Read Dean's story and how Armstrong Steel helped him with the building of his dreams
Armstrong Steel Buildings helps Dean see his dream become his legacy
Colorado - Dean D. is a true Colorado native. His proud family heritage exists on a forty acre property on Colorado’s western slope. The property has been a part of his family for over a century. “My family staked out this land back in the early days of Colorado,” says Dean.
Although Armstrong Steel may be best known for our large scale commercial or industrial projects, it is often the role we play when helping private customers see their life-long dreams become a reality, that we consider our greatest successes.
For generations, Dean’s family lived and worked the land, building memories and creating a legacy. Sometime in the 1980’s, Dean decided to add a signature structure to the property which shares the home his parents owned their entire lives. “I grew up on that acreage and it was the place I wanted to build my dream – a building which would house classic trucks.”
For reasons unimportant, the building sat unassembled for a quarter of a century. Western Colorado can be a harsh climate – winters may be brutally cold, summers are often a mixed bag of desert heat and a pronounced rainy season. The elements will take their toll on even finished and maintained buildings – but an incomplete structure has little hope for eventual occupancy.
Revisiting a Building Purchase
Twenty five years later, with children grown and some well-deserved time on his hands, Dean decided to finish his dream classic truck and tinkering shelter. “It was time, but I was not about to purchase a new building until I figured out what I was going to do with the incomplete building that was already on the land,” Dean maintains. “I saw a commercial for an Armstrong competitor and began to make some calls. No one was interested in helping find a solution to the problem of my existing building, every company I called wanted to sell me a new structure, dismissing the fact that I had something already on the land I needed to somehow deal with.”
At this point in the story, Armstrong Steel was still unknown to Dean D. “It was the competitor who brought up Armstrong Steel. I had never even heard of Armstrong but my curiosity was aroused because, in my mind, apparently Armstrong was a company which was making the competition uneasy, otherwise they would have never brought it up, I wanted to know why.”
Dean D. has the usual casual and friendly composure of any native of western Colorado. Coupled with a disarming politeness, his demeanor might come across as simple to anyone unfamiliar with the business style of people from this part of the country. Don’t let it fool you - Dean has a shrewd and experienced business mind and a firm belief that deals can be satisfied by a handshake; an outdated expectation that a man’s word is more important to a transaction than the money involved.
Dean began to research Armstrong Steel, one of many companies he looked in to. He diligently exhausted his resources, determined to find the right partner for his project. To Dean, this wasn’t just a building, he was adding to a legacy he would eventually leave to his children and grandchildren. “This building was a place where I could set up my children with a place to carry on a long family tradition and I needed to choose a company which believed that too,” Dean said.
'A World of Difference'
“The first time I met with [Armstrong Steel VP and COO] Eric Beavers, I was surprised at his approach. Eric didn’t want to puff up his chest, knock the competition, or try to sell me a solution, in fact, he didn’t try to sell me anything at all – he actually just told me the parts I would need replaced in order to complete the existing structure. Rather than press me to buy these parts from Armstrong, Eric actually told me to go back to the original building supplier and give them an opportunity to make it right.” This unheard of approach to business was almost a shock, even to the savvy business mind of Dean D., an experienced businessman who had seen just about everything.
The realization that Dean could complete the existing building opened up a whole new possibility he had not considered. “This got me to thinking that I could actually have not one, but TWO buildings on the property – the existing 25 year old building and a brand new one as well.”
“I felt that Armstrong really wanted to help me out, not just sell me something, and that meant a lot,” remarked Dean. “Armstrong does everything on the computer and the internet, I don’t do much on the internet, so they took time to meet with me in person.”
Ready to Buy
Dean’s research narrowed the final selection for his new building to three possible companies. Armstrong’s bid came in about $1200 higher than Dean’s second choice. “Eric didn’t realize but I was researching prices and structural solutions on my own. I would then ask him questions which I already knew the answer. Eric always gave me the honest answer – I knew then that the $1200 extra I was paying was an unspoken premium for the peace that comes with working with a company I could trust.”
Dean adds, “Eric doesn’t seem to care what comes out of his mouth because he is honest. If you’re honest, you don’t have to watch what you say.” Dean explains that in business, sometimes your best resource is your gut feeling. “From the moment I walked into Armstrong Steel, this place seemed like a big family and they were inviting me to be a part of it.”
Because of the rapidly changing weather conditions unique to Colorado’s western slope, Dean knew that the rainy season would descend on the property in no time. The project was ‘yellow filed’ – an internal Armstrong Steel designation meaning that time is of the essence. Dean’s project was expedited – plans were drawn, approved, revised, and reapproved in a quick but thorough Armstrong Steel procedure.
Going the Extra Mile
At this point, you might think the happy story ends without a hitch. But the conclusion of this process was not entirely seamless. “Problems happen in every construction project. Supplies are lost or damaged, timelines change, contractor mistakes happen, even shipping is far from an exact science,” says Beavers.
When the building arrived on Dean’s property, Dean’s customary attention to his investment determined that he was missing the base angles. Without these, completing the project would be impossible. Adding to the severity of the problem, Dean’s contractor was not local and he was paying lodging costs, per diems, and other expenses related to the construction crew.
“It helped me remain level headed because Armstrong Steel prepared me for the likelihood of problems, but that didn’t mean I wasn’t still seeing the dollars adding up!” Dean explains. “I also knew that the rainy season was about to hit so if the building wasn’t completed on time, it would be disastrous.”
Dean immediately got on the phone with Kitty Uhle, Armstrong Steel’s shipping specialist. Kitty tracked the missing parts and because of Armstrong Steel’s massive national shipping network, was able to orchestrate a pick-up of the base angles from a mis-delivered location, set-up a rendezvous with another driver who then actually slept in his truck overnight so that he could deliver the base angles to Dean’s contractor on time. The fast action by Kitty prevented added expense and additional completion time for Dean – his contractor completed the building ahead of schedule and they were able to beat the rainy season. “I know that if I had chosen any other company, that building would be sitting on the ground now,” says Dean.
Hitting Firm Deadlines
“We are able to make a firm deadline and stick to it,” Eric Beavers says modestly. “Unlike many pre-engineered steel building companies, we have an internal detailing and engineering department. We have a shipping department, we have sales people and project managers who become intimate with each building and each customer – as real people who have real experiences and real lives. We don’t encourage this approach, we require it.”
And today, if you find yourself traveling through Western Colorado, you might happen upon two modest steel buildings sitting on a tract of family land. You might not realize that those buildings house one man’s dreams, his hopes for his children, his legacy for his grandchildren; they stand on the land where his childhood memories exist and new memories will be created. And, similar to how we feel about every customer, Armstrong Steel is honored to be a part of the history.