Metal Builder: You draw it, he builds it

Most builders say a favorite aspect of their job is that each day brings something new. Dave Kizer was presented with a job opportunity that sent him searching the Internet.
His company, KizeCo Building Systems, was hired to build an alpaca barn.
“Do you know what an alpaca is?” he asks. “I didn’t know either until I looked it up.” An alpaca is a llama-like animal with hair that grows up to 24 inches. Its wool is more durable than sheep and much more expensive. One alpaca can cost anywhere between $5,000 and $10,000.MB-Kizeco10.jpg
A prized animal needs a prized barn. The building Kizer constructed is 112 feet long and 48 feet wide, with overhangs of 12 feet on each side, 10 Dutch doors along the side of the building, and 14×14 doors at the end. The barn houses a clinic, a mezzanine, offices, a show room, and stalls for the alpacas.
The end result is proof that Kizer’s company lives up to its motto: “If you can draw it, we can build it.”
In addition to the alpaca barn, the St. Joseph, Mo., company constructed the Blue Bird Bus facility in the Chicago area and recently broke ground on a 4,520-square foot metal-building home. These are just a few examples of the types of structures KizeCo Building Systems builds.
Dave Kizer opened his company about eight years ago, after owning another building-related company, Kizer Industries. He works with Gold Key of Excellence Award winner Perka Building Frames because of the frames’ versatility and the company’s location.
“Perka is local,” Kizer says, “so I can use their in-house engineering and drafting.” Kizer likes that he can present a unique idea to Perka’s designers, and they will draw it and build it.MB-Kizeco3.jpg
Kizer employs eight employees on two crews. He says he subcontracts approximately 80 percent of all the work the company does.
Despite the decline in the building boom, metal buildings continue to grow in popularity. In Missouri, Kizer says there has been a 20 percent drop-off in the housing market, yet the metal building industry continues to carry on at a steady pace. He credits that to the fact that customers can buy more building for the money when purchasing a metal building. Another factor is the versatility of the buildings. The structures Kizer builds incorporate glass, brick, stone, and stucco into unique designs to fit any need — like raising and showing alpacas.
This versatility, Kizer says, can be credited to the advances in engineering and drafting technologies. MB-Kizeco5.jpg
“In the past, you could not build and span the way we can today,” he says, adding that when you can span a building up to 280 feet, that’s an engineering feat in itself. Plus, he continues, as young people come into the business out of college, they bring their computer drafting skills and new ideas, and that allows the industry to grow and be innovative.
Kizer’s customers also find that his metal buildings can withstand the severe Midwest weather. His structures remain intact after a heavy snow brings down the roofs of other buildings. His metal buildings have also survived tornados and high winds from severe thunderstorms.
“We had a tornado come through,” says Kizer. “The homes were gone but the metal building I built was still standing.” Its only damage was the loss of some roofing.
“Our buildings are durable and safe,” he adds. “It’s all in the construction.”
Currently, the best markets for metal buildings, at least in Kizer’s business area, are agricultural and rural industries.MB-Kizeco6.jpg
“Farmers all need implement buildings,” Kizer says. “And there are a lot of rural industry buildings like bio-diesel and ethanol plants that are being built.” Houses, too, are in good demand. “Again, people are seeing you can get more house for your money, and with the different facades available, you’d never know it was a metal building.”
One area that has been less active in metal construction is retail centers. “We’re going from shopping malls to strip malls,” Kizer says. “There is still growth in that business, but it is the slowest area of growth.”
Kizer, like most other metal-building companies, saw a slowdown in business when the steel prices increased. But he says that slowdown lasted only a short period of time before business picked up. He believes that people have adjusted to the increases. “It’s not just steel driving up costs,” he adds. “The rise in petroleum and fuel costs adds to the increases, too.”
On the positive side, despite the increase in steel — “the prices are horrible, out of sight,” Kizer says — the availability of steel is good. It might take a little longer to be delivered than it did in the past, but it does arrive and the buildings get built in a timely manner.
This is a good thing because, according to Kizer, 90 percent of all commercial buildings use steel in the construction.
Overall, these are good times in the metal building industry, and Kizer says he plans to be around for a long time to enjoy it. Even though right now he is the only member of his family involved in his business, he will probably hand over the company to his children someday. However, that transaction may come in his will.
“I plan to do this for the rest of my life.”

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