Since it was founded in 1980, Span Construction & Engineering has been forging a place for itself as a leader in the metal construction contracting field. Another chapter is added to the SPAN legacy with this issue of Metal Construction News as the Madera, CA, company is named the Top Metal Construction Contractor for the third straight year.
SPAN earned this most recent award by purchasing almost 7,900 tons of steel for metal building projects in 1992, while also recording sales which neared $28 million. The company completed in excess of 2.5 million sq. ft. of projects last year, following 1. 7 million to 1.8 million sq. ft. of construction in each of the two previous years.
Moreover, for those of us who are impressed by figures, SPAN has purchased in excess of $50 million of steel components from VarcoPruden Buildings since Firoz “King” Husein, P.E., founded the company just over 13 years ago.
“The first year in business our goal was to do $1 million in total construction and we finished with $2.5 million volume. This gave us a good foundation to build on,” remembers King, whose company has also been profiled in the August 1991 and August 1992 editions of Metal Construction News. “We kept the momentum going by increasing our volume steadily every year, highlighted by accelerated growth at frequent intervals when we would build a large project or two during a particular year.”
Large projects have become a forte’ of SPAN through the years, as illustrated by the mammoth 1,000,500 sq. ft. Sears Distribution Center in Delano, CA, which was completed in 1992. The $40 million facility serves 146 Sears stores from Alaska to Hawaii. Meanwhile, another huge project – the 675,000 sq. ft. Payless Distribution Center in Ogden, UT was started last year and is now 95% complete.
Sincere letters of appreciation from a wide range of customers demonstrate SPAN’s ability to satisfy its clients’ construction needs; often times, as the correspondences indicate, beyond the client’s expectations.
King explained that one key to a satisfied customer is following a fundamental principle. “We pay a lot of attention to detail,” he said. “It is always easy to take care of the big items on a project, but taking care of the small details can often make the difference between an average project or a successful project.”
A Quick Assessment of SPAN
Span Construction & Engineering operates from a 5,000 sq. ft. office and 20,000 sq. ft. shop in Madera. The company currently has 90 employees, including five project managers, seven constriction superintendents, four draftsmen, two engineers, four salesmen/estimators, numerous construction workers and a director of safety.
“Safety and training are important elements in our business,” King said of the recently-created position. “? have a full- time director of safety on our staff who implements our safety program; orientation of new employees; drug, alcohol and physical fitness testing; and jobsite inspections. This is now a continuous process.”
Due to local economic conditions SPAN’s geographic reach has extended to projects in Connecticut, Wisconsin, New York, Kansas, Texas, Idaho, Washington, Oregon and Utah. Work is also being done in Canada and SPAN assisted in completing a glass plant in India last year, although that project had nothing to do with King being from India.
SPAN limits travel outside of its immediate geographical area of Central California to negotiated projects involving companies with whom SPAN has a good relationship.
In assessing a company like SPAN, one is often tempted to try to enumerate the reasons for the company’s success. One of the biggest reasons is that King, himself, is not obsessed with traditional notions of success. He says that he has never worried about being the biggest, being “number one”, building the most projects or even making the most money. King simply sees SPAN’s successes as benefits derive from a set of values that the company follows. King said his motivations are: “reaching our highest potential by taking advantage of the opportunities; enjoying the work; caring for employees and their families who depend on this company; giving employees the opportunity to develop in the company; and the challenge of stretching the boundaries of the systems approach by applying the system to bigger and more complex projects.”
By following those precepts, SPAN has elevated its business to a level which is not common in the industry. King explained, “We do not deviate from practicing the basic principles that guide us, which are: keeping our commitments, being honest in our dealings, providing the best quality, providing excellent service, and fair pricing which denotes value.
“Our emphasis on professionalism is very strong. We do not want to project the image of a typical contractor which is not high with the general public. We strive to do the best job on all projects. This means organizing the right team to plan and execute each project. We really practice this in our daily operations.”
In addition to praising the contributions of all SPAN’s employees, King is quick to credit the relationship that has developed with VarcoPruden Buildings.
“Varco-Pruden is a key member of our team,” he noted. “Our relationship with Varco-Pruden is not a typical manufacturer-builder relationship. We value our relationship with their district manager, division general manager, national accounts manager, president and other key personnel.”
SPAN utilizes computers for all of its accounting functions, estimating and project scheduling. “VP Command (Varco-Pruden’s state-of-theart computer system for builders) is the latest powerful tool we use in our business,” King continued. “This enables us to design and estimate steel building projects utilizing all the resources of Varco-Pruden. We will be integrating the VP Command system with other internal functions in the near future.”
SPAN purchases all of its steel buildings from Varco-Pruden, as it has since King founded the company. Many industry people naturally assume that a company of SPAN’s size might also rollform its own panels, however, King said that SPAN only fabricates miscellaneous items in its shop.
As was noted in the previous articles on SPAN and illustrated in the accompanying photos, tilt-up concrete wall systems are common on SPAN’s projects. “Tilt-Plus construction continues to be an important segment of our business. We have been using this system ve1y successfully on many projects.” King added, “In addition to Tilt-Plus, all of our roof insulation is mechanically installed which improves the quality of the finished product. Even though this is a more expensive system, we feel that the improved quality is worth the additional cost.”
To further its commitment to quality. SPAN conducts regular checks of the company’s practices. ‘We conduct weekly coordination meetings.” King said. “This format allows us to receive input from our management team on all the projects. In this meeting we discuss all the aspects of a project.”
“Quality is not compromised at any cost. We continue to improve the application techniques in the field and once ·a technique is improved, we implement it on all projects. Often there is a cost associated with quality improvements, but this is what differentiates us from other companies.
A Bright Future
At presstime. SPAN had 14 projects under construction and another five that are under contract but not yet started. The company also has an exclusive agreement for the steel buildings on all Costco Wholesale projects, for whom SPAN has already completed several facilities.
“SPAN has stayed focused on the metal building business and we have resisted the invitations to venture into other areas of construction, King said. “We have not been good at setting long term goals. Our basic philosophy is to get our share of the business and do the best job with it. If this requires traveling outside of California. we have managed to do it successfully.
Even though SPAN is currently operating at record setting levels. future growth is not out of the question.
“With our present organization we have the capacity to handle a larger volume of work than we currently are,” King concluded. “We would like to increase our volume each year only if we can maintain total control of our growth. ‘