Over the years at Metal Construction News, we have seen the results of hundreds of companies build-ing millions of sq. ft. of metal building projects and purchasing hundreds of thousands of tons of steel. But one company comes to mind over any other when it comes to the Top Metal Builder. Span Construction & Engineering, Madera, CA, has received top honors from MCN for 16 of the last 17 years, and last year, it completed 9,450,180 sq. ft. of metal building projects and purchased 37,440 tons of steel to again be named MCN’s Top Metal Builder for 2006.
The company has over 460 employees, including seven project developers, 11 project mangers, 20 superintendents, five management staff, 60 support staff, nine designers and over 350 field crew who serve mar-kets in North America, Europe and Asia. Roughly 80% of its business is design/build and the other 20% bid/spec. An over-whelming majority, 90% of Span’s projects, are considered commercial/industrial and another 10% are self-storage. With many well-known clients, it’s no surprise that 80% of its business is repeat customers and 20% from referrals. Span has been affiliated with Butler Manufacturing for three years and ranks number one in its builder network.
To receive Top Builder honors, Span’s metal building project square footage and tonnage of steel purchased were both record amounts. For such an achievement, it is easy to assume the company and its employees have a lot of experience and training. Span Construction has both knowledgeable executives and staff, as well as Span University, which provides hands-on and textbook worker and safety training.
As president of Span, King Husein, P.E., has an extensive back-ground in engineering and metal construction. Husein received his Bachelor’s Degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Bombay, India, and his Master’s Degree in Civil Engineering with a major in Structural Engineering from Brigham Young University, Provo, UT.
“I was very much interested in the prac-tical application of my engineering work and visiting the construction sites further sparked my interest,” explained Husein. After graduating from BYU, he started to work as a design engineer for Priggen Steel Buildings Co., near Boston, MA. Priggen was later acquired by Varco-Pruden Buildings. In 1980, he founded Span Construction & Engineering in Madera, CA.
Keith Harris was the first employee hired by Husein to work as a draftsman. He has been with the company for almost 27 years and is currently serving as vice president, sales and marketing.
“Being the leader in our indus-try is good, but we need to stay focused on the core values that made Span what it is today,” said Harris. “These core values are honesty, integrity, service, quality, safety and competitiveness. Our goal to satisfy the client will keep us as one of the leaders.”
George Goddard has been with the company for 25 years and started as a steel building coordinator. He is currently the vice president, engineering and construction services.
“Span is in a unique position in the metal building industry,” Goddard explained. “Our volume buying power combined with our reputation for safety, integrity, quality, value and schedule will allow us to grow beyond our imagination.”
“During the last 16 years, I have experienced several changes and challenges in our business, however, Span has the unique ability to rise above these conditions and succeed,” said Doug Standing, controller.
Director of safety Dean Stroud recently joined the company, but had something to say about the company’s commitment to safety. “As a new employee, it is evident to me that Span has the capacity to take on any project in the metal building field and do it well and safely,” he noted. “The company is committed to provide the training necessary for all employees to work safely.”
Since safety is so important, the company developed Span University to provide classroom and hands-on training. “Training for employees, specifically field employees, is a wise investment,” said Husein. “They are trained in safety as well as in their trade.”
According to Husein, metal buildings are a specialized segment in the construction industry, so Span University’s training programs differ from other training programs.
“Although the primary steel framing erection may be somewhat similar to the single-story conventional steel framing system, it requires special training for workers to correctly install the standing seam roof system, SkyWeb fall protection system, insulation system, interior gutter, flashings, ridge cap and all the roof penetrations for mechanical units, sky-lights and other accessories. Therefore, we focus our training in these special areas,” he said.
But how did the idea for Span University come about? “Our industry does not meet the needs of the contractors to provide necessary training for workers to erect pre-engineered buildings,” he explained. “This required us to develop our own training program to meet the demands for our clients. Tom Walker, executive vice president of Costco Wholesale, and Jerry Lee, CEO of MulvannyG2 Architecture, were very instrumental in our decision to start Span University because of their continuous drive to improve quality and performance. They took the time to inspect carefully many of our projects, including walking on completed roofs and challenged us to improve quality to provide a longer warranty and reduce man-hours to reduce cost. We accepted the challenge and implemented the training program at Span University and made significant progress in both areas. Costco Wholesale is the only account that receives a 25-year weathertight warranty from Span.”
To bring the idea to reality, it required a commitment from management to make the investment. “We dedicated an area in a separate building where we constructed a full scale mock-up of a bay of the building consisting of the steel primary and secondary framing, SkyWeb fall protection, insulation and all special conditions,” said Husein.
Now, at Span University, students receive classroom instructions using erection manuals, blueprints, PowerPoint presentation and online tutorials. Training includes all phases of steel building erection including safety procedures. They also receive hands-on training on the mock-up sections and in the operation of erection equipment. Within the last two months, 70 employees were certified in the operation of equipment.
While experience and training are important to help a company succeed, it also helps the company make plans for the future. Span has 17 projects under construction or under con-tract to start soon. Husein said the company expects to increase its staff in the areas of project management, project support and field supervision. He said it will also be increasing office space within the next 12 months.
As for the future of the metal construction industry, he said he expects metal buildings to experience steady growth.
For now, the company is celebrating major milestones with one particular account. In November 2006, Costco opened its 500th warehouse in LaQuinta, CA. Through the end of 2006, Span had completed a total of 673 projects for Costco, accounting for 47 million sq. ft. of buildings. “We are anxiously looking for-ward to reaching another milestone within the next two or three months of 50 million sq. ft. with this account,” Husein noted.