Rapid Expansion in the Wire Mesh Business

Engineered Wire Products

engineeredwireproducts

Engineered Wire Products (EWP) headquartered in Upper Sandusky, Ohio, is a leading producer of welded wire reinforcement (WWR) for the cast in place and precast industries. In addition to its base in Upper Sandusky, EWP has facilities in Las Cruces, New Mexico and Warren, Ohio.
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WWR is produced in the form of rolls or sheets, and offers the advantage of high product strength of up to 80ksi. In many applications savings of 25 percent or more can be realized with WWR over conventional rebar by the elimination of over steeling and reduced labor costs. Time is money and product deadlines are more easily managed with WWR.

EWP’s Dallas-based parent company, Keystone Consolidated Industries (KCI), also owns and operates a steel melt mill, Keystone Steel and Wire (KSW), located in Peoria, Illinois. KSW produces American-made steel fabricated wire products, rebar, industrial wire and steel rods for industrial, agricultural and construction industries.

EWP was launched in 1969 by Price Brothers, establishing EWP as a vertically integrated entity to provide rolled mesh internally consumed for the production of precast concrete pipe. It wasn’t until 1983 when EWP began selling to other precasters in the market. KCI entered into a joint venture with EWP in 1994, acquiring the remaining interest in 1997.

“Our relationship with Keystone Steel and Wire (KSW) and vertical integration is extremely beneficial for EWP. As a melt mill, KSW’s raw material is scrap, processed into – among other products – billets and rod. EWP’s raw material is rod, which we then convert to wire and process into various rolled mesh, sheet mesh and other wire products,” explains Jeff Babcock, EWP’s Vice President of Sales & Engineering.

Beyond commercial benefits, being a part of KCI is advantageous, especially when it comes to Buy America requirements. “Sourcing most to all our rod with our sister company KSW, producing American-made steel rod of domestic origin, EWP maintains full compliance with Buy America requirements.” Producing mesh to ASTM, NTPEP and other industry standards, EWP is an approved supplier for Department of Transportation (DOT) projects.

Over the past few years EWP has grown considerably. “Having operated as a single location mesh producer since 1969, in 2014 EWP, through our parent company KCI, set out to expand. In July 2014 we acquired our Las Cruces, New Mexico facility, and in September 2014 our Warren, Ohio facility. In January 2015 we established an alliance with Canadian mesh producer Laurel Steel as an exclusive distributor for EWP in Canada. Growth and acquisition has positioned EWP to be a major player in the U.S. and Canadian markets,” states Babcock.

For 47 years EWP has earned a reputation for providing the highest level of customer support and the most responsive shipping in the industry. Fast production turnaround along with one of the largest inventories in the industry assures its customers of reinforcing when they need it.

Babcock describes EWP’s culture as a team atmosphere, a collaborative approach. “No one ever calls out a title or says, ‘that’s not my job.’ When there’s a problem to solve, the entire group rolls up their sleeves. We get it done.” EWP maintains tremendous inventory with the various mesh styles produced. It’s not uncommon for a customer to call at 4:30 or 5:00pm, and depending on how far away they are located, they could have their product first thing in the morning.

The team approach is reflected in the traits EWP looks for in potential employees. “We want people who not only bring considerable experience and commitment to customer service but truly embrace the concept of team approach,” affirms Babcock.

EWP has a breadth of experience in its sales and engineering group; the average member has over 20 years of experience in the industry. “I truly feel we have the best sales and engineering team in the industry. As a company culture we certainly support promoting from within, and have instances of team members who started their career on the manufacturing side working 15 to 25 years in the plant. Our customers benefit from this experience as they become key members of our sales and engineering team. It’s a great mix of backgrounds and talents,” says Babcock.

Engineered Wire Products is very much a service-driven company, and truly strives to exceed customer expectations in both the Precast and Cast in Place (CIP) industries. “Precast is the process of producing concrete products and structures in a facility and delivering to a site, while cast in place is casting the concrete product or structure on site,” explains Babcock. EWP’s cast-in-place clients include construction supply houses and value-added engineering suppliers. While construction supply houses have brick and mortar facilities, value-added engineering suppliers focus on highly technical conversion applications of rebar to mesh and the supply of required structural reinforcing materials.

EWP produces both roll and structural flat mesh used to reinforce precast concrete components, primarily in applications such as concrete pipe and manholes, box culverts, structures, tunnels, and bridges.

With EWP customers being precasters, supply houses, and value-added engineering suppliers, its customers are mostly comprised of contractors and governmental entities.

Whether precast or cast in place, Babcock makes clear, “in any of our models, we do not sell to contractors. In the precast industry EWP supports our precast producers and with Cast in Place we follow the distribution chain. Cast in Place structural mesh is often a viable replacement for rebar in commercial building foundations, slabs, mezzanines, and tilt-up panels, as well as highways, driveways and sidewalks for the lightest material,” adds Babcock.

“Whereas projects requiring reinforcing for concrete are often specified with rebar, EWP provides our precast and supply house customers technical support with engineering services of converting rebar designs to structural mesh. In most cases our customers are able to realize substantial savings with labor and placement costs when using structural mesh,” states Babcock.

The majority of precast products for which EWP supplies mesh address underground structural and storm water drainage requirements for governmental, municipal or DOT projects. With development of a subdivision, a drainage infrastructure must first be installed. When an airport is built, drainage is required for the runway. When a roadway is rebuilt, the drainage underneath possibly requires upgrading.

EWP mesh is also used in median barriers and sound walls along highways, and in projects involving mechanically stabilized earth (MSE) such as retaining walls and bridge abutments. In addition to mesh, the company also provides other reinforcing products to include smooth and deformed wire, straight cut, along with value added to include bending, shearing, and specialty fabrication.

“EWP reinforcing mesh has been used on a wide variety of projects to include infrastructure development, airports, stadiums, high rises, and even nuclear facilities. A KCI company produces encasement containers for nuclear waste, vertically integrated EWP has provided structural mesh reinforcing for the canisters,” Babcock states.

EWP remains an innovator in the industry, striving to bring new product offerings to market. In 2015, the company introduced a patented improved design Shear Steel Stirrup reinforcing product addressing shear forces in concrete pipe and box culvert.

“At Engineered Wire Products… our ‘exceeds expectations approach’ doesn’t stop at the production and supply of material. We have a high level of technical expertise and presence in the industry with our sales and engineering staff, including professional engineers on staff. We are extremely participative with industry associations and technical committees, holding a substantial number of committee positions,” states Babcock.

On August 5, 2016 KCI announced having acquired Strand Tech Martin (STM), a Summerville South Carolina-based company which produces precast (PC) prestressed strand. Prestressed concrete strand is a high carbon steel wire that reinforces prestressed concrete structures. STM also produces post tension strand along with high carbon wire products. “EWP is excited about the KCI acquisition of STM, which allows the KCI group of companies another step toward full product line sourcing to the markets and customer base we support,” notes Babcock.

“Regarding future growth, we’re hopeful to see positive infrastructure legislation to support our highways and increase infrastructure spending at both the Federal and State levels,” says Babcock. “Internally our focus will always remain progressive as we continue to promote the benefits with conversion of rebar to WWR in precast and cast in place applications.”

Building the Next Generation

As thousands of experienced workers retire across North America every day, it is small wonder many industries are concerned about the future. It has been a decade since the oldest members of the baby boom generation started leaving their jobs, removing from the workplace decades of experience and skills that are tough to replace. The situation is so dire that, when younger workers are not available or knowledgeable enough to take over, retired staffers are often called back to work on a part-time basis.

November 14, 2019, 5:54 AM EST