In the months leading up to the creation of Ideal Steel LLC – a manufacturer of pre-engineered metal buildings and components located in Broussard, La., that began operations in August 2003 – another local manufacturer was failing. People were either quitting or being laid off, and when the partners who would form Ideal Steel got together to start their own company, they seized and opportunity.
This building for Cudd Energy Services located in Broussard, LA, was delivered by Ideal Steel in May. The office space is approximately 8,600 square feet and the remaining five buildings, which include the manufacturing and storage space, are approximately 55,500 square feet.
“When we got started we had a very experienced team,” said Mike Becnel, principal partner-business development. “People with 20-plus years’ experience—an all star team; people who lost their jobs and wanted to get back into the business.”
Five years later, the company has grown from an initial group of about 15 hires into an operation with just under 100 employees. The four partners—John Tolson IV, president; Gene Rodrigue, principal partner-manufacturing; Chad Fleming, principal partner-sales; and Becnel—took the input of their highly trained, experienced employees from the start to make the company as efficient as possible.
Ideal Steel has also been able to take advantage of government incentives to help jump start business. Metal Construction News asked three of the partners, who have lunch together every day to discuss potential improvements (the fourth partner, Fleming, works out of Jacksonville, Fla.), about these incentives, the company’s philosophy for doing business and how they stay involved in the community.
Without question, our most valuable asset is the quality, class and integrity of our entire staff. We strive to employ only the best, most qualified staff members who care for each customer, one at a time. Every customer, every building, every component order. They are all important to our continued growth plan and the future success of Ideal Steel.
Metal Construction News: What do you believe makes Ideal Steel unique in its industry?
Rodrigue: The Ideal Steel team is made up of highly experienced industry veterans, who are dedicated to providing high-quality products and superior customer service. Ideal Steel has the capability and capacity to supply all our customers’ needs for preengineered steel buildings and components and is also committed to knowing each of our customers personally and addressing their specific needs. This combination of a true commitment to customer service and a consistent focus on product development and quality is what Ideal Steel is all about.
Ideal Steel designed its own facility, which the company has been in since 2006. The entire facility is over 110,000 square feet.
Metal Construction News: What types of buildings/projects does Ideal Steel generally work on?
Becnel: Ideal Steel has the capability to design and create custom buildings and steel components using mass-customization techniques for the commercial, industrial, retail and agricultural markets. We have manufactured everything from small retail outlets to large manufacturing facilites: from schools and churches to agriculture storage buildings and barns; from large commercial aircraft hanars to climate controlled mini-storage buildings. We are capable of designing, detailing and manufacturing an entire range of custom metal buildings.
Metal Construction News: Do you work directly with architects and end users?
Becnel: We’ll sit down with the end user [to make sure they’re getting what they want]. We work with architects all the time. A lot of architects don’t know metal buildings. A metal building manufacturer knows easier or better ways to get it done. We use our experience to really help the architect.
This large facility in Broussard, LA, for oil services company Weatherford International is over 100,000 square feet. It was delivered by Ideal Steel in Jan 2006.
Metal Construction News: How has Ideal Steel grown as a company? You’ve taken particular advantage of some government programs in this regard, how has that worked?
Rodrigue: Ideal Steel’s success is the result of dedicated employees who deal with customers and vendors with integrity and respect. Since the beginning, the commitment to deliver what is promised has been embraced by all employees and appreciated by both customers and suppliers. The business relationships that have developed are based on the same basic concepts of trust. These relationships have been building blocks for Ideal Steel’s growth.
Becnel: Ideal Steel has been able to take advantage of several state tax incentives programs. We have been able to reduce our property taxes, sales taxes and take advantage of employee tax credits since 2003. In addition to these incentives the GO Zone accelerated depreciation [legislation from the U.S. government to help businesses in regions affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita] has enabled Ideal Steel to grow and expand.
Metal Construction News: Does Ideal Steel have an overriding business philosophy it tries to abide by?
Tolson: Without question, our most valuable asset is the quality, class and integrity of our entire staff. We strive to employ only the best, most qualified staff members who care for each customer, one at a time. Every customer, every building, every component order. They are all important to our continued growth plan and the future success of Ideal Steel.
Metal Construction News: Ideal Steel was selected as a 2008 Lantern Award winner for its commitment to community contribution, employee growth and facility expansion. The Lantern Awards are presented annually to companies and organizations that demonstrate the advancement of Louisiana’s master plan for economic development—Louisiana: Vision 2020. Its goal is by 2020 Louisiana will be a state with a vibrant, balanced economy; a fully engaged, well-educated workforce; and a quality of life that places it among the top 10 states in the country in which to live, work, visit and do business. “Ideal Steel is helping make that vision a reality,” stated Stephen Moret, secretary for the Louisiana Economic Development Authority. Why does Ideal Steel believe it’s important to be involved in the community? How does that help you as a company?
Becnel: You get more recognized in the community, whether it be supporting local schools or donating covers or canopies to local churches. We [know] a gentleman in a wheelchair who got soaking wet every time he got out of his van, and we just donated a canopy. We do a lot of local sporting events. We’re visible. We’ll put up a recreational tent at a local chili cook off. We might develop a lead that way.
Metal Construction News: How does internal communication work at the company?
Becnel: We have no middle managers. The four principal partners manage the entire company. There are no indirect reports. That’s very unique in a company our size. Believe me, if there’s a lack of communication, the buck stops here, it goes all the way to the ownership of the company.
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