Case Studies

Urban Construction Company

Erecting Building Structures is a Source of Pride

Since 1948, Urban Construction Company (Urban), a Wisconsin-based commercial construction organization, has been consistently delivering quality pre-engineered metal buildings and general contracting projects to clients. The company was originally founded by George Urban, for whom the company owes its name, and was later purchased by Phil Kilinski and Jerry Pickruhn.

After 50 years in business, in 1998, the company was purchased by Dale Pickruhn, son of Jerry and the company’s current in-house registered engineer, and Michael Kilinski, son of Phil and now president of Urban. Michael and Dale are joined by two additional partners, JD Woller and Brian Karlen, both whom own a lesser percentage of the company.

“We do work primarily in about 11 counties surrounding central Wisconsin,” says Michael, who quickly adds that Urban has conducted work in additional states, including Michigan, Minnesota, Iowa, Utah and Florida. “But those out-of-state projects are typically for one-time customers that had another business or satellite business in another state.”

Michael estimates that approximately 75 percent of Urban’s business involves pre-engineered steel manufactured by Butler Manufacturing (Butler), while the other 25 percent involves general contracting work. “Butler steel is a brand name style of steel building typically seen in warehousing, manufacturing, storage and any type of office structure,” he explains. Michael enjoys the quality and reliability of Butler steel.

If a client requires a custom project, however, Urban is more than happy to fit the bill. “We can take a project from concept drawings and engineering all the way through to completion,” says Michael. “We have our own in-house engineer. We have our own drafting department and CAD operators. We can take it from concept to drawings, to plans, through the state approval process, all the way to giving the client keys to walk in the door. We do it all.”

Combined with Urban’s many years of experience shared between the company’s 25 employees, that ability to walk clients through to completion, argues Michael, is what sets the company apart from competitors. “We’re quite fortunate, because within our company most people in the office and crew staff have been here for quite a few years,” he says. “So there’s a lot of experience, here.”

Extending labor reach

Although much of Urban’s construction labor is self-performed, Michael admits to subcontracting out between approximately 25 and 30 percent of the company’s labor.

“We self-perform our own building erection, but we sell enough during the year that we have to hire erection crews to help,” says Michael. “Of course, that’s all based upon time schedules, weather and how many projects have been sold, but we do have three local erection crews that we sub to, just to aid in the erection process.”

What it comes down to, according to Michael, is volume. If the volume demands extra labor, Urban pulls in outside labor forces. The reactive behavior plays a part in why the company has continued to evolve and adapt over the years to market changes.

“It fluctuates,” says Michael. “Right now, we’re working on a 100,000-square-foot project, so that takes a lot of man hours. If it was July and the building demand was way up, we’d have to bring in other help for other projects, because there would be multiple erection projects going up at the same time.”

To expedite construction times even more, Urban also subcontracts out all of the interior finishes of a building. The company solely focuses on the core and skeleton of a structure, leaving the electrical, plumbing, heating, land preparation and so forth, to other companies specialized in those areas. “We are very fortunate to have long-term relationships with local contractors to complete a high quality project,” Michael says.

“Engineering, layout, design, that’s what we do,” continues Michael. “We work with the customer to design the building and get it properly fitted for what they need. And their budget.”

Past projects

In December 2012, Urban moved into a brand new, state-of-the-art 24,000-square-foot facility featuring an office, sheet metal shop, storage area and metal fabricating shop. As a construction company, though, Urban would not settle for anything other than the best, which meant the company had to be the one to construct the building.

“If this facility was built for someone else, it would be quite a nice project,” says Michael with a laugh. “It’s real modern and real practical, also very astatically pleasing for our area. With a nice colored roof entrance inlay and brick where the office area is. There’s a nice neat storage area. The building is quite high, too, to accommodate a five-ton crane inside. This really would be a fantastic project for anyone, either for ourselves or someone else, as well.”

That sense of pride is at the forefront of all of Urban’s projects, including the construction of what is supposedly the largest curling facility within the U.S., according to Michael. “It’s in Wausau, Wisc., and that was a nice project,” he details. “It was about a 45,000-square-foot building that included the rinks, eight sheets, gathering areas, hospitalities, restrooms, kitchens; the whole thing. It was a unique project, too, because we mainly did consultation; the people that put it together, they knew what they wanted and acted as general contractor.”

While consultation is not a typical occurrence for Urban, it is another example of how the construction organization has learned to adapt to survive. From understanding the intricacies of erecting structures to specializing in a specific pre-engineered steel, everything about the company lends itself to Urban Construction Company’s long-lasting presence and indomitable spirit.

Published on: July 9, 2014

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