‘Standard’ is actually a cut above competition for Kansas City architectural firm
One of the few things actually “standard” about this company is an attention to detail and a can-do attitude when it comes to tough projects.
Standard Sheet Metal recently completed installing zinc panels on walkway roofs that connect several buildings, along with pre-finished metal roofing on other buildings at the Kansas Speedway. The company also provided the roofing and guttering for four of the infield buildings. “This business is never the same,” said company president Greg Ryder. “You’re always doing something different, and when you’re done with it you get to see the results. It’s not like ductwork where they cover it all up.”
Standard’s employees got to see their handiwork first-hand on national television the last weekend of September when lead-footed Jeff Gordon took the flag as Winston Cup champion in the first running of the NASCAR Protection 400 race.
Billed as “the track that will blow you away!” the Speedway’s infield buildings include four garage-maintenance buildings, two fuel-inspection stations, one tire-distribution building, and several infield rest rooms. The construction process includes roll-forming curved standing-seam metal panels of custom-color steel to custom fit the contour of the barreled roofs.
Other work entailed the vertical metal siding on the walls with all the various metal flashings, gutter and downspouts to match.
A $5.5 million company with more than 50 full time employees, Standard’s work is about 50% architectural metal. Another 30% is industrial, and 20% is manufacturing. As a result of its success, the company is considering expansion plans for its present 32,000-sq.-ft. facility.
Fresh from a two-week long hunting vacation in Canada, Ryder recalls, “When we first opened in 1979, I looked inside our 50X100 foot building and thought, ‘How are we ever going to fill that?’ Well, we added on in 1983 and then again in 1993 to where we are now.” The family was originally in the insulation business before concentrating on sheet metal.
The 17-year-old company is owned by three family members: Greg, Mike and Linda Ryder.
Museum was first high-profile jobIn 1994, the company got some important visibility from its work on the roof of the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art and Design in Kansas City. “We were doing small projects when we put in a bid to do the work on the museum,” Ryder recalls. “The contractor told me that if we did the work we’d have to do it over and over until it was done right. But we knew we could do it.”
The museum’s stainless steel roof, made up of 7,000 individually installed panels, was designed as a hybrid project with a single look, dull-soft finish. “The museum was our first high-profile architectural job,” Ryder said. “We proved ourselves and showcased the quality workmanship we’ve since become known for.” Architect Gunnar Birkert’s dynamic visual presentation of this modern art museum required thousands of manhours to interlock the panels together.
Since that time, SSM has handled roof detail at other prominent locations such as the American Century Towers, The Woodlands, Argosy Casino, Station Casino, Hope House, First Christian Church of Martin City, and Gardner-Edgerton High School.
The process begins when sheet metal is trucked to Standard Sheet Metal from suppliers across the United States, generally in the form of 4X10 flat sheets. Other sizes can be special ordered. The same raw product can be ordered in a wide range of thickness and colors such as blue, orange and red. Sheet metal is versatile enough to be made of copper and stainless steel, and it can be painted, lacquered and galvanized.
“We’re known for our specialty work and attention to detail,” said Mike Ryder, an architect with George Butler & Associates and silent partner at Standard. “We’re targeting more architectural-type projects with built-in visibility and profitability factors.”
Adds Linda Ryder, office manager and comptroller: “From a financial standpoint, versatility has been beneficial to our bottom line. If, for example, the architectural side of the business slows down, we can concentrate on the industrial and manufacturing sectors. Being able to keep our options open provides us with a huge advantage, and results in higher revenues.”
Greg Ryder said he believes more architectural metal and metal roofing is being specified today because of its longevity: “There is no water penetration if it’s done right, and you don’t have that constant maintenance.”
Standard Sheet Metal has also garnered a significant portion of the architectural sheet metal work underway at the Sprint World Headquarters in Overland Park, Kansas. That work started with the pre-finished, standing-seam mansard (a roof having two slopes on all four sides) roof panels that crown the brick structures. This section is made with pre-finished roof panels, copings, and roof-related flashing.
Canopies and walkway roofsOn the lower canopy and walkway roofs, along with the rain-drainage systems, the material of choice is a zinc copper titanium alloy sheet metal manufactured in Germany by Rheinzink. In its factory pre-weathered form, this material offers an attractive blue-gray coloring.
Standard also provided various ornamental sheet metal profiles and materials such as stainless steel enclosures for security card readers, commercial bronze trim at the water wall, and many of the stainless steel toilet partitions.
Equipment-wise, the company has two 175-ton Cincinnati CNC press brakes, a 90 ton Cincinnati CNC press brake; a 12-ft.X1/4-in. shear, a 10-ft.X1/4-in. shear (both shears are Cincinnati); two Roundo 8-ft. and 5-ft. plate rollers capable of rolling up to 1-in. plate; a Vulcan CNC plasma cutting table capable of cutting 11⁄2-in. plate; a GEKA 110-ton iron worker punch; and various other forming and punching machines.
At the Speedway, the company found an innovative way to get the work done faster: they mounted a Berridge rollformer onto a scissors lift and moved it up to rooftop level to manufacture the panels right where they were needed.
Other exterior architectural sheet metal projects for Standard include awnings, canopies, cornices, coping, curbs, decking, edging, downspouts, flashings, finials, fascia, siding, soffits, etc.
Interior architectural sheet metal includes ceilings, column and corner covers, decorative hoods, fire curtains, partitions and more.
Industrial sheet metal includes air chamber panels, access doors, bag houses, belt and chain guards, louvers, ovens, paint booths, power ventilators, screens and stacks.
As part of its manufacturing operation, Standard can fabricate the smallest, most intricate parts for computers to 180-in. dia. cyclones for massive dust collection systems. Even ductwork comes in a wide variety of end uses: such as the 10-ga. fittings it made as part of a product conveying system which required a ceramic impregnated urethane liner to extend their usable life.
For the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art and Design, Standard assembled over 7,000 stainless steel roof panels atop a one-story concrete, glass and steel structure. The panels, designed with a shingle-look, dull-soft finish, provide the Museum with its aesthetic appeal. A secondary self-adhering, self-healing membrane also was installed on the substructure of the roof.
The scope of work (exterior and interior) performed at the site included:
- Fabricating and installing a flat seam roof and wall panels with trim.
- Built-in gutters.
- Thru-wall scuppers incorporated into gutter system.
- Flat-seam fascia panels, flush-seam vertical wall panels.
- Flat-roof coping, flashings and counter-flashings, roof hatches.
Ryder said a company wide drug testing program is mandatory, as are safety programs. “This mind set,” he said, “has helped transform Standard Sheet Metal into the Kansas City shop where fathers place their sons to learn the sheet metal business.”
The company is a member of SMACNA; its union employees are members of SMWIA Local #2. “Our employee turnover is low because of a good working environment,” Ryder said. “Plus, when you combine our salary and benefits package, workers are looking at $35-$40 per hour.
“We’re spending less overhead to get more work, getting about 30% of the projects on our target list,” Ryder added. “The bottom line is that we’ve outgrown and outperformed our industry competitors over the past five years. We’re looking forward to a profitable future in Kansas City, then moving into the national arena.”
While the local economy has slowed down, Ryder said he expects it to pick back up again next year. There is the possibility of a large Disney project coming to the area, and he would welcome the opportunity for Standard to be a part of it.