SPAN & Metal Construction News Celebrate Their 40 Year Anniversaries


40 Years Ago, John Lawrence and his partner, Sam Milnark, created a magazine to build an industry, while King Husein was building a company to lead it.

The Rise of Metal Construction News

Forty years ago, John Lawrence joined with Sam Milnark to form Modern Trade Communications and began publishing Metal Building News (MBN). The magazine took off from the first issue, and over the last 40 years, thanks to Lawrence’s and Milnark’s foresight, it has been a leader in the industry.

Very early on, MBN established strong relationships with the Metal Building Manufacturers Association (MBMA) and the Metal Building Dealers Association (MBDA), which today is the Metal Building Contractors and Erectors Association (MBCEA). The two men saw the rise in importance of the metal component industry and changed the magazine name to Metal Construction News (MCN) in November 1984. In January 1985, they debuted its sister publication, Metal Architecture, taking the message of metal construction to the design industry. Later that decade, they created a product directory, which is now the Metal Directory and Resource Guide.

Lawrence and Milnark were instrumental in founding the Metal Construction Association (MCA) in 1983 and, through the pages of the magazine in both editorial and advertising, they promoted the industry tirelessly. Milnark passed away in 2003, but Lawrence carried on the legacy until his retirement from day-to-day operations in 2008. Both men are Metal Construction Hall of Fame honorees.

METAL CONSTRUCTION NEWS: Excerpt from ‘Interview with the Founder’ August 2020; By Paul Deffenbaugh

SPAN | Leading the Top Metal Builders year after year

Since the 1980s, Metal Construction News has honored the top metal construction contractors based on the tonnage of steel purchased in the previous year. The feature started with a ranking of the top metal contractors for the 1980s. It then became an annual event that identified the top 100 metal builders ranked according to total tonnage for both metal buildings and roofing. In 1993, those categories were split into annual listings of Top Metal Builders and Top Metal Roofers. Starting in 2004, the Top Metal Builders list was split into one for tonnage and one for square footage.

Throughout the years, Metal Construction News has seen the results of hundreds of companies building millions of square feet of steel building projects and purchasing hundreds of thousands of tons of steel. Despite heavy competition, SPAN has continued to top the charts in both square footage and tonnage. In fact, for the first 14 years of the Metal Construction News’ Top Metal Builders, SPAN took the top spot every single year. In the 30 years since MCN has been tracking the top metal builders annually, SPAN has held the top spot 24 times in both categories.

Which is why this year SPAN is so excited to share its own 40th year anniversary with Metal Construction News. King Husein (Metal Construction News Hall of Fame 2014 inductee) started SPAN in November 1979 by establishing it on a basic concept: Keep your commitments at any cost. At the end of his first year in business, Husein had purchased $1 million of steel from Varco Pruden Buildings. That was the start of a company that has currently built more than 187 million square feet of buildings on four continents, integrating SPAN field personnel with local crews on international projects. On Jan. 1, 2018, Husein sold the company to his employees, giving all eligible employees a financial interest in the success of the business.