Valley Building Systems
Valley Building Systems (VBS) has been in business since the 1980s, starting out as a small custom builder of commercial, industrial and agricultural structures. Based in Little Chute, Wisconsin, the company serves customers throughout the state as well as Michigan. The business employs 85 people out of the home office as well as a shop in Stratford, Wisconsin and a small facility in Kewaunee, Wisconsin. Steve Dax leads the team, serving as manager of the building division and head of sales for the business.
Dax began his career in the construction industry right out of high school. “I tried working an indoor job, but I kept staring out the door,” he recalls. “I love working outside.”
With an associate’s business degree in building design, as well as experience as a carpentry journeyman, Dax offers a strong balance of expertise and experience to his crews. He spent 14 years in the residential sector building homes before joining the business in 1991 and notes that he prefers VBS’s custom approach to commercial building over any work he has ever done.
Dax and his team have built success through custom construction. Over the years, the business has established a reputation for unique design-build work for clients, which include industrial processors, commercial shops and agricultural operations among others. “Our target market is pretty broad,” Dax explains. “We always say that we build by the inch not the foot. We are customer service oriented, whether we are constructing a small garden shed or a large commercial plant.”
To deliver a high quality end product, VBS fully engineers each and every project. The design process takes into account the aesthetic and functional needs of clients as well as environmental factors such as end use and climate. For example, in the upper Midwest, the company’s service area is subject to a significant amount of snow each year. Especially with larger commercial buildings, snow load can present a major risk for end users; so all building frames and envelopes are designed to hold up to the harsh winter elements.
The company’s growing portfolio includes a range of high-quality commercial projects, including work for Salm Partners LLC in Denmark, Wisconsin. VBS constructed the commercial sausage producer’s first processing plant several years ago. Over time, the client has called VBS back twice to construct large additions to accommodate growth. In winter 2014, the crew constructed a 40,000-foot expansion for the business.
Other recent work includes a project in Michigan for DeSaegher Investments LLC, a large, growing dairy farm. The project included the construction of seven calf barns, seven transition barns, a pasteurizing building and a special needs barn addition.
The crew also completed work at another site belonging to the business, paving the way for another 4,000-cow dairy facility. The company remains busy with upcoming work for Scott’s Industrial Coating. In 2015, VBS will be designing and constructing an addition for the company’s plant to house a new powder coat system.
While VBS faced many of the same challenges as other contractors throughout the recession, the business was able to continue steady growth through diversification. With a broad scope of capabilities and a large target market, the team was able to pick up enough work to stay busy. As the market gradually recovers, however, the business is facing new challenges.
“Over the next few years, I see the company continuing to grow,” Dax notes. “The challenges are that you have to grow on all fronts and keep up with everything. Our largest hurdle now is securing the right manpower and keeping them.” To combat this issue, VBS has taken it head-on, utilizing outreach and building relationships with trade schools, tech schools and high schools to feed new employees into the business. VBS trains employees in-house, providing hires with the skills necessary to perform up to the company’s standards of quality.
While Dax has struggled to increase the staff of the business, he claims that the employees he does have are the company’s greatest assets. “The people I get to work with, from the company owner, Joe Gries, to the people on our crews are really great,” he explains. “Everybody makes a solid team effort here and nobody is better or more important than anybody else. I look forward to going to work everyday with them.”
Over the coming years, the company’s strong staff and diverse qualifications will allow VBS to continue growing. Dax sees the economy picking up throughout the region and is looking forward to taking on new opportunities in custom construction. As it has for over a quarter century, Valley Building Systems will continue to offer high-quality customized building solutions to commercial customers throughout Wisconsin and Michigan.
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