Art Hance: Fought for training and quality initiatives and an early adopter of AC 478 accreditation

2022 Metal Construction Hall of Fame

By Mark Robins

Art Hance Jun22 1

One day many years ago, Art Hance was serving on a non-profit board when he met a fellow board member, a general contractor who ran a large construction firm in New Jersey. Later that night while having a beer with him, Hance expressed his dissatisfaction with his current circumstances and the man told him to, “Just get off your ass and start your own company!”

This was a real turning point for Hance and it gave him the motivation to make a career change. He withdrew $1,200—all the money in his savings account—and founded Hance Construction Inc., Washington, N.J. in 2001. This advice proved beneficial and Hance is now considered a metal building industry leader.

Early on, Hance worked for a Butler builder in New Jersey. “I don’t think I set my eyes specifically on being in metal buildings, I had a daughter to support! I think I gravitated toward metal buildings due to my lifelong experience with cars and anything mechanical. Wood has too much variability.” He was director of business development for a $15 million industrial and commercial general contractor and served as the director of construction sales for a computer systems firm specializing in construction management software.

Operating as a problem-solver, Hance has built his company on tailored construction solutions and innovative approaches. Over 30 years of experience in construction and design have taught him to navigate through even the most complex projects while proactively investigating emerging construction technology and industry trends. A natural leader, he handles challenging situations with dexterity, and these attributes shine through when working with his clients who can rely on him to guide them through their projects.

“Twenty-five years ago, Art was just starting his own business, and he needed a good erector,” says Metal Construction News Hall of Famer Gary T. Smith, founder of Thomas Phoenix International, Eastampton, N.J. “At the same time, I had just started Thomas Phoenix International. We met at a job site; Art in his old SUV and me on my Harley Davidson. Art asked, ‘Can you do this job?’ I said ‘Yes, but I won’t accept final payment until you’re satisfied and I expect to be paid in a timely fashion.’ We shook hands, and we have gone on to do millions of dollars of business together. Art is old school as am I, and his word means something.”

“As a metal builder guy, you measure your successes by the projects you do. We’ve been fortunate to get some great projects. [But] the greatest successes are the relationships we’ve developed with owners and subcontractors who we work with, and being able to provide livelihoods to our own people.”

Art Hance

Hance’s interest in practical sustainability led him to be co-founder and sponsor of Green-by-Design, a workshop series for architects and engineers that began in 2004 and offer students American Institute of Architects (AIA) credit for participation in a variety of sustainable building practices. “We wanted to tell the story of sustainability of metal buildings,” he says. “Metal is the most recycled product in the construction industry and we wanted to get that message out there. It’s an opportunity to get in front of architects.” Hance also coauthored a continuing education symposium for architects and engineers specifically on the sustainable design of pre-engineered buildings.

A passionate voice for quality, excellence and integrity, Hance fights for access for everyone to safety, training and education. He is often called on to add his voice and expertise to committees, and has been active in associations. He has been past president, vice president and board member of the Metal Building Contractors & Erectors Association (MBCEA) and served as president of the MBCEA Mid-Atlantic Chapter for two years. Hance was involved with the Mid-Atlantic board’s decision to implement a scholarship program for chapter employees’ children who are focusing their studies on the construction industry. The chapter has awarded scholarships since 2016.

At MBCEA board meetings he fights for fair representation of contractors and has been instrumental in keeping the association well-balanced and committed to training and quality initiatives that benefit both contractors and erectors. He was an early adopter of the signature quality program AC478 that recognizes quality assemblers committed to training and education. Because of his leadership and perseverance this program became accessible to contractors as well as erectors. He continues to advocate for an AC478+ where the plus represents those extra items that a contractor does that an erector does not.