Each year the National Frame Building Association presents its highest honor to an individual who has demonstrated exemplary service to the post-frame industry.
The Bernon G. Perkins Award, named after a pioneer of the post-frame industry who furthered the pole building’s evolution from a temporary structure into a long-lasting one, was presented to Henry Getz on March 10 at the 2016 Frame Building Expo in Indianapolis.
Henry Getz began his career working at his father’s company, Interlocking Fence Company of Morton, Illinois. Interlocking Fence Company started as a mail-order farm supply company providing fencing and other items needed by farm families. The company later offered a Quonset-style building with a laminated arched rib covered with galvanized sheeting. Seeing the potential in another style of building, Getz began moving the company into post-frame construction.
From the start, Henry constantly sought the “something extra” to offer customers, and in the early 1950s he introduced one of his most important innovations: the addition of color to otherwise plain galvanized sheet-metal buildings.
Though he was told farmers would never pay more for color, Henry pressed ahead. The first color introduced was stained red and incorporated into the gable trim. Soon after, the company added the option of using colored trims for sliding doors, beginning with red trim and track.
As post-frame construction gained popularity, the Quonset-style building was discontinued, and Henry and Interlocking Fence Company began constructing the post-frame structures familiar today.
Believing that color was spurring the industry’s growth and offered an opportunity to expand into the commercial building market, Henry sought out builders interested in transitioning to a painted steel panel. The assembly of a like-minded group was part of an effort to decrease the cost for all involved parties. Although this effort was ultimately unsuccessful, Henry persevered and began offering painted steel panels himself. His advertising at the time strikingly compared a building without color on the roof to a mannequin without hair!
Beyond color, Henry also introduced the raised-cord truss, which allowed a taller end door on the very popular machine-storage buildings. This option is offered by nearly all builders today.
Henry even took his advocacy for post-frame construction to Washington when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency considered eliminating chromated copper arsenate as a preservative. In an effort to protect this very effective option for post-frame construction, he and many other industry professionals succeeded in winning approval for the continued used of CCA for post-frame construction even while it was being voluntarily discontinued for residential use.
Henry served as a visionary, leading our industry into new areas for many years until his retirement from active involvement at Morton Buildings. Many of the innovations that benefit the industry today are rooted in Henry’s willingness to take risks and advocate for the post-frame building system.