Steel has been the strong backbone of the construction industry for well over one hundred and fifty years. As a fabricator structural and miscellaneous steel for commercial and industrial projects, Lexington-based MIG Steel Fabrication supports the construction industry throughout the Southeast United States with high-quality products and responsive customer service.
A Balance Between Industry and Art
The projects underway at MIG Steel Fabrication encompass a variety of building types and display the company’s wide range of manufacturing capabilities. Ranging from multi-story university facilities, such as the 507 ton Turner Family Center at Nashville’s Meharry Medical College, or the 485 ton Nursing Building at Southwest Community College in Memphis, TN. MIG Steel has a proven record in steel fabrication for traditional structures.
However, some projects reflect a more complex vision by the architect and MIG Steel Fabrication has shown a unique capability in bringing these artistic projects to life. The recently completed Talley Tower at North Carolina State University’s Student Union is a prime example. Standing over one-hundred fifty feet above the campus skyline and fabricated from sixty-six tons of open-lattice rolled steel, this unique three million dollar artisan project represents MIG Steel’s most creative project to date and a clear illustration of its ambition to be known as go-to specialist in architectural steel structures.
The project has required intense care, as well as cooperation between MIG and partner Anatomic Iron Steel Detailing. “In our shop we divided the project into eight layers, and each layer was built complete on our shop floor, then shipped to a finish painter in Georgia and on to North Carolina State University where it was installed by our steel erectors,” explains Richard Gast, Operations Manager at MIG Steel Fabrication. He notes that the project is in its final stages being touched up with 3-coat high end urethane finish.
It is complex, challenging, and the kind of rare project that any company with a true passion for steel work hopes for. “There are not very many of them that happen – when they do happen, if we get the opportunity or see that they’re out there, we definitely look for them,” says Gast. “Right now this is our first artisan project, and everybody in their minds wondered whether it could be done. But we got it done, it looks great, and it’s going to finish up nicely.”
Keeping Up with Techniques and Technology
Steel fabrication may be an age-old industry, but technology has helped to push the trade forward and MIG Steel Fabrication is at the forefront. “We’re constantly looking for applications that can enhance our systems – it’s all process oriented, and we have to look for new developments all the time,” says Gast, noting that MIG is in the process of updating its FabTrol Systems steel fabrication software to boost efficiencies throughout the company’s value chain.
“Right now we’re adding modules to that which will allow us to directly access the databases at our warehouse companies and give pricing back within just a few minutes,” he says. “It will allow us to take the files we get for our drawings, import that information into FabTrol, and it will have pricing come back to us almost instantly. We can know whether stock is available, have instant pricing, and be able to place orders much more quickly. That’s one interesting new feature that’s coming about for us.”
MIG Steel Fabrication also utilizes BIM and 3D modeling for the vast majority of its drafting projects, in order to better communicate with architects and designers. According to Gast, this method has saved construction projects valuable time and resources. “We’ve had chances to make corrections, where we’ve caught modeling errors between the two models that don’t work together,” he notes. “It saves some time and effort on the back side in not having to correct work that’s wrong.”
Still another standard that has become increasingly popular in recent years is LEED certification, as more businesses strive to improve their sustainability and carbon footprint. MIG Steel Fabrication caters toward LEED certification by improving their own products and production methods toward more sustainable standards. “That’s an easy thing for us to handle,” says Gast.
Growth in the Future
For MIG Steel Fabrication, the future holds growth in several ways. “I would say we are on a three year growth pattern and are looking for new technology in the shop over a three year period in order to enhance our fabrication,” says Gast. “As far as projects go, we’re fine tuning what we’re looking for in projects as far as size and type and who we want to work for, and what types of contracts are best for us.”
Recently the company opened a new office in Nashville, in order to better serve its clients and expand its employee base, and thus far the prospects in the city have been promising. “With a good increase in permits being pulled, there is a lot of stuff out there on the boards for engineers and architects – Nashville’s going to be a good market for us for a good timeframe,” says Gast. “We’re not stuck to Nashville – we’re looking through the whole Southeast right now, catching work down in Mississippi, Alabama, and some in Georgia – but in the near future, Nashville’s looking bright.”
But no matter where MIG Steel Fabrication sets down roots, it’s undeniable that the business is growing strong, ready to take on bigger and brighter challenges every day. “We feel like we’ve developed a good group of folks – we’ve got a great team going here, we can run 40-50,000 shop hours a year pretty easily, and we’re developing constantly,” says Gast. “We’re a growing concern. Last year was a good year for us, and we expect this year to be even better. It gets better every year.”