Raising the Roof – Proudly American and Growing
Canam Steel Corporation (CSC)
After many years in the steel industry, CSC knows how to flex its industry muscle. Market-smart and steel-savvy, this formidable team has done exceptionally well by following its instincts and its expertise. Whatever its clients’ requirements, its top engineers have the answer.
Canam Steel Corporation (CSC) fabricates the largest selection of steel joists and decks of their kind in the industry for clients like steel fabricators, general contractors, developers, and project owners, completing around 4,500 projects annually. Steel joists are used to span long distances and create wide open spaces for both roof and floor structures. Steel deck is used on top of joists, beams or other structural members to support the roof system or floor slabs. Both the joist and deck components are custom designed for each customer as loading and geometric requirements are unique to each project.
The company’s premium steel fabrication work graces the roof structures of many of America’s largest retail spaces, warehouses, and distribution centers, making it an integral part of nearly every American’s shopping experience.
Headquartered in Point of Rocks, Maryland, CSC’s six fabrication locations include facilities at that site and in Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Missouri, and New Jersey from which it serves every U.S. state. “CSC is a U.S.-based company with 100 percent of our fabrication at six U.S.-based manufacturing facilities. We are 100 percent focused on the U.S. market and are creating American jobs as we continue to grow to support continued development throughout the U.S.,” says Michael Martignetti, Vice President of Sales. He has been with the company for twelve years, working his way up after starting in the engineering department.
The original company was founded in Quebec, Canada, in 1961. Back then, its joists were shipped to New England while the company grew quickly thanks to the dedication and hard work of its owner-family. In 1984, Canam was listed as a public company on the Canadian stock exchange. Robust growth through acquisitions and expansions followed. Until it returned to being a private company through American Industrial Partners (AIP), a private equity firm headquartered in New York City.
In 2020, the company’s founding family and some Quebec investors opted to buy the Canadian operation from the now-parent company, leaving AIP with full ownership of the United States business. That is how there came to be two Canams, causing misunderstandings for some. This split resulted in a name change, making CSC (Canam Steel Corporation) the recognizable American company operating entirely independently from Canam Group in Canada as a fully-fledged competitor in its own right.
Today, says President and CEO Taylor Cole, “CSC drives the development of the commercial building landscape across the United States though custom engineered and manufactured open web steel joists and deck products. We do this through the adherence to our key values of industry safety leadership, quality in all that we do, respect for all stakeholders, integrity in our actions and a relentless pursuit of continuous improvement.”
Since supply chain shortages mushroomed across the globe in the wake of COVID-19, Martignetti confirms that “the construction of warehouses has just absolutely boomed.” Some of the reasons he notes for this phenomenon is the rapid growth of e-commerce which he believes to be set for another ten to twelve percent growth moving toward 2030. This comes as retailers now strive to meet the consumer’s demand for quick home delivery despite fragile supply chains.
“For every billion dollars of e-commerce sales, you need about one million square feet of warehouse space, so that sector is growing significantly. Our industry, in terms of demand… doubled overnight shortly after the COVID lockdown started,” he adds. This sudden turn of events brought tremendous growth along with it for CSC.
As the reshoring of manufacturing feeds overall growth of local manufacturers in many places across the United States, the demand for large manufacturing facilities with wide open spaces continues to increase. Despite the supply shortages of 2021, CSC is still thriving thanks to the fact that it has strategic relationships with most of the U.S. steel mills. This turned out to be a tremendously powerful strategic advantage that has stood the firm in good stead, giving CSC the flexibility to choose where to procure the optimum steel for their production. Today, material supply issues are, for the most part, a thing of the past, with extensive backlog being the only current challenge.
As fortune would have it, however, construction schedules are somewhat transient, often freeing up stock and time at unexpected intervals, allowing the team to increase their flexibility to meet customers’ shifting demands. The company’s operations and employee count have also expanded rapidly over the past two years.
“Like in most industries, people have been the hottest commodity,” says Martignetti, noting that a great deal of effort goes into “recruitment and compensation. We put a lot of focus on how we can attract people, improve the work environment, and provide opportunities for career growth.” The effort is yielding results as the company has grown its staff count from 800 to 1,200 in only twenty-four months.
“Over the past 18 months we have made substantial investments in our people and facilities,” agrees Cole. “The competition for people is unyielding and these investments have been crucial to us being able to attract talent in a very tight labor market. Without this focused effort to be the employer of choice in the markets where we operate, we would not have been able to meet our customers’ expectations over the past two years.”
Martignetti describes the company’s team as one big happy family, and the significant length of most people’s tenures stands testimony to the fact. That, of course, contributes to its expertise pool that benefits clients in the best of ways. “They have a wealth of knowledge and have a lot to offer our clients and the design community. [Our team] has also been very adaptable during COVID. We did not miss a beat. They were very flexible, working remotely,” he says.
To continue yielding the same quality results that made it an industry leader in the first place, the firm is finding its sweet spot between having experts on site when needed versus being off-site when not necessary.
CSC designs, engineers, and constructs significantly more than just retail spaces and warehouses. It also does complex roofs and ceilings for churches, schools, and other buildings that sometimes require steel joists with unique geometric shapes or oversized depths and/or lengths, with some being over 10 feet deep and up to 200 feet long. It quickly becomes evident that challenges in engineering, design, and fabrication do not deter this team of industry experts.
Martignetti highlights another plus for CSC as, unlike a steel mill subsidiary, there is no urgency for it to sell as much steel as possible. Instead, its mission is to add as much value as possible to the steel it buys from steel mills while maintaining the high standards set by industry organizations such as Steel Joist Institute (SJI) and Steel Deck Institute (SDI). The company is a certified member of both. CSC is known for doing business with environmentally responsible steel mills. It also ensures that its cutoffs and steel scraps get recycled.
The team is as adept at collaborating with designers from a conception phase as it is with getting involved in ready-to-build designs. It is as much “an engineering services company as a steel products manufacturer. Each project requires products that are custom designed for the specific loads and geometric restraints of the project. We have a team of over one hundred engineers and drafters. [Several] of whom have been in the industry for many years. CSC is not afraid of complex projects,” says Martignetti. The team is well-versed in assisting customers with achieving their desired outcomes within their budgets.
This unwavering commitment to customer service has led to some impressive projects. These include high-rise towers, of which One Vanderbilt and Manhattan West in New York City and 110 North Wacker, and 320 Canal in Chicago are prime examples. It has also contributed to stadiums and event centers like the Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta and American Dream in New Jersey. Then there are the structures CSC has completed for well-known automakers, electric vehicle fabricators, and other goods manufacturers.
Considering the next few years and how it will take on the future, the company’s leadership agrees that growth will remain strategic with a focus on its American customers and their needs. “First and foremost,” says Cole, “is helping fuel the expansion of the nation’s infrastructure that started in 2019. Reshoring of manufacturing, increased needs for more logistics hubs / warehouses due to the growth in e-commerce and new construction of public and private commercial buildings are all exhibiting a trajectory that extends well into the future. That projected growth drives us to be better every day through the continued development of our teams, improvements in operating equipment and efficiency gains to streamline our operations.” CSC will continue to take on complex design challenges to offer steel solutions to building America’s future.