Case Studies

Bristol Steel & Conveyor Corporation

Working across the industry to stay on top

Bristol Steel & Conveyor Corporation (Bristol) was founded in 1979 by Raymond Oliver. The company, headquartered in Davison, Michigan, began as a small light structural and rigging outfit. However, with bigger dreams for his new business, Ray plotted a course that has allowed Bristol to flourish and grow into the thriving $35 million fabrication and erection company it is today.

Fast-approaching its 35-year anniversary, Bristol has much to celebrate. The company’s employee numbers, which fluctuate with workload, are at an all-time high; over 300 team members, including office staff, fabrication and field workers. Bristol also has incredible statistics when it comes to its fabrication and erection services. The company has fabrication capabilities of 1,500 tons per month, the largest in Michigan, as well as erection experience on projects of over 10,000 tons.

Leading fabricators and erectors

To accommodate its growing team of industry professionals and keep pace with its increasing workload, the company recently completed a 25 percent expansion of its main office in Davison, Michigan, which is also home to its fabrication facility. The fabrication shop measures 95,000 square feet with thousands of additional square footage for handrail, stair and miscellaneous fabrication. The main shop is equipped with a state-of-the-art CNC plasma burner equipment, a Peddinghaus angle line, a controlled drill line and a paint shop.

When it comes to technology, Bristol is using industry-leading innovation in every project it takes on. The company’s automated manufacturing process, which is integrated with its CAS system, ensures accuracy, quality and efficient production time while reducing overall costs to fabricate. Bristol also utilizes the CAD SDS2 format for shop drawings and detailing, enabling the automation of the fabrication process, including machine to machine communication.

Bristol is widely known and respected as Michigan’s premier steel fabricator and erector, but the company also performs as a machinery mover and rigging and material handling equipment supplier.

“We have a solid reputation with our vendors, suppliers and clients,” says Bill Borch, director of marketing and sales. “We offer everything our clients need from start to finish.”

Furthermore, Bristol welders are AWS-certified and the company is an AISC-certified fabricator.

Bristol Steel & Conveyor Corporation

Taking on complex projects

With over 30 years of industry experience, the company is able to apply its breadth of knowledge to every project ensuring safe, professional and on-time delivery regardless of scope or size. Bristol has completed projects in diverse markets, including the automotive, petro-chemical, institutional, industrial and commercial sectors. “No job is out of our league,” says Bill. “We’re always ready to take on a challenge.”

Positioned in the heart of the industrial world and equipped with industry-leading tools and technology, Bristol is able to complete work across the country. Bristol works with a broad network of vendors for various project components and also has the volume capacity to work with mills directly. The company generally completes jobs in-house and fabricates all of the iron used in its projects.

Currently, the company is working on major projects in Tennessee, Kentucky, Kansas and Missouri, as well as a renovation and addition to Oakland University located in southeast Michigan. The company is completing a $20 million combination tire and wheel shop and body shop in Louisville, Kentucky. Other projects include the latest addition on the Big House stadium at University of Michigan and work at the Detroit Motor City Casino.

“Our specialized equipment allows us to fabricate trusses at a rate others can’t compete with,” says Bill. “We’re fabricating 10 per day, and we’re turning them out better than anyone and we are the premier truss fabricator in the Midwest.”

Among its more complex projects, Bristol recently completed a job, requiring erecting steel with a helicopter. “We’ve done many of these projects,” explains Bill. “It’s dangerous and intricate, but we have the skill sets to complete the most mundane to the most complex jobs out there. We have no boundaries with respect to scope of work.”

Setting new safety standards

As the cornerstone for the foundation of Bristol, safety is at the core of every job it performs. “Safety is critical in steel erection and fabrication, so we gauge success to a great degree on how many man hours we perform and how safely we complete them,” says Bill. “Our EMR is 0.64, which is very impressive within industry standards. “

Leveraging the experience of its team, the company developed a safety program, B-Safe, that exceeds industry standards while still maintaining production rates. B-Safe was developed through the collaboration of the industry’s leaders in safety and Bristol’s field and shop employees in an effort to achieve reductions in recordable injuries. “This program has become so successful and has reduced our safety rating so drastically that it is now being duplicated across the industry,” says Bill.

Not only is Bristol’s ground-breaking B-Safe program now being used by other industry-leaders, but the company has also been recognized for its innovative approaches to fall protection. Thinking proactively when it comes to fall protection led Bristol to develop a program that identifies and mitigates risk well before the first worker arrives on-site.

“We often include fall protection features into the steel that comprises the project,” says Bill. “By including built in tie off points and pre-run safety lines in the web of beams, the risks to our workers is greatly reduced.”

In addition to the Bristol’s innovative safety programs, the company has been given multiple awards for its safety record.

Equipment rentals

The company offers full-service equipment rentals from its Davison office, including man lifts, fork trucks and small and large cranes. Furthermore, the company is also notably the largest leasing agency of Broderson Cranes in the U.S.

In addition to its wide array of equipment rentals, the company is home of the Rigger Special, a large fork truck with 30,000 to 120,000 pound capacities used by rigging outfits throughout the United States.

Focused on sustainable growth

Since its conception, Bristol has continued to grow in both company size and in the scope of projects it is able to perform. “We always strive for 5 percent growth from the previous year,” explains Bill. “Pushing our boundaries just a little allows us to gain more experience without overextending and degrading our integrity. If we are able to hit our numbers in the field and in the shop I call that success.”

Unlike many companies, Bristol continued to flourish despite the recent recession. The company attributes its success through the downturned economy to its strong leadership and diversified skill sets.

“We try to stay in the trends and go where the money is,” says Bill. “The more pliable and accommodating we are to the marketplace, the more we will be able to grow in the future. I credit Ray Oliver, our founder, for being astute and educating our employees with the skills they need to work in different sectors — he’s an impressive individual when it comes to steering the boat.”

In order to reach its goals of sustainable growth, the company plans to progress into different market sectors by diversifying and adding new services to its already impressive list of offerings. Bristol Steel & Conveyor Corporation will continue to lead the way in safety and provide high quality services for years to come.

Published on: April 7, 2015

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