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She company’s mission is clear: “To be a quality supplier and installer of building products to the self-storage, industrial and commercial markets,” says Chris Woodward, president and owner of SS-20 Building Systems Inc. The Bradenton, Fla.- based supplier believes business is earned by delivering outstanding quality and service on each and every job.
Woodward, who has 27 years of experience with metal buildings, has developed a pre-engineered, structural-steel building system for several industries, including self-storage. “We realized early on there had to be a better and faster way to build a multistory building for the self-storage market,” he says. Since its founding in 1995, the company has completed projects totaling millions of square feet throughout the United States.
Building With Beams ‘n’ Tubes
SS-20’s patented freestanding system is based on a 10-by-10-foot grid system of stackable tube columns. The revolutionary building design improves quality and shortens erection time, as once the first-floor design is complete, no additional layout is required—it is repeated for each subsequent floor. Here’s how it works:
In most cases, poured-in-place anchor bolts are not necessary, so the project begins with a clean slab. First-floor slabs are laid out and chalked for column locations, then drilled for wedge anchors. Columns are set on the slabs and the wedge anchors installed. The crew then sets the second-floor mezzanine beams as well as any necessary cross-bracing. Next, the exterior pour angle is installed, and the floor decking is laid. The columns extend through the deck to the finish elevation of the second floor, making it an easy pour for the masonry contractor. Once the second floor is poured, the crew installs the second-floor columns, which are simply dropped into the lower columns to a predetermined depth. Following completion of the final floor, the system accepts standard roof deck or purlins and a standing-seam roof system.
Since divider partitions are not required with the SS-20 system, floors are wide open for other trades to work, which speeds construction. Earlier completion means reduced financing charges and an earlier revenue stream, adding value to the project.
Steeling Against Tough Times
When choosing a building system for a client, SS-20 concentrates on the overall cost of construction, not just the cost of steel. However, the 2004 surge in steel prices impacted all U.S. metal builders. “Last year was the toughest we have ever had to endure,” says Woodward. Fortunately, because of the company’s relationship with its suppliers, it was able to manage the increase in price and decrease in availability. SS-20 purchased steel in advance to ensure orders were covered and customers would not be inconvenienced.
“Our customers would tell you SS-20 treated them very fairly during an extremely difficult time,” Woodward says. “Every single project we had on the books before the increase hit was honored and completed.”
Service Is the Key
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“Constructing the building is the easy part,” Woodward says. “The self-storage industry is growing at a rapid pace, and the biggest challenge is acquiring land for growth.” He adds that there are even areas trying to minimize self-storage expansion by making the permitting process longer and more expensive. In the end, the companies that will land the jobs are those that offer outstanding product and service.
Regardless of the positions for which they are hired, all new SS-20 employees begin in the field with project training, learning how important it is for a product to be delivered correctly and on time. One of the primary things they are taught is how to handle problems. “None of us is naive enough to think there are not going to sometimes be problems. What’s important is how we address them,” Woodward says. “If a problem is dealt with properly and in a timely fashion, the customer will not remember the issue but how quickly it was resolved.”
SS-20 customers build one to 12 projects a year. The company plans to grow at a reasonable rate so it can continue to deliver quality product with good service, Woodward says. “We are not interested in being the biggest; we are interested in being the best. Moderate growth allows you to take care of your customers and is rewarding to both parties.”
For more information, call 941.746.8170; visit www.ss20bldg.com.