Structured growth

Since its foundation in 1992, Suncor Inc has built a solid reputation in the market for structural steel fabrication thanks to its strong performance and customer-centric approach to business. As such, the company has provided structural steel to a wide range of industries and buildings, working on notable projects such as industrial buildings, airport expansions, medical buildings, offices and schools to name a few.

Looking back at the early days of Suncor Inc is Managing Director Doug Kuiper: “The initial focus on any start-up company is survival. Creating cash flow and selling the first contract is always difficult. My personal background is within the engineering sector as well as drafting related to structural steel fabrication so I used these skills to generate income. Once this was accomplished, I started bidding on small jobs in Florida and other regions; the next challenge was to establish a location where we could successfully create a market for fabricated structural steel. After experimenting with three different regions we settled on southeast Florida where we found a stronger demand for our goods and services. From there I partnered with other steel fabrication companies who preferred to work on a labor only basis outside the region to produce the products we sold; once a market for steel products had been created, I was able to back away from the technical side and manage the projects. About three years later, I was able to increase my staff and increase our volume.”

It is in this Tri-County region of Southeast Florida where Suncor Inc. created a loyal and returning customer base. This is attributed to its focus on meeting customer requirements in an efficient and quality-centric manner, as Doug notes: “In those early days, once we had increased our staff and volume, rather than booking more contracts I focused on maintaining the same quantity of contracts but sought larger contract amounts. After we survived five years in operation, I felt confident we would be a successful company. I believe we have maintained this success because of our focus on solidifying customer relationships; 43when it comes to priorities this is placed highest on the list because happy customers will be repeat customers. I believe that profitability will take care of itself with a strong and returning client base.” A year later, Suncor built offices in DeForest, Wisconsin and Hialeah, Florida. These premises were not purchased until Suncor Inc., which was developed around a zero-debt strategy, had the money to build them in 2007 and 2008 respectively.

Diverse markets
To further enhance operations, the company established a sister company, National Metals, in June 2009. Handling the manufacturing of specialty metal products, National Metals is certified by the American Institute of Steel Construction.

“Since our inception and up until 2008 our primary market was providing structural steel for public schools, mostly K-8 and high schools; however, after the bank collapse, this all changed,” says Doug. The public school market began a depressed phase from which it still has not recovered. Suncor Inc has since diversified its markets to retain a well balanced customer base spread out over many sectors.

“Even though the public school market has not returned, we have seen an increase in the amount of charter schools being built over recent years. There are a number of reasons for this increase in charter schools, for one thing, some parents want to be more involved and this offers the opportunity to be. Moreover, these schools also offer teachers the chance to be more innovative, so this has a strong appeal to certain faculties as well as students who have a strong interest in a certain area; these students will also be attracted to these programs such as science, technology, engineering or math (STEM). We feel that building charter schools will represent around 20 per cent of our volume over the next several years and perhaps longer.”

He continues: “Nevertheless, based on our learning experience from 2008, we realize nothing lasts forever. For the health of the firm, it is important for Suncor to remain in many different markets rather than focus on just one or two. We are currently offering structural steel products in the areas of aviation, healthcare, public and private schools, gaming, industry and hotels.”

Although Suncor has developed its reputation on expertise within structural steel fabrication, providing the foundation for retail facilities, office expansions and so on, the company has also mastered the finer art of this complex process. Indeed, not only can it handle huge construction projects, Suncor is also capable at delivering smaller, customized specialty projects that require unique and intricate details. Products created by the company include specialty canopies, custom rails, egg crate grilles, perforated metal rails, pan stairs with picket rails, sun shades and aluminum walkways.

Technology investment
While diversification of market segments and services has financially strengthened and cemented Suncor Inc’s role as a structural steel fabricator to trust, the company is also keen to stay ahead of the competition through larger structural steel projects in New England, where steel is the building material of choice as opposed to concrete that is prevalent in the southern states,” Doug concludes.

Suncor Inc
Services: Steel fabricator and provider of structural steel products