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Top Metal Builders for 2016

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Over the last few years, we have seen a couple of trends emerge in the Top Metal Builders survey. The industry has been growing, and our builders are getting more work. But there is a constraint, and it's the shortage of skilled labor.

For the 100 builders in the Top Metal Builders of 2016, we saw a 22.2 percent increase in their average tonnage over 2015 and a 16.5 percent increase in square footage. Last year we saw big growth at the top of the list, but that didn't hold true this year. Instead, there have been companies up and down the list who experienced huge growth, and we also saw quite a number of new companies make significant impacts in 2016.

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

"Metal Builders Spans Construction Success," Warren Construction Inc., Las Cruces, N.M.

"Design-builder Redefines its Business Model," Wesex Corp., West Middlesex, Pa.

"Design-builder Outhsines Rain Delays," Moltus Building Group, Midland, 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


Fun Facts:

Average Tonnage 2015: 1,459.1 tons
Average Tonnage 2016: 1,874.7 tons
Percent Increase: 22.2 percent
Average Square Footage 2015: 450,602 square feet
Average Square Footage 2016: 539,475 square feet
Percent Increase: 16.5 percent

Company with the largest ranking increase in tonnage from 2015 to 2016: VIP Structures, Syracuse, N.Y. (72 places)
Company with the largest ranking increase in square footage from 2015 to 2016: Steel Building Specialists Inc., Baltimore (52 places)
Company with the largest percent increase in tonnage from 2015 to 2016: Wesex Corp., West Middlesex, Pa. (5,906.3 percent)
Company with the largest actual increase in tonnage from 2015 to 2016: Sure Steel, South Weber, Utah (8,038 tons)
Company with the largest percent increase in square footage from 2015 to 2016: Wesex Corp. (5,009.4 percent)
Company with the largest actual increase in square footage from 2015 to 2016: Sure Steel (1,678,153 square feet)

Oldest company founded: Dunn Building Co., Birmingham, Ala. (1878)
Newest company founded: Quanta Building Group, Coppell, Texas (2016)


Company Profiles


Metal Builder Spans Construction Success
By Mark Robins, Senior Editor

In 1990, Las Cruces, N.M.-based Warren Construction Inc. got its start as a metal builder erecting hay barns and small metal buildings for farmers and dairies. Because of its promise and commitment to quality workmanship from beginning to end, Warren Construction soon completed its first multi-million dollar project, a gym, and then the company became an official Butler builder with Butler Manufacturing, Kansas City, Mo.

One of its most visible projects⎯one that Warren Construction president Steve Warren says people driving down the freeway will comment on⎯is a 250- foot clear span building called the Real Valley Onion Building. Located in Rincon, N.M., Warren calls it a "big, beautiful building."

"The long, clear span was a challenge for us, it took a couple of cranes and a couple of reach lifts to install," he adds. "We went with a taller pitch, and metal's lightweight really helped us a lot. The client was real particular about the finishes and the work that we do, but because we are detail-oriented we were OK. During the planning, Butler was very helpful. We went back and forth between Butler and the owner until we finally realized where the owner wanted specific areas for things."

Warren says his company enjoys working with metal, and will continue to install both stick-frame and bar-joist construction, and other types of buildings with it depending on the demand.


Design-builder Redefines its Business Model
By Marcy Marro, Editor

Wesex Corp., West Middlesex, Pa., is an architectural design and self-performing design-build firm that is using building information modeling (BIM) to drive its business model by maximizing efficiency through each project life cycle.

According to Melanie Panutsos, chief design officer, Wesex completely integrated BIM into every aspect of their business over the past year. This includes design, construction, documentation, virtual reality simulation, renderings, field layouts, coordination, budgeting, scheduling, as builts and shop drawings.

"If you can dream it, we can put it in Revit, and if we can't, we won't sleep until we find a way," says Panutsos. "Our business solutions analyst is now developing custom app integrations for the things that we want to do that aren't yet integrated into the software. We have mobile BIM stations in the field for our superintendents that enable them to get real-time updates and digitally post questions/ comments and as-built information that gets funneled back into the model immediately."

The standard operating procedures the company has been cultivating over the last year has allowed it to better respond to potential opportunities, provide more holistic and integrated proposal responses and build high-quality projects out faster. "It's not a change or shift in the company," says Greg Koledin, chief construction officer, "it's a complete re-write of fundamental content knowledge and textbook workflows."


Design-builder Outshines Rain Delays
By Christopher Brinckerhoff, Associate Editor

Wet weather conditions can slow the pace of construction and heighten the risk of costly deadline delays. Rain one day can cause a three-day stoppage in erection. Costs for exceeding a project's completion deadline extend beyond labor and materials to liquidated damages paid to owners, compounded daily.

Mike Prezzato, co-owner at Midland, Mich.- based Moltus Building Group, says his company faced the challenges posed by rain even during months typically associated with dry conditions including May, August and September. The designbuilder rose to the challenge and employed several tactics to mitigate the wet conditions and emerge with more than 40 percent annual growth in square footage and steel tonnage.

First, Moltus Building Group put a high priority on roof installations so trade workers could start as early as possible. Second, to speed up the drying process, the company added a Lyme and cement dust mixture to wet soil in paving areas. "It costs a few dollars to do that, but it's better to do that than pay liquidated damages and lose a good customer," Prezzato says.

Third, Prezzato says there's a heightened need to keep job sites organized and components clean in wet conditions. "Because if they're not clean when you erect it, you're going to be on scissor lifts with power washers cleaning the mud off the steel to make it presentable and ready for paint," he says.