A Wire Mesh Producer Broadens Its Reach

Engineered Wire Products

Engineered Wire Products (EWP) of Upper Sandusky, Ohio is a fast-growing mesh producer that we first profiled last year in Construction in Focus. EWP produces welded wire reinforcement (WWR) for the precast (PC) and cast in place (CIP) concrete industries, with reinforcing products utilized in a wide variety of construction, infrastructure, industrial, agricultural and transportation projects. The company has spent the past year focusing on opportunities and growth, especially with recently acquired Las Cruces, NM and Warren, OH facilities.
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“We are expanding our geographical footprint and participation in the Cast in Place sector,” says Jeff Babcock, Vice-President of Sales and Engineering at Engineered Wire Products. EWP’s CIP market is primarily North America, through a distribution chain model to supply houses, value engineered entities and rebar fabricators, he adds.

Since last year, EWP has also expanded its customer base in the precast and prestressed industries. EWP’s precast WWR products (often referred to as Mesh) include precast rolled mesh (which are used in manholes), pipe rolled mesh (used in reinforced concrete pipe or RCP), structural precast mesh sheets (used in box culverts, tunnels, bridge applications and girder mesh) and more. Other EWP precast mesh products are used in bridge abutments, barrier rail and retaining walls. Many of EWP’s precast products are used in underground structures designed to drain storm water.

The company’s CIP participation focuses on benefits with conversion of rebar to welded wire reinforcement, incorporating designs of higher steel strength reducing amount of steel required. WWR or structural mesh can offer substantial placement labor savings as opposed to the requirement to tie rebar. CIP applications of WWR structural sheets include concrete slabs, mezzanines, foundations, tilt-up, highways, and other concrete applications where reinforcing is required.

EWP can produce rolled mesh from W1.75 to W12.8 wire sizes, in 2, 3, 4 flex wire and plain mesh styles. Structural sheet capabilities for precast and CIP range from W2.1 to D31 with lengths up to 53’. Wire is available from W1.75 to D31. EWP can also weld most grades of standard rebar up to #6 bar into mat configurations.

EWP was launched in 1969 by Price Brothers as a vertically integrated entity focused on providing rolled mesh for reinforcing of concrete pipe. In 1994 EWP entered into a joint venture with Keystone Consolidated Industries, Inc. (KCI), and the remaining interest was acquired in 1997. KCI produces American-made steel products across a group of KCI companies to include steel wire rod, coiled rebar, industrial wire, steel fabricated products (Keystone Steel and Wire), PC/PT strand (Strand Tech Manufacturing), and merchant or specialty bar products (Keystone Bar Products). EWP’s full product line includes structural sheet and rolled Mesh, building mesh, wire, straight-cut and shear steel Stirrup reinforcing. KCI was founded in 1889 and is based in Dallas, Texas. The company is a subsidiary of Contran Corporation.

Having KCI as a parent company is hugely beneficial for EWP, says Babcock. For a start, the relationship affords EWP an “assuredness of steel.” EWP sources its rod from Keystone Steel and Wire (KSW), a KCI-operated steel melt-mill based in Peoria, Illinois. EWP takes this rod and turns it into wire which is then processed into various mesh products. “Integration with sister company domestic mill Keystone Steel and Wire (KSW) for sourcing of rod is highly beneficial for EWP, and allows us to be well-positioned with any effort to strengthen manufacturing in the United States through expansion of Buy America and Buy American requirements,” states Babcock.

As part of its growth strategy, Engineered Wire Products acquired facilities in Las Cruces, New Mexico and Warren, Ohio in 2014. “We’ve experienced growth in both facilities over the past year – growth in terms of tons, market footprint, and geography. We expanded Las Cruces within the first year after acquiring the facility. The size of the building was doubled with an expansion and pipe mesh production capabilities were added,” says Babcock.

Meanwhile, EWP has added specialty structural welders to both the Warren and Las Cruces facilities “capable of producing curved ladder mesh for tunnels, along with narrow structural mesh for bridge beams, girders and MSE (mechanically stabilized earth) applications,” says Babcock.

In early 2015, EWP established an alliance with Laurel Steel, a Canadian mesh producer. Under the terms of the alliance, Laurel became a distribution arm for EWP products in Canada. Babcock says the alliance is “working well” and looks forward to further growth with Laurel.

KCI’s most recent acquisition, announced August 5, 2016, involved Strand Tech Martin based in Summerville, South Carolina (renamed Strand Tech Manufacturing through the acquisition). STM produces precast, prestressed strand (prestressed concrete strand is a form of high carbon steel wire used to reinforce prestressed concrete structures. In addition to this, STM also makes post tension strand and high carbon wire products). “The acquisition was a great complement for KCI, as STM services a similar customer base as EWP and is another step toward a full product line offering for the market,” says Babcock. STM is further able to integrate and source rod from the KSW mill.

When profiled last year, EWP had announced 2016 plans to open a mesh facility in Dallas with existing welders staged in a KCI owned facility. When asked for an update, Babcock commented the project was delayed with focus on the STM acquisition. As to future growth, Babcock shared, “EWP will continue to pursue growth geographically, expanding our product line and industry applications for use of Mesh. As a consolidated group of KCI companies, we all have ability to cross-promote and leverage market opportunities, which will certainly be a focus of growth in 2018 and beyond.” On the question of growth through expansion, Babcock simply commented to reflect positively on KCI’s exhibited past commitment to growth, and hope for future expansion opportunities.

As a Mesh facility, EWP is required to produce to standards set by ASTM international (a global standards organization) along with other industry authority standards and regulatory agencies. “EWP produces to strict Standards, operating under a very comprehensive Quality Control Process. Our Production and QC group do a phenomenal job to ensure product makes it out the door as promised and of the highest product Quality in the industry,” compliments Babcock of the Production group.

All EWP locations have received NTPEP (National Transportation Product Evaluation Program) approval, the mesh industry equivalent of ISO or certification. EWP produces reinforcing for various Transportation projects, with oversight by the Department of Transportation (DOT) at the State level. “In order to supply reinforcing for a DOT project, most States require either NTPEP approval or have criteria which must be met in order to be recognized on a QPL (Qualified Products List).” Babcock went on to affirm EWP is positioned for all facilities to meet recognized DOT requirements and Quality Standards.

Asked to cite any interesting construction or industrial projects that have used EWP mesh products, the reply was “nearly any construction application where concrete requires reinforcing,” Babcock states, “or an infrastructure project if driven over or stormwater runs underneath.”

He explains that EWP produced mesh can be found in highways, bridges and tunnels. Stormwater drainage is required under most all impervious surfaces such as roads, parking lots, airports, and commercial / residential areas in general. Babcock goes on to clarify, “with Stormwater, EWP’s reinforcing mesh is mostly utilized in the construction of stormwater conduit Precast structures such as Concrete Pipe and Box Culvert.”

In the construction sector, EWP’s reinforcing has been used in numerous industrial and hi-rise buildings, sports stadiums, in the construction of several distribution centers for a prominent online bookseller and even a nuclear plant. “EWP has provided structural mesh reinforcing concrete canisters subsequently used to store nuclear waste,” says Babcock.

As EWP approaches its 50th anniversary, Babcock attributes the company’s longevity to the customer driven focus and quality of products provided. “We always put our customers first, as EWP strives to exceed customer expectations,” he says. “EWP is a very heavily service-driven organization across both Sales and Production, which provides tremendous value added to the products we sell.”

Speaking to EWP’s exceptional customer-service abilities, Babcock cites “depth of inventory, quick turnaround on product, specialty engineered designs and a high percentage of on-time or ahead of schedule delivery.”

To be sure, the company is proud of its workforce which in turn has displayed an admirable sense of loyalty. Several EWP employees have been with the company for decades. Inside Sales Manager Darlene Thomas, for example, has been working at EWP since 1969.

“I’ve enjoyed seeing the company grow through the years,” states Thomas. “I think our success has been because of the team effort we have toward taking care of our customers. No single department could get the job done well and on time without everyone doing their part and pulling together. I think we all take pride in that. And we have a great group of customers. We hope we’re a small part in their success. They make it enjoyable to come to work.”

Whether they have been with EWP for a long time or not, the company counts plenty of industry veterans as employees. According to EWP, staff in the Sales and Engineering departments as well as many of the Production staff, have an average of 20 years or more of expertise in their respective roles. As Thomas notes, the company’s corporate culture is built around a collective ethos and team approach, along with a strong commitment to quality.

In terms of EWP’s commitment to the industry, Babcock says, “We are very active supporting our industry associations and members. Our staff participates in many technical committees, National and State association and EWP exhibits at most all industry trade shows.”

As for the future, “hope remains to see positive legislation to support our highways and infrastructure with funding at both the Federal and State levels,” says Babcock. “Internally our focus will always remain progressive to promote the benefits with conversion of rebar to WWR, providing the highest level of service to our valued customer.”

September 15, 2019, 11:04 PM EDT