By Tina Cauller
Flawless Steel Welding was awarded Project of the Year for Class I (under $500,000) for its outstanding performance on a 93,000 sf, three-story parking garage project at the Corbin Park Shopping Center in Overland Park, Kansas.
With the jobsite eight hours away in Kansas, the Denver-based proud minority company mobilized its cranes and two trucks to take on the erection project, but on arrival, the team was surprised to find 678 tons of raw steel sitting on the ground that had been abandoned by the fabricator and a project that was derailed and well behind schedule. The owner, who was beyond distressed by the delay, wanted FSW to grab the architectural and structural drawings and start fabricating.
As Senior Project Manager Roque Acosta explained, “That just isn’t how we do things.” Fortunately, Flawless Steel Welding provides turnkey fabrication and erection services, with in-house Tekla detailing capability, AISC-certified fabricators, and NCCER-trained erectors. After meeting with the EOR and the owner, the FSW team pushed to get changes on connections to speed up erection process going from double welded angles to shear plate bolted connections, once all of this was approver by the structural engineer, FSW immediately began working on the project, by first phasing it out on 4 areas and total 8 sequences to create a 3D model and detailed shop and erection drawings. It took 5 days to get first 2 sequences (Area 1) completed on detail process since this was the most complex location due to it was parking garage ramp, right after that FSW spent 5 more day to get it done completely. After the information gathered was put into Tekla EPM project management software, a fabrication package was created and released so production of connection plates could begin.
Since every column in the parking structure had a different elevation, it was a challenge to do the fabrication and erection onsite. For maximum efficiency, the FSW team sent in a gridline to detail each column individually, then fabricate it and erect it while working on the next line in the office.
García recalls, “To recover lost time, we changed welded connections to bolted connections and created shop prints. The shop guys worked over the weekends to get 600+ connections fabricated and shipped to the jobsite. FSW shipped a 75T Grove truck crane to the site, where 10 team members practically lived in an empty 18,000 sf warehouse to execute the project. The work was divided into eight phases to keep the project progressing smoothly and efficiently, with two weeks devoted to fabricating and erecting the first gridline. The project comprised a total of 327 beams, the majority of which measured 33 x 99’ and weighed 6,039 lbs. and 64 columns ranging from 3,000 to 6,800 lbs. each.”
From the company’s first days, García embraced technology proven to support excellence and efficiency. “We decided from the very start to be a paperless operation and maximize the efficiency of all our activities. Top-of-the-line software such as Tekla Power Fab and Tekla Structures allows us to generate 3D pre-construction models to cover every aspect of the project and obtain accurate takeoffs from the beginning and makes it feasible to offer competitive pricing. Our digital system enables clear communication between our field crew management team and shop, which is essential to the smooth execution of large, complex projects and achievement of a Flawless product. Our technology gives us an advantage against our competitors as we are already at least two weeks ahead on the detailing process once a project is awarded.”
The technology played a significant role in the company’s ability to meet the challenges of this project head-on. “We owe a huge debt of respect to Tekla, which made it possible to generate highly accurate models and bring the whole system together to get this project back on track. It was amazing how well everything flowed ― ultimately, we got the fabrication done in under six weeks and erection completed in three months.”
“The expertise of our team and the way they stepped up to the challenge were also key factors in the success of this project,” notes García. “Roque Acosta, project manager, and Mack Segell, the foreman on site, and Dwayne Guynn, the in-shop foreman all made it possible to execute this project in a safe and timely manner. Also, our safety consultant Brian McClure from Trivent helped our team work safely with 100 percent tie-off and other solid safety policies.”
Víctor García began Flawless Steel Welding during the recession, when steady employment as an ironworker, even one with years of experience, was hard to find. In response to the economic downturn, García set out with a truck and a couple of welders, taking small welding jobs here and there to establish a solid reputation and build name recognition. After about a year, García was able to open the doors to his first location in the same inner-city neighborhood where he grew up.
García viewed the various projects he worked on as opportunities for his dedication to stellar workmanship to shine. His team’s consistently exceptional performance has created opportunities to work for larger contractors. FSW has grown to more than 30 employees and will be moving into a 35,000 sf shop roughly twice the size of their current location, which will allow them to add heavy fabrication equipment and improve efficiency. As well as brought on a key player by the name of Ed Maes as their new Project/Safety Manager on the field erection side of things. Together the management team has over 65 years of seasoned experience.
Flawless Steel Welding instills a ‘mission mindset’ in each of their employees and encourages them to strive for excellence both personally and as a team, because FSW believes that their people are their foundation, and greatest asset. The company ensures outstanding work performance and customer satisfaction by investing in each new employee (affectionately called “Agoges” after the Spartan tradition of educating and training young warriors) through job-specific state-of-the-art training, including attending NCCER’s 3-year apprenticeship program. The training program helps shape new recruits into skilled, knowledgeable, and competent workers able to meet the rigorous standards set by OSHA and NCCER.
“Our people are the backbone of our success. That’s why we choose to invest in them through training, work continually to give them a sense of value, and show our appreciation for their skills and talents in meaningful ways. As a company, we are known for the highest possible standard of quality, and as individuals, we take pride in our work. At the end of the day, we believe our employees perform better because they are happy at work.”
Flawless Steel has set a high bar for quality, and this award is likely to be the first of many recognitions the company will earn. As García points out, “In our company name, we are reminded continually of the standard we’ve set, both for our company and our team ― flawless. Our employees are not just collecting Friday’s paycheck, they are committed to individual and professional success. We serve our community by creating jobs, teaching integrity, and giving our team members an opportunity to learn a respected, rewarding trade. In return, they demonstrate the professional attitude, impeccable craftsmanship, quality products, and on-time schedules that our clients seek and expect.”