Building it the Wright way
Posted on April 23, 2008 by Sue Marquette Poremba
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Good communication from the beginning of a project to the end is one of the keys to the Wright Building Systems’ success.
“A lot of people may not want to hear about every little detail,” says Jim Wright, company president.
Often those “little” details involve things like doors or windows or particular bolts, things that a customer may take for granted. “But we want to be very thorough when we provide a quote. We want to make sure the customer understands the details so he’s getting what he needs. It’s a lot easier to change things on a contract than it is out in the field.”
Wright’s father, Yates, founded Wright Building Systems, based in Henderson, Tenn., in 1992. Jim joined the business in 1999 and took over as president in 2002.
Yates Wright began in the business as a supplier and opened his company as a metal building distributor. Jim Wright grew up around the construction industry but took his first job in 1981 with a contractor in Arkansas. Over the years, Wright worked for different types of companies and eventually ended up working in sales.
The company works with various building manufacturers, the main supplier being A&S Building Systems, and produces about 30 buildings per year.
“Each manufacturer has particular strengths,” Wright explains. “Which one we turn to depends on the complexities of the job. We use only manufacturers that are members of the Metal Building Manufacturers Association and are also certified under the American Institute of Steel Construction’s Certification Program in Class MB, Metal Buildings.”
Wright Building Systems provides commercial buildings, mostly retail and offices, church buildings and some industrial buildings.
Wright and his staff work only as distributors. Wright says they don’t do any of the general contracting or work with one designated crew. “We have a number of contractors and erectors we can refer, however.”
They do remain involved throughout the entire building project. “There are always a lot of questions,” Wright says. “We need to be there for the customer to make sure everything is to their satisfaction.”
Because it is such a competitive business, Wright says that customers need to be aware of all the details of the building process.
“If all you’re trying to do is provide the very best price in the bid, you risk ruining the quality of the product,” he says. “We tell the customer that they need to compare products and the presentations to make sure that each manufacturer is giving them the same building system. Things like insulation can be included or excluded.”
Also, he adds, the customer needs to be aware of things like wind loads and snow loads. “All those things can vary from product to product,” he says. “The price of the building is really in the details.”
Wright’s job is mostly to be the coordinator. He meets with a potential client to discuss the building and come up with what the customer wants and needs. He makes sure that the client knows exactly what is included in the price and what would be extra.
“Surprises end up costing someone in the long run,” Wright says.
The building is then designed with one of the two metal building manufacturers who draft and engineer the project.
Wright Building Systems has won a number of awards over the years. One award-winning project that Wright is particularly proud of is a riding arena/equine facility designed for handicapped children.
“It’s called Saddle Up,” Wright says. “It is a large clear-span riding arena with horse barn areas and offices. We provided multiple buildings for the project.”
Another outstanding project is Grace Chapel. “It’s got a real pretty red roof with lots of twists and turns. It’s got some hips and valleys, as well as different roof pitches in different areas of the building,” Wright explains. The project also included some retro roofing. “It was built over an existing building, so we had to work around the existing roof.”
The roof, he adds, is what makes this project stand out, because it was more complex than a traditional church building roof. “It had multiple roof lines, and we had to match existing construction. We had to match wall design as well as roof materials.”
Wright Building Systems is currently wrapping up the largest project in the company’s 16-year history, a correctional facility in Tennessee.
“It’s two different buildings,” he says. “One is 80,000 square feet for an adult facility and the other is a 40,000-square foot facility for juveniles.”
Because the building was commissioned by the Tennessee Department of Corrections, it has a lot of complexities not found in other buildings. For example, it has an interior metal panel that is used for security purposes. “All the screws were hidden fasteners.”
The entire project came to $20 million, with the building system itself costing $1.4 million.
“There are a lot of companies out there building the buildings, and a lot of companies out there selling the buildings,” Wright says. “What we have to offer that makes us stand out in the market is our service level and our experience. Our customers work with one contact source throughout the project.”
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