

They must have a huge production facility with millions of dollars of capital equipment and a huge raw material storage yard, right? Sorry, no again. They have a modest fixed plant in West Monroe, but the plant they are using for their latest project is a small temporary location.

What would ordinarily be an unachievable goal is made possible by this temporary plant location and the technology used within it. Setup just for the fabrication of these 60 homes, this plant is equipped with Denton, Texas-based NUCONSTEEL’s automated framing systems which are small, mobile efficient and cost effective. These systems combine powerful design and engineering software with robust lightweight roll formers creating a very efficient integrated and automated method of turning architectural and structural plans and steel coils into panels and trusses for projects as fast as possible. PSF is also leveraging NUCONSTEEL’s applicable knowledge base of CFS, as well as their raw material supply for coils and other miscellaneous framing products and fasteners. A one-stop shop if you will.

Schmidt and a partner first saw a demonstration of these systems at the 2007 International Builders Show in Orlando, Fla. Rebecca Mosley, PSF’s operations manager says, “If not for the home show [Schmidt] saw first hand, we wouldn’t be where we are today.”

What can we learn from PSF? It appears what we have in PSF is a cohesive and knowledgeable management team that promotes a company philosophy that, as Schmidt described, “… delivers the baby to the customer nice and clean and wrapped in a blanket without the labor pains.” We have a multifaceted construction company utilizing streamlined manufacturing processes with automated steel framing software and equipment that produces panels and trusses.

Finally, we know that even when times are tough there is opportunity out there for those willing to do the work, find a competitive advantage and leverage it.

Steve Miller is the sales manager, automated framing systems, for Denton, Texas-based Nucon Steel.