At a Glance
Structural steel fabrication and construction
Cal-State Steel Corp. gives a new meaning to the phrase “one-stop shop.” The Compton, California-based steel-fabrication company prides itself on its ability to service customers with a structural-steel and miscellaneous package all under the same contract. And it owns its own fleet of trucks, cranes, and welding equipment, allowing the firm to render its varied services to a large Southern California market primarily within a 100-mile radius.
Originally created as a miscellaneous and ornamental shop in 1963, Cal-State Steel Corp. (CSSC) has grown since 1976 thanks to the leadership of Dave Olson, manager of operations, and his other partners, Les Furdek, CFO, and Salvador Valenzuela, shop manager. With a staff of 150 employees, the company possesses an extremely good safety record and low turnover rate, Olson says, noting that the average office employee has worked for the company 12 years and that the average shop employee stays for eight years. “About 90 percent of our employees are homegrown,” Olson says, “meaning they started with little or no experience in the field and, through training, they’ve worked their way up to more specialized and management positions in the company.”
CSSC’s fabrication facilities sit on nine and a half acres, with four buildings covering more than 100,000 square feet of area and served by bridge cranes, each with a 20-ton capacity. The open yard in the middle of the buildings is used for material storage for upcoming jobs, and it’s served by forklifts and 28-ton-capacity cranes.
Top 5 Metal Elements Fabricated and Erected by CSSC
1. Structural steel works as the skeleton of a building, a strong frame that can either sit exposed or be built around.
2. Miscellaneous steel is not part of the main structure and includes building elements such as canopies, windscreens, trash enclosures, ladders, etc.
3. Steel stairways are often popular, and the company offers its own standard spiral-stair design that’s attractive, lightweight, and economical.
4. Railings for stairways, landings, and balconies are often necessary.
5. Steel site fences, pool fences, security fences, and security gates are stronger than wood and offer complete privacy.
The lack of private-sector work available to bid on during the economic downturn has pushed CSSC in new directions, and Olson says over the past six years the firm’s percentage of new contracts has flipped from 90 percent in the private sector to 90 percent in the public sector. The majority of the work has been for Los Angeles public schools and community colleges, and in the past three years CSSC has fabricated and erected more school projects than any other fabricator. But, since 2005 the firm has also completed fire stations, libraries, animal shelters, hospitals, military bases, and airports.
“Public-sector work involves more demanding quality-control standards, safety standards, inspection standards—as well as substantially more bureaucratic documentation requirements,” Olson says, adding that he does see these higher standards as a guiding force that has made CSSC a better fabricator. The architecture and engineering are accentuated on such high-profile projects, creating more challenges, including sloped or curved glass walls; sloping roofs; and long, open spans with cantilevered, exposed steel framing.
“The San Diego International Airport expansion is a new, challenging project we are starting in fall 2011 that involves a curved, sloping glass-wall support system,” Olson says. The support steel is exposed, and its larger frames will need to be fabricated by CSSC and then arrayed in a complex design. The project will require precise installation, welding, and finishing of all exposed surfaces. Such a project requires the highest safety measures, but CSSC’s worker’s compensation insurance-experience-modification rate is a mere .78—something the company notes with pride.
Olson says CSSC has an outstanding quality-control program, staff, and inspection team. The company is licensed by the city of Los Angeles as a Type 1 fabricator with approvals to fabricate unlimited structural steel (USS), high-strength steel (HSS), and rebar. “The quality of our workmanship has been a major factor for repeat work from contractors and owners,” Olson says. And he adds that sustainability is an integral part of Cal-State Steel Corporation because 100 percent of the scraps are recyclable. All of the waste created during the manufacturing of various projects is crafted into steel for use in new projects—a subtle reminder of both where the firm has been and where it’s going. ABQ