Case Studies

Steel Nation Inc.

Constructing safe and quiet buildings for the energy industry

Mark Caskey established Steel Nation Inc. (Steel Nation) in 2008, constructing high quality steel buildings for the coal industry throughout Appalachia, the central plains and into Montana. Over the last six years, the business has grown significantly. The Steel Nation team has since shifted from coal to primarily serving the oil and natural gas sector. “About 95 percent of our work is in oil and gas,” notes Caskey, president of Steel Nation. “We build safe, cool and quiet natural gas compression and processing plants.”

“When we started to see the shift in the energy sector from coal to shale gas, the Marcellus and Utica shale formations under Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia were starting to boom,” Caskey continues. “We saw an opportunity here in Pennsylvania. A lot of the early compressor buildings were very poorly built and we recognized that we needed to shift focus into the shale gas industry. We took our knowledge from building coal prep plants and picked up our first client, Pittsburgh based Atlas Energy, when we guaranteed that we would design-build much more cost effective buildings that would never overheat, or annoy neighbors due to the loud compressor engines. From these humble beginnings, Steel Nation has completed more than 175 buildings, all of them classified as steel buildings or pre-engineered metal buildings.

Tough buildings

Steel Nation boasts nine core employees, working together out of a central office in Washington, Pa. The team consists mostly of construction management professionals, designers, engineers, estimators and project managers. The business works with a strong set of subcontractors, specifically three primary steel erection teams, foundation/concrete installers, mechanical and electrical subcontractors.

Project managers regularly oversee between 60 and 80 builders in the field, dedicated to putting together tough steel buildings that keep workers and neighbors safe while cutting down on noise. The crew’s projects are concentrated in the natural gas producing states of Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, New York, Michigan and Texas. Caskey notes his team will go wherever clients need the company’s services; however, concentrate primarily in North America.

“We really focus on what we do best, which is oil and natural gas,” Caskey notes. “We break our business into two segments. First is midstream work which is how to transport gas from well sites to the transmission lines. That makes up about 75 percent of our work. The other 25 percent is on the transmission lines, which run from midstream operations to underground storage facilities or directly to public utilities nationwide.

“We build the safest, coolest and quietest compressor stations,” He continues. “In addition, we also build heavy duty warehouses, office buildings, storage facilities, sound walls and blast-resistant control rooms. There are often the offices where men and women work at each facility. These workers have to be in a blast resistant building in case of an explosion at the plant. Keeping them safe is a big part of our business.”

Recent work

Recent work includes a large scale project for MarkWest near Seneca Lake, Ohio. “We are building a processing plant with a four-unit electrical compressor building,” says Caskey. “The building is 60 by 210 feet in area and 38 feet tall. This project is one of the largest gas processing plants in the Utica and Marcellus Shale formations. This is the perfect size building, not too small, not too big. This was a tight site, so getting proper access to all four sides of the building was our biggest challenge. There is so much piping on the back side and we had a really hard time getting behind there.”

Compressor stations make up a major part of the company’s work. Usually when SNI arrives, compressors are already in place, installed by a mechanical contractor. “We come in and work to build around the compressor engines, adding special designs to ensure that personnel are working within the safest building possible,” Caskey explains. “We design for safety. We have to make these buildings very cool. Compressor engines are hot and we have to move a lot of air to remove heat from the motors or they will shut down. We also make very quiet buildings. Our goal is to build the coolest, quietest and safest facilities on the market. These stations are usually in rural areas, but with new buildings and changes in the industry, the stations are starting to be built near suburbia. We want these plants to operate safely, without disturbing neighborhoods, businesses, churches or schools.”

Steel Nation is ramping up for a major project for Williams Energy at the company’s Central Plant in Kingsley, Pa. According to Caskey, this is another large processing station that feeds into several transmission lines running from Chicago through Buffalo and over toward the heavily populated Eastern Seaboard.

“This is a large processing plant for Williams,” he notes. “We have done 10 buildings there already and we are getting ready to mobilize this project in the next few weeks. We will be erecting a building for a centrifugal turbine engine. We have already constructed one turbine building there as well as numerous compressor buildings, an office, a warehouse, motor control centers and other blast-resistant buildings.”

Looking ahead

Steel Nation has remained stable throughout the recent recession. While changing environmental and safety regulations constantly challenge the industry, Caskey and his team work hard to stay a step ahead. The Steel Nation team undergoes rigorous safety training, including Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) 10- and 40-hour courses, ISNetworld certification and SafeLand training, which are proprietary safety management systems designed specifically for the oil and gas industry.

The company has built a reputation for quality. SNI has never had a building overheat, never faced litigation for loud buildings, and has established a strong safety record. In the coming years, Caskey and his team hope to continue building strong client relationships to ensure controlled growth for the company. As the business expands, Steel Nation Inc. maintains a strong commitment to clients, building high-performance plants that keep employees and neighbors safe while processing the energy that enables American energy independence for years to come.


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Spring 2018



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