PACAL Industries LLC
- Written by: Molly Shaw
- Produced by: Sean O'Reilly
- Estimated reading time: 4 mins
For more than a century, PACAL Industries LLC (PACAL) has been a name synonymous with steel. “We’ve been in the steel fabrication and distribution business for 122 years,” shares Erv Kamm, CEO and owner of PACAL. Since 1891, the Minnesota-based company has built a reputation on furnishing high quality custom metal fabrications, machining, welding and assembly for original equipment manufacturers and industrial contractors and bridge builders throughout the U.S. and beyond.
PACAL specializes in high strength carbon steel, as well as stainless and component parts made to exact requirements. “We start with plate steel and utilize huge burning tables to cut out exactly the piece we need; it’s kind of like a jigsaw puzzle,” explains Kamm.
Kamm goes on to explain that the company performs a great deal of infrastructure work, including short-span steel bridges. “We are an American Institute of Steel Construction [AISC] certified contractor,” he continues. “This is a very prestigious certification, for only the crème de la crème so-to-speak in the steel industry. We’re also a member of the American Welding Society [AWS].”
Building on a Century-long Tradition
PACAL certifications and expert capabilities didn’t happen overnight; each is a result of the better part of a century and time-tested skill. “The company was incorporated in 1905 as Paper, Calmenson & Company,” recalls Kamm. “They started by accumulating and distributing scrap steel in St. Paul, Minn., serving railroads and building military barges.”
Kamm assumed leadership of the company in 1999 and later changed the name to PACAL in 2004. “We now buy steel from steel mills as a premier heavy steel welder for bridge construction and assembly in the country,” he imparts. “We support mainly highway contractors and bridge builders from municipalities to industrial contractors.”
The company remains based in St. Paul with an additional facility in La Crosse, Wis. “We do all of our manufacturing in La Crosse,” details Kamm. “We have sales, information technology and financial elements of the company in-house in St. Paul.”
As a precision heavy-steel welder, PACAL offers a range of industry-leading service, from stress relieving and heat treating to machining, blasting and painting of component parts, weldments and assemblies. The company specializes in value-added service, from semi-finished component parts to production-ready assemblies.
Precision, Life-saving Parts and Systems
The company is accustomed to the pressure of fabricating incredibly precise metal products, knowing a mistake can cost lives. PACAL’s products include main frames, booms and other massive crane accessories.
One of PACAL’s most recent projects played a critical role in saving living operations at the site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster in history: the 1986 explosion at Chernobyl, Ukraine. The devastating explosion killed two plant workers and 30 firefighters who died of radiation exposure within three months. Radiation emissions also forced some 272,000 people to relocate. Much of the area remains abandoned to this day and the deterioration of the concrete and steel structure over the reactor called for the move to construct a new shelter to support the decades-long process of disassembling the plant.
“We were selected as one of five steel fabricators by World Bank to build a 30-foot-by-30-foot holding facility over the Chernobyl reactor using a mobile tool platform to lift debris from the damaged site,” reveals Kamm.
The platform produced by PACAL weighs a hefty 35,000 pounds when loaded with robotic tools and attached to the crane system in the special building at the Chernobyl site. “Technologically, it’s the most advanced crane system we’ve ever run across,” notes Jim Hartmann, CORE accounts director at PACAL. “The controls are wireless, because you can’t have people in the building.”
Kamm goes on to note that 14 different inspectors and auditors from Russia, France and other parts of Europe came to visit the site for quality reviews. “It’s been a huge achievement for us and has drawn a great deal of attention to PACAL,” he continues. “In fact, the prime contractor was so impressed with product and productivity they asked us to come back for further work. They transferred all 330,000 pounds of excess material to be stored at our facility.”
It’s no secret that the PACAL team works well under pressure. The company also builds lock and dam replacement parts of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, including one part recently installed at Lock and Dam 7 at Dresbach that’s 110 feet long and weighs 37,000 pounds.
“We don’t compete with everybody with a welder in their garage,” says Hartmann, “We specialize in big, heavy and not easy to do.”
With new high-bay manufacturing areas that span approximately 40,000 square feet each at the company’s La Crosse facility, PACAL has no plans of slowing down. “We’re expanding our relationships with customers in the crane business with two new crane builders both on national and international grounds in the past three months,” reveals Kamm. PACAL Industries LLC continues to build bigger and better after more than a century supporting heavy industrial applications.
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