Service Centers
Monday | 01 October, 2012 | 8:26 am

Shouldering the city

By Gretchen Salois

Reliability helps manufacturers construct skylines and roadways

September 2012 - The scenic southbound route on Chicago’s Lake Shore Drive segues from high-rise apartments to the illuminated neon pink sign adorning the iconic Drake Hotel. Driving further, travelers venture deeper into a city exuding a unique charm amid the broad slates of concrete and steel structures. The competition is fierce as companies compete for contracts to make their mark on the city’s skyline and roads.

“We need an aggressive mentality from our suppliers because we’re not going to lose a job. We will do whatever it takes,” says Jason Schroeder, buyer at McCann Industries Inc., headquartered in Addison, Ill. The company has supplied materials for recent additions to the ever-changing Chicago skyline, including buildings such as Trump International Hotel and Tower. McCann also has played a part in much of the infrastructure around Chicago and throughout Illinois. The company has shipped paving materials to jobs including O’Hare International Airport, Wacker Drive and U.S. Route 41 on the city’s South Side.

To meet the excessive and timely demand that comes with the job, McCann turns to Metal Partners Rebar, a national rebar distributor and fabricator headquartered in Naperville, Ill.

“I would say Metal Partners Rebar does 90 percent of the fabricated items we sell,” Schroeder says. McCann often needs an “ungodly amount of product,” including straight lengths, bent bars, curb bars, tie bars and dowel bars in “all shapes and sizes,” Schroeder adds, noting the company uses rebar sizes ranging from No. 3 through No. 10.

Schroeder says competitive prices are only one factor in a long line of requirements when working in the construction industry. Reliability and quick responses from Metal Partners Rebar allows McCann to improve its lead times with contractors.

“It’s efficient for us to use Metal Partners Rebar for our stock materials,” Schroeder says. “That frees up our guys to do small emergency orders that we wouldn’t be able to get to otherwise. We usually only have one guy working on fabrication orders so we wouldn’t be able to take on those large turnaround orders either—he’d be huffing and puffing trying to cover it all.”

Metal Partners Rebar distributes rebar in truckload quantities and offers value-added products, such as epoxy-coated rebar, dowel bars and fabricated steel. “We carry products other service centers may have difficulty having in stock,” says Frank Bergren, managing director at Metal Partners Rebar. “Most service centers will require smaller quantities of rebar as opposed to truckloads. It’s easy for them to either drop in and pick up at one of the multiple stocking locations or [for] us to drop it off.”

Steadfast supplier

Serving the commercial and highway market throughout the Midwest, Logan Contractors Supply Inc., Des Moines, Iowa, needed a reliable supplier to meet an upswing in demand. Logan Contractors has a large fabrication facility and cuts and bends bar, including a lot of footing steel for commercial and agricultural work. The company continuously purchases rebar, black and epoxy-coated and dowel bars, smooth rounds, black and epoxy-coated.

Jeff Logan, vice president of Logan Contractors Supply, says Metal Partners Rebar’s versatility allows the company to meet last-minute orders for stock that is not readily on hand at most service centers. “I recently had several last-minute orders with Metal Partners Rebar because we were so busy fabricating our own materials,” Logan says. “We were able to combine products onto a truck—a little bit of this and a little bit of that—exactly the amounts we needed.

“We’re getting larger orders where we find ourselves running out of product,” Logan continues. “It’s happening more frequently, [which is] not a bad thing.” Logan adds Metal Partners Rebar has a well-supplied, diversified stock of products, “which doesn’t always happen in this industry.”

Logan Contractors Supply can order one truckload with three different products on board from Metal Partners Rebar, whereas another service center might require customers to purchase three separate truckloads of those products in bulk. “I’m comfortable knowing they have a good supply in stock, and it helps them meet the ever-changing and growing demand of customers,” Logan says, adding it is important his company has a go-to solution for short lead-time orders.

“Flexibility is a big factor for us when it comes to orders where we only need to supplement what we already have,” Logan adds. “We can’t always cut the rebar or dowel bars ourselves in the time frame our customer needs. Metal Partners Rebar can get it done, which helps immensely.”

Real-time relief

Metal Partners Rebar indirectly supplies steel for Department of Transportation work, including dowel bars and rebar. “When you’re driving down a concrete highway and hear the thump, that’s the shock absorbers from dowel bars,” Bergren explains. “We do the wholesale, buy the black bar, get it epoxy coated, cut it in lengths, order to customer specifications and sell truckload quantities to those who will sell it to DOT and various other industries.”

Demand differs from region to region throughout the country. “In the West Coast market, we could be supplying someone that is using rebar as starter stakes for wine vineyards. When you go to the Midwest market, we could be supplying rebar to someone building a hog slat,” Bergren continues. “When we got the Northeast market, we could be supplying rebar to a hotel in New York City. We try and be as unique and value-added as possible.”

Tolerances also are a factor when working with building requirements and specifications. McCann needs to be able to sell material that meets ASTM 615 and ASTM 706 requirements. Metal Partners Rebar provides proper documentation quickly upon request, which is important because it means the difference between getting paid and not.

For jobs that involve the Illinois Department of Transportation or Chicago Department of Transportation, Schroeder says contractors are required to provide documentation to the inspector in order to get paid. Recently, a customer needed proper certification for some dowels and the epoxy coating McCann had supplied for an airport in Schaumburg, Ill., says Logan. Instead of waiting hours or even days, Metal Partners Rebar sent the documents McCann needed within five minutes of the request, which is “pretty much unheard of,” Schroeder says.

The expedient response applies to more than paperwork. While working on U.S. Route 41 in Chicago, McCann’s customer needed 20,000 pounds of curb bars fabricated in five business days. “I found out Frank Bergren stayed late with some guys from the office in order to make sure we met that deadline,” Schroeder says. “A guy as high up on the totem pole as Frank was there cutting and bending—that shocked me. That goes to show the kind of service they provide.

“That’s one job we would never have been able to get out without them,” Schroeder continues. “They take really good care of us.” MM

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