Metal Architecture Home

A.R. Ginn: A visionary who spearheaded the metal components industry

2016 Metal Construction Hall of Fame


Albert R. (A.R.) Ginn spent an impressive 48 years championing the metal construction industry before retiring in 2007. He began his long career as an assistant on the shop floor at Metallic Building Co., Houston in 1959. After spending seven years at Metallic, he joined A&S Building Systems in Houston, where he spent seven years learning the ins and outs of the metal building industry.

Ginn returned to Metallic in 1969 and was vice president of operations before leaving to found MBCI with his brother and business partners in July 1976. The company opened its first sales office and manufacturing facility in Houston, and began manufacturing basic metal building components such as roofing, siding and light-gauge structural steel.

The company was founded with the vision to provide customers with top-quality products; a good, safe place for employees, and was the first to introduce three-day service. MBCI became one of the leading suppliers of metal building components to the pre-engineered metal building industry, and was the first major manufacturer to switch to using prepainted Galvalume for its panels.

In 1987, Ginn embarked on a vertical integration strategy that led to acquiring both light-gauge and heavy-gauge coil coating facilities, and in 1990, he led the acquisition of American Building Components, Nicholasville, Ky. In 1995, he led a joint venture for a state-of-the-art light-gauge coating facility in Jackson, Miss., which is now wholly owned by Houston-based NCI Building Systems Inc.

In 1998, Ginn was instrumental in merging MBCI with NCI Building Systems Inc., and the company currently operates under NCI's components division. In 2000, Ginn became chairman of the board, and in 2003, CEO. In December 2006, he stepped down as CEO and retired from NCI/MBCI at the end of 2007.

"A.R. was truly a visionary kind of guy," says Bill Coleman, president of MBCI. "MBCI became one of the nation's leading providers of metal building components, a leader in innovative product development, and establishing a revolutionary weathertightness program that protected building owners."

Advancing the Industry

Ginn was instrumental in steering MBCI to become a leader in the metal construction industry. The company developed an industry leading standing seam roof and licensed numerous roof systems that became industry standards.

Coleman says he always sought to do the right thing and made decisions that were not only in NCI/ MBCI's best interest, but for the company's customers and the industry as well. This included selling licenses to other manufacturers for some of its products, allowing direct competitors to grow and promote their own businesses.

"A.R. was an innovator of products and the manufacturing processes, many that are broadly adopted today," Coleman says. "As a result of his efforts and promotion, metal panels have advanced to become an accepted energy-efficient solution for non-residential construction by both owners and the architectural community."

"In terms of products, quality and warranties, A.R. tried to make decisions that would help drive the industry forward, not just MBCI," Coleman adds. "And I think that a lot of what he did in those arenas put us in the position to be recognized as an industry leader, and the expectation by many of our peers within the industry was that we lead."

"A.R. was an innovator of products and the manufacturing processes, many that are broadly adopted today. As a result of his efforts and promotion, metal panels have advanced to become an accepted energy-efficient solution for non-residential construction by both owners and the architectural community."

-- Bill Coleman, president of MBCI

The Value of Relationships

Ginn encouraged strong relationships with key suppliers as a means of improving supply, delivery and quality of raw materials. His management philosophy was simple: "Take care of your employees first and they will take care of your customers. Everything else will take care of itself."

Coleman describes Ginn as being strong willed, with a determination to win. "He taught us the value of relationships," Coleman says, "relationships not only with customers, but strategic relationships with vendors as well. He built his business on relationships. We still enjoy relationships with many long-term customers today, 25 or 30 years later."

"He wanted to do everything he could to support our customers, to take care of them," Coleman adds. "He knew that without our customers, we didn't have a need for the plants, the buildings, the equipment."

In addition to customers, Ginn also thought very highly of the company's employees. "He often said that anyone could own the land, the buildings, and the equipment, but it's the employees, their hard work, their commitment, their dedication, that makes us who we are as a company," Coleman says.

He goes on to add that Ginn never forgot his beginnings and always insisted management do the right thing for its employees. "A.R. demanded a great deal from his employees, but nothing more than what he demanded of himself," he says. "He insisted that integrity and reputation were the most important values the company possessed. Whenever he was involved in a customer issue, his instructions were simple: 'Just do what's right!'"

"A.R. is one of the smartest guys I know," says John Lawrence, a 2012 Hall of Fame inductee. "The metal construction industry is what it is today because he championed it."

Looking back, Ginn says that when he first started working, he might need to find something else to do once everybody had a metal building. "The first year I went to work for Metallic, I thought everyone would have one of those buildings who needed them, and we wouldn't have anything else to do for awhile," he says. "It was one of those deals that the industry was a lot bigger than I could have imagined back in 1958."