For the 12th year in a row, Span Construction & Engineering Inc. of Madera, CA, has earned the honor of being named Metal Construction News’ Top Metal Builder for 2001. “It is a rare privilege to receive the Top Metal Builder honor for the 12th consecutive year,” stated King Husein, president of Span Construction. “We never take it for granted and it is always challenging to maintain the lead.”
Consistency has been the leading factor in maintaining the company’s success-consistency in its basic principles. According to Husein, these principles are unparalleled service, best quality, fair pricing and a meaningful safety program. This safety and training program is constantly expanding to include the most up-to-date information. It provides hands-on training in all critical aspects of the steel business, including special roof conditions. A special emphasis is placed on increasing efficiency through a reduction in man-hours.
Dave Gilchrist, president/CEO of VP Buildings, the manufacturer whom Span has been affiliated with since being founded in 1980, has his own theory on why the contractor has maintained this high level of success. “I would have a hard time finding anyone who has been as successful as King,” he said.
“There are 8,000 builders in this industry. If any of those 8,000 wanted to know what the secret is, I think King would tell them that the secret is establishing a very intimate relationship with a high-quality architect, specifically MulvannyG2 Architecture,” Gilchrist continued. (Located in Bellevue, WA, this architectural firm provides nearly half of Span’s business.)
While Span has a steady flow of projects, the contractor, as most other metal building contractors, had an especially challenging 2001. Span’s tonnage was down from 41,657 tons in 2000 to its still-remarkable 2001 tonnage of 32,518. “We had already experienced a slowdown in our business prior to the September 11th attack. After the attack, the business slowdown was significant,” explained Husein.
The Escalon Project
One of many bright spots for Span in 2001 was the completion of the new facility for Escalon Premier Brands, a division of Heinz USA, in Escalon, CA. Span Construction has completed several projects for Escalon over the last eight years. One such job included the demolition and reconstruction of a 50,000 sq. ft. tomato process facility while leaving most of the equipment in place and building an 18,000 sq. ft. addition to the facility with a cafeteria and restroom facilities. A 120,000 sq. ft. warehouse was also built. Those projects utilized metal building systems from VP Buildings. “Over the years, Span has consistently provided Escalon Premier Brands with a quality product and good service,” said Scott Adrian, operations manager, Escalon Premier Brands.
Span has also had a standing relationship with Heinz USA for almost 15 years.
As all of these projects were completed on time and within budget, Escalon Premier Brands knew exactly who should build its new warehouses and offices. Leland McPherrin, manager, engineering and maintenance for Escalon, said, “In my experience working with Span, they have not missed any critical deadline despite being handed some very aggressive schedules.”
This particular job consisted of a 90,000 sq. ft. warehouse, a 105,000 sq. ft. warehouse, a 1,000 sq. ft. human resource department office and a 7,520 sq. ft. corporate office. Escalon provided the basic floor plan for this design/build project. To determine the size of the warehouses, the company took into account the palletized product sizes combined with aisle widths, which determined the interior column spacing. Span finalized the plans, incorporating the necessary building codes. It then generated a set of construction documents.
Ground was broken on the Escalon project in June 2000. Before erecting the VP Continuous Beam metal building systems, 10 acres of site work were developed and concrete pads were poured. All of this was done without disturbing the existing 42″ diameter irrigation piping that bisected a portion of the site. The piping had to remain in use until the end of the irrigation season on October 31, 2000. At that time it could be removed and replaced at a greater depth. Also, access had to remain open for 100 trucks loaded with tomatoes per day throughout the construction cycle.
The first building was completed in September 2000. It was the 294’8″ x 305’4″, 90,000 sq. ft. warehouse. Here, empty and full cans of the processed tomato products-labeled and palletized for the end user-are stored. VP’s Panel Rib wall panels and 24-gauge standing seam roof panels clad the exterior of the building.
The next building, the 344′ x 305’4″, 105,000 sq. ft. warehouse, was completed in November of the same year. It was clad with the same panels as the other warehouse. The small free-standing human resources office is located outside of this building.
Another Successful Project
The office portion was finished in April 2001 to the complete satisfaction of Escalon Premier Brands. According to McPherrin, “We have been extremely satisfied with the efforts of Span Construction at our facility. They have completed numerous successful projects for us over the past several years and our expectation is that they will come through with anything we give them.”
This project was also successful from the subcontractors’ point of view. Following are some comments from the various subcontractors.
Greg Nelson, vice president of Mike Nelson Co. Inc. in Fresno, CA, a drywall, steel framing, acoustical ceiling, insulation and Marlite subcontractor, said, “Span’s willingness to involve the subcontractors in scheduling and organization of the projects is a necessity for a successful project. We look forward to our continued success with Span for many years to come.”
Bockman & Woody Electric Co. Inc., Stockton, CA, has worked with Span on several of the Escalon Premier Brands projects, including this one. “Span’s ability to create and implement a construction schedule that flows from start to finish is critical to our success on a job,” stated Gary Woody, president and CEO of Bockmon & Woody. “Allowing the contractors to begin, continue and complete their scope in one mobilization promotes an efficient project.”
“As with any venture, quality personnel make the difference,” said Greg Carpenter of Greg Carpenter Concrete Inc., Lodi, CA. “We have found the Span staff members associated with this project to be very knowledgeable and capable in their tasks, greatly contributing to the smooth flow and quality of the project.”
Commented Mark Carmicheal, vice president, Clovis Madera Equipment Inc. of Fresno, “We have been working with Span since the early 1980s, and consider it a privilege to be part of the Span team. This is the second major project at the Escalon Premier Brands site that we have worked on for Span. Added to the usual problems in construction of weather and plan changes, the existing Escalon Premier Brands plant was open and in full operation. Span’s team was able to execute the proper scheduling with the plant and all of the subcontractors to keep the project running smoothly, and on time.”
“I have enjoyed my working relationship with Span Construction because of their attention to detail and their scheduling,” stated Bob Jones of Bob Jones Painting in Madera. “They have always adhered to their schedule as planned which, for myself as a contractor, allows me to plan other jobs around their work. Span enforces a very strict safety program which means a safer work environment for my employees. I have enjoyed many years working for Span Construction and hope to do so in the future.”
Sahargun Plumbing Inc. in Stockton has had a positive working relationship with Span since 1990. Debbie Chapman, CFO of Sahargun, said, “Span Construction & Engineering Inc. is the type of general contracting firm that we enjoy working with because of their professional business ethics.”
With a ready supply of satisfied subcontractors, Span Construction will be able to produce successful projects for many years into the future.