Raising the Roof

Lee Industrial Contracting

For manufacturers of all kinds, installing or relocating equipment is a mammoth task, except when Lee Contracting saves the day. With thirty years of experience and more than four hundred employees, the company keeps huge manufacturing operations running every day of the year all over America, and saves clients many millions of dollars in downtime each year. There is virtually nothing this company does not offer in the field of facility expansion and relocation.
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Absolutely everything about Lee Contracting – from their facility to their capabilities – says ‘massive.’ That is why it stands to reason that this fully employee-owned company is the most successful in their field and was acknowledged by General Motors as a ‘GM Supplier of the Year.’ Lee’s ever-growing popularity has also landed them on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing, privately-owned companies in 2016 and 2017.

Lee Contracting’s hard work and attention to detail pays off. The company knows that when it comes to large installations, it is not the only downtime that costs clients money. Errors in placement and programming, electronics, electricity, air supply, and even foundations can all cause delays, losses, and damage to assets. Lee’s experienced tradespeople work hard to avoid such disasters.

The company is especially valuable to the automotive industry, including original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and Tier 1 and 2 suppliers. This is, however, not the only field in which Lee is experienced. The company is also active in the aerospace, heavy industry, environmental, and energy sectors. Their turnkey capabilities include everything from laying foundations to installing equipment and programming automation systems.

By having the best professionals, material, equipment, and skills in the industry, the Lee Contracting team has made themselves indispensable in the manufacturing industry. They closely monitor each phase to ensure that projects finish on time, while carefully managing client resources.

“Lee is different from our competitors because we are able to control every aspect of a project with our in-house departments. For our customers, this eliminates trying to coordinate different stages of a project with different contractors. Our internal teams work together to seamlessly complete the project,” says Marketing Specialist Rachel E. Ahlgren.

Lee Contracting’s state-of-the-art, Pontiac, Michigan headquarters is composed of five buildings from which their in-house divisions mobilize. These divisions include foundations, rigging, electrical, mechanical, fabrication, machine repair, controls and robotics, building, roof-raising, emergency power, and industrial storage. A 500,000-square-foot building houses the machine repair department and doubles as indoor storage. There is also a 22,000-square-foot fabrication shop.

When it comes to foundations, Lee even has their own unique excavation method that enables pit excavation up to sixty feet deep with no danger of causing damage to the surroundings. The company also lines utility pits with metal sheeting, protecting people and equipment from often moist underground conditions. This foundations expert also offers other related services like stamping presses pits. Fortification of existing foundations is vital to safety and a well-operating machine. For the same reason, Lee also builds foundations for injection mold equipment and mills.

In addition, the company erects poured walls, pours concrete, and builds foundations for colossal buildings. One of Lee’s most impressive foundation projects was the 127-foot foundation pit installed for five Danly presses. The company cleverly incorporated the original pits into the new excavation and custom-built each new cavity for the press it would support.

Lee’s rigging department is just as dedicated. Like the rest of their divisions, this section of the business also runs every day of the year, and their members are exceptionally well-traveled. Flying around the world to stay on top of the latest best practices, Lee Contracting ensures that everything runs smoothly during the installation of welding spaces for robotic arc welders – or weld cells – stamping presses, and equipment rebuilds. They also install overhead cranes and plan the layout and alignment of equipment such as assembly lines.

When it comes to the training of their electrical team, nothing beats the Michigan State University’s apprenticeship school program, which all of Lee’s apprentices pass. The company also believes in ongoing education to ensure that their qualified professionals are aware of the latest installation methods, code changes, and industry standards. Lee’s electrical services cover everything from standby generator installation and emergency services to primary power outlay and installation, machine rewiring and upgrades to complete industrial installations, and infrared imaging. Clients can call at any time and know that the Lee Contracting team are ready to meet any of your industrial project’s needs.

Lee also offers exceptionally complex pipefitting and process pipe installations that are supported by all services needed for these systems to operate smoothly in such facilities. Nothing is too big for the experts at Lee, and the list goes on to include sheet metal fabrication and installation plus the distribution of Boge Compressed Air Systems, Chicago Pneumatics Air Systems, Elgi Compressors, Beko Compressed Air Treatment, and Great Lakes Air Products, which includes a selection of condensate management products for these machines.

This company has achieved incredible feats, saving their customers not days, but months of downtime – for example, when a fire razed around forty percent of a 200,000-square-foot facility in Howell, Michigan. Only four days after the disaster, Lee Contracting had repaired 50,000 square feet of the factory and it was running again at full capacity. Work included erecting temporary walls, setting up generators, extensive rewiring of lighting and machinery and installing six presses while the old machines were being restored. Every one of Lee Contracting’s departments were involved to make this factory operational and did so in a fraction of the time anybody else would have.

Lee Contracting relocated a large amount of equipment from Istanbul, Turkey for a turnkey installation of an 184,000-square-foot pre-engineered facility they had also constructed. The equipment had been in storage for four years, which naturally posed its own challenges. Lee installed a 400-foot metal processing line and installed monorail cranes that were custom-engineered and created for this site. They also fitted a spiral mill with the capacity to produce ten-foot-wide pipe, which was fabricated and installed at the same facility.

The company, which is clearly a force to be reckoned, was started by Ed Lee in 1989. It originally operated as Lee Electric in Clarkston, Michigan, and moved to their current headquarters with only ten employees in 1995. They continued expanding their list of services, and today, the company is 100 percent employee-owned with more than four hundred employees on the team. Their expansion has remained consistent, with twenty-percent annual growth year over year, every year for the past five years.

“During the recession in 2008, the entire industry was struggling. Many companies were closing facilities and moving production overseas. While other companies were shuttering their doors and laying people off, Lee Contracting never had to lay off any employees. We were able to keep our employees working full time, supporting their families despite the rest of the overall economic downturn,” says Rachel.

The company’s caring attitude extends to their local community as they are a trusted and respected partner that is famous for hosting blood drives, a Thanksgiving dinner drive, and being a Pontiac Winter Extravaganza Parade sponsor. This year Lee raised more than $14,000 dollars to aid the Fallen and Wounded Soldiers Fund through their annual golf outing.

Tradition is a strong aspect of the company’s success, and their respect for heritage is palpable. “Lee Contracting was founded with the hope of creating a company that would take on plant projects in their entirety. With each job, we link talented people and project management strategies with proven processes and the best equipment available. We take pride in having brought turnkey solutions to heavy industry for over twenty-five years. In the end, it is the customers that provide us with our greatest satisfaction,” said Founder Ed Lee. And that is what it boils down to for each one of their employees. At Lee Contracting, the client is and will always remain their number one priority.

September 18, 2019, 12:08 AM EDT