A lack of steel framers remains steel framing’s biggest barrier to growth

Nov 01, 2009 | 05:29 AM |

With most builders exhibiting a "Lincoln Log" vs. an "Erector Set" mentality, steel framing seems destined to remain only a small fraction of the U.S. residential construction market.

The sector is fragmented, with a multitude of residential steel framing producers scattered throughout the country and no large entity dominating the market—one that, according to industry sources, accounts for less than 1 percent of all houses built in the United States.

But some solace might lie in the Internet, with customers increasingly using the Web to map their way to players in the small niche market. Certain climates and increasingly educated customers also have helped grow business.

Jim Andrews, director of sales at Tulsa, Okla.-based Metal Building Industries (MBI), said that many customers find his company largely via the Internet. "Most of our customers seek us out and come to us because we use true residential framing—steel studs instead of wood studs—and there are no beams protruding in the houses. It is just a stronger house. We started in commercial steel framing and moved into residential as we found it is the best solution for a customer trying to achieve it all," said Andrews, whose company is in the midst of building a home in the Chicago suburb of Wheaton.....

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