Touted as the sixth oldest architectural/engineering/construction firm in the United States, The Weitz Company (Weitz) has come a long way from its roots as a carpentry shop founded in 1855 in Iowa. Today’s Weitz stakes its long-standing reputation on meeting clients’ needs by forging new construction innovations and technologies in a collaborative manner, pairing trustworthiness with reliability.
After 165 years of experience in an evolving business, the Industrial group specializes in a number of comprehensive services including plant expansions, retrofits, new construction and process equipment installation, while continuing to provide safety, efficiency and cost-effective practices for its trusted clients.
The Weitz Industrial Group (Industrial) has been in the industrial business since 1948 through the acquisition of the Abel-Howe Company in the year 2000. Industrial has established themselves as having: plant services, design-build project delivery and fast-track turnkey construction. Industrial has the ability to self-perform key disciplines of work including demolition, concrete, carpentry, fabrication, steel erection, heavy rigging and lifting, welding and piping.
Weitz Industrial Movers (WIM) was established in 2017 as a division within Weitz Industrial, LLC through the acquisition of Industrial Movers, a company in Galesburg, IL and was relocated to the Industrial office in Davenport, IA. “WIM specializes in equipment removal or replacement in operating industrial facilities throughout the U.S. and we hit some good strides in the past couple of years, becoming members of the SC&RA (Specialized Carriers & Rigging Association) in 2018,” explains Brock Gladwin, Project Manager at Industrial in Cedar Rapids.
“A lot of the companies I’ve worked with throughout my career have continued to reach out to us to handle the heavy rigging aspects of projects and it’s taken off from there,” says Senior Superintendent Rick Storjohann. “WIM specializes in machinery moving, heavy rigging, lifting equipment, setting and installation, precision alignment, transportation and logistics, NCCO certifications and certified welding.”
“Since inception, the Industrial group has executed work for industry leading clients in the processing and manufacturing segments” says Jesse Hammes, Director of Projects & Business Development.
“Plant maintenance, improvements and retrofits is where Industrial excels: going into an existing operational facility and working around ongoing operations throughout the year and during holidays, shutdowns and outages helping them overhaul and improve their business during times when most people want to be at home with family” says Hammes. “For our clients, the beat goes on as they make money off their facilities operating while maintaining uptime and efficiency.”
Industrial and WIM complete projects from coast to coast and north to south across the U.S. for Industrial clients. Their experienced teams conduct extensive pre-planning efforts to minimize and eliminate disruptions to operations while in parallel coordinating efforts for ideal phasing and sequencing for removal and replacement of equipment. The company’s experienced craftsmen also specialize in the precision alignment of pumps, motors, machine trains and monument installation.
Of course, this highly skilled team not only prioritizes clients and quality service, but Safety as well. “Safety is priority one,” says Jeff Leonard, Project Executive. “Having people return home in the same condition or better than they showed up for work each day is imperative. We have to maintain a very high safety performance.” The company works very hard to focus on keeping employees engaged with its slogan of “All-In.” Sending a positive message to its employees that Weitz is indeed “All-In” including being committed to safety, being responsive, and bolstering the company culture.
Many industrial clients, he adds, have a hurdle that prevents experts in this space from working with them due to their stringent performance indicators tied to recordables and lost time injuries. “Just the years of experience that the guys have here in industrial movers, they bring a lot of experience to the table, and what we may see as something dangerous that makes some of us nervous in the course of construction, they’ve got a very good comfort level with it,” says Gladwin. “They’ve been doing it for many years; you send certain guys out into the field and they know what they’re doing. They’ve been through it multiple times. They’re very good at what they do.”
Challenges the team faces include not only growing the business, but finding the right skilled staff and craftworkers for the job and continuing to educate customers and the industry on the Industrial service offerings provided by Weitz.
WIM has also found success in working with and supporting Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) and in being the preferred installation and maintenance contractor for multiple OEMs, particularly in the foundry, process and manufacturing industries, adds Storjohann.
“OEMs help us to sustain and provide a pipeline of work for us,” says Gladwin. “Our goal is to be their go-to installer and have them call Rick for help. We’d like to be considered: the go-to for rigging and installation or maintenance and retro purposes.”
“Finding the right complement of workers who want to travel can also prove challenging. The Industrial business entails being on the road to working facilities all over the U.S., so finding the right people who want to be mobile and balancing that with future growth can be difficult. Regarding growth, Industrial has very high aspirations to do more of what they’re currently doing, with a broader mix of clients and continued diversification in markets as we grow our business,” says Leonard.