Smock Fansler Corporation
Everyone has a favorite outdoor spot where we like to retreat and simply enjoy the atmosphere. For some it can be the local park, with fields of green on which to spread a blanket and enjoy the day. For others, that favorite spot may be a niche in the landscape along a bustling downtown street, where they feel energized and part of the action.
What each person prefers can vary greatly, but according to Smock Fansler Corporation (SFC) the important thing is that feeling of contentment that each person gets from being in their favorite spot, enjoying the space around them. Tom Fansler III, president of SFC, explains that his company specializes in creating functional, aesthetically pleasing environments, including formal gardens, heavy industrial sites and everything in between.
SFC has a tradition of producing quality work. Kenneth Smock founded the company on Oct. 22, 1921, with a used dump truck and a hope for the future. Since then SFC has evolved into a full-service general contractor with a reputation for building things to exacting standards and building things that last.
“We’ve been around since 1921, so we have a tremendous amount of experience,” says Fansler. “We have our own custom metal, wood and specialty fabrication facilities. We employ knowledgeable craft persons. We’re experts in all types of concrete, so we understand how all of those pieces integrate to create an amazing project.”
Allegiance with Clients and Employees Alike
Tom Fansler Jr., Fansler III’s father, still serves as company CEO and has forged and maintained many of the relationships SFC enjoys with both long-term clients and vendors. For instance, SFC has done business with the same insurance agency since 1938.
SFC’s ongoing partnership with Indianapolis Power & Light (IPL) traces back to the company’s beginnings in 1921 when Kenneth himself began hauling cinders to local generating plants. When IPL began grinding coal and producing fly ash, SFC began hauling it away for them; this contract and tradition continued for 61 years. In addition to numerous capitol improvements to IPL’s facilities over the years, SFC has recently been contracted to update or replace IPL’s vast network of duct banks and manholes throughout Indianapolis.
SFC’s workforce is unlike any other; the company employs a wide range of trades. Because of this, SFC is able to self-perform roughly 85 percent of its contracts. General contractors enjoy working with SFC because it negates having to put a project out to bid to a large number of subcontractors.
“Take a high-end project that incorporates water features,” illustrates Fansler. “Typically, a general contractor has to get pricing from a mason, an electrician, a concrete subcontractor, a programmer, etc. Get all of those together and then he can proceed with the project. We do all of those and make sure that they intermesh correctly the first time. We create high-end, problem-free installations. When someone is looking for art fabrication or a park restoration type-piece, we understand how it interacts. Because we have all of those trades in-house, we have a lot more control over the quality, production and how it all comes together.”
SFC has a workforce of loyal, dedicated, dependable employees. Some families are in their third generation as SFC employees, while many others have been with the company over 20 years. “This is a unique position to be in, as we’re able to build on our employees’ experience year after year,” reflects Fansler. “Their know-how and understanding of our company and how we do things deepens and enables them to anticipate possible hiccups and better communicate with their project manager. Overall, I think it provides for a smoother building process.”
The company’s approach to building isn’t that of your typical contractor. For SFC each project is unique, all with its own quirks and challenges. “We don’t have a road map that we follow for all of our projects,” reveals Fansler. “When we approach a new project, we feel that each one is special and deserves to be analyzed and constructed in its own particular way.
“We wouldn’t approach a high-end residential project in the same way we’d approach a heavy industrial project,” continues Fansler. “But even one high-end residential project can differ greatly from another. It’s important for us to get to know our client, know why they are building the project, what their hopes and fears for it are.”
SFC is known to take a holistic approach to construction, often discussing money and timesaving solutions with the general contractors, owners and designers with whom they work. “We feel that relationships with those we work with are important,” says Fansler. “It’s important to us for them to know that we’re here for them. When they have a question, or need help coming up with a solution, we’re here.”
Building the Places We Live, Work and Play
The company has just completed work on the City Center Development, located in Carmel, Ind., an affluent suburb of Indianapolis. This 1 million- square foot mixed-use development features boutique shopping, gourmet dining, cultural and civic venues, luxury residential units and office space. It is designed to be a pedestrian-friendly city within a city, featuring upscale architecture, green spaces, water features and plazas. The development is situated on the Monon Trail, further connecting it to other popular destinations in Carmel and beyond.
SFC installed nearly three acres of decorative pavers, supplied by Indiana Brick, on the parking decks, plazas and streets surrounding the individual buildings that make up the City Center Development itself. The plazas and streetscapes feature four separate water features, a variety of masonry clad structural walls and stairs, a variety of concrete and clay brick pavers resulting in over 40 different combinations of size, thickness and color. Over 400-linear foot custom ornamental steel balustrades and handrails were installed, all of which were fabricated in-house by SFC.
SFC has recently been recognized for its work on Taltree Railway Garden in Valparaiso, Ind. This railway garden is a two-acre g-scale model-train educational exhibit. Using sustainable building practices, SFC created cliffs, gorges, waterfalls and canyons for the trains to weave through on their 3,000 linear feet of track. All the water that makes up the rivers and streams in the exhibit is captured stormwater. This project has won a Greensites award and recognition from the Indiana Chapter of Landscape Architects.
SFC is currently working with a global industrial client to create a zero stormwater-runoff site, which is based on a 100-year stormwater event. With significant aesthetic enhancements, the reconfiguration of the site will improve pedestrian and vehicular safety, increase employee recreation areas and create art spaces, inviting the public into the campus. This project will use cutting-edge sustainable building methods for green infrastructure, while saving the client money over using standard construction practices. Examples of these cost saving methods are zero-waste construction, repurposing salvage pavement materials and stone and repurposing light poles.
SFC’s work on the Glick Peace Walk has won a prestigious Monumental Affair Award from local chapter of Keep America Beautiful, Keep Indianapolis Beautiful (KIB). The peace walk is a part of the Indianapolis Cultural Trail and is dedicated to individuals that achieved greatness though peaceful pursuits. Each of the 12 luminaries are celebrated in a sculptural garden area that features specialized granolithic pavement, an 8-foot glass and metal sail bearing an image of the luminary and custom programmed lighting. The metal work done was by Tarpenning LaFollette.
Heavy industrial work is also within SFC’s repertoire. The company recently completed a precast furnace foundation for a nationwide steel-manufacturing client. This foundation was precast in the melt shop during full production. The whole project was completed in only 17 days, with no loss in production during its construction.
The company’s projects can also be found in shopping centers, hospitals, high-end residences and commercial buildings throughout the Midwest. SFC’s work is enjoyed by millions of visitors the region attains annually. The Fansler family is successfully guiding the Smock Fansler Corporation, one of Indiana’s most respected general contracting firms, into the 21st century.
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