VanderWal Homes & Commercial Group

Better Bones Means a Better Building
Written by: 
Kelly Matlock
Produced by: 
Sean O'Reilly

As Canada’s leading cold-formed structural steel specialist, VanderWal Homes & Commercial Group (VanderWal) creates pre-engineered and prefabricated cold-formed steel assemblies and systems with integral accessories in order to provide a one-stop, turnkey framing package to customers nationwide from its location in Petrolia, Ontario.

VanderWal is a serious company on the rise and is set to double its profits by the end of 2015. Founded by Jim VanderWal in 2001, the company continues to benefit from Jim’s nearly four decades in the industry.

Well Positioned to Serve Canada

“I just kept moving forward, a little at a time,” Jim says of founding VanderWal. After 12 years working for someone else, and another decade-plus spent running his initial business, Jim was ready for VanderWal – and so was Canada.

“We go everywhere, from British Columbia in the west to New Brunswick in the east,” says Jim. “We go wherever we’re needed.” The company’s extensive reach is good, because need is great; the economy is booming. Plus, cold-formed steel product is in higher demand as people and authorities increasingly appreciate its uniform quality and understand its potential to add to the safety of buildings over three stories.

The company’s comprehensive design, engineering and fabrication facility allows the team to deliver the highest quality pre-engineered components. In order to provide a turnkey service, the company has every bit of pre-engineered and prefabricated cold-formed steel covered. Thanks to full-coverage abilities, VanderWal keeps busy as it tends to several multiyear projects, all across Canada.

“The second half of 2013 has been great for us,” Jim continues. “Everything is on the upswing.”

Vanderwal is able to handle its broad reach from one location in Ontario. “We’ve tried fabricating and shipping from different locations in Canada, but found it made more sense economically to stick to one dedicated facility,” explains Jim.

Instead, the company pursues a more cost-effective approach of shipping product to its various job sites. These sites, over the years, have included hotels, long-term care homes, casinos, mausoleums, water treatment plants, municipal buildings, custom homes and retail outlets.

The Creation of a Superior Product

At its state-of-the-art fabrication facility, the company manufactures all systems using high-quality galvanized steel components obtained from a number of premium sources; it utilizes self-drilling screws to connect cold-formed steel members. Additionally, sophisticated software suites (i.e., powerful, proprietary design and engineering software) are employed in the creation of comprehensive 3-D models. Cutting-edge technology means adherence to exact measurements and components formed to exacting standards.

VanderWal’s products include: trusses, panelized walls, floors, accessories (clips, bracing, blocking and bridging), pre-insulation treatments and sheathing (fluted structural decking and exterior grade gypsum board. Also, closed-cell polyurethane spray foam insulation can be installed on pre-sheathed cold-formed steel wall or floor panels.

Furthermore, services from VanderWal’s experienced professionals cover customer needs from start to finish. Complete customer service includes preliminary design and consultation, budget estimates, comprehensive project quotations, engineered shop drawings and technical support.

Benefits Abound for Customers

Customers are keen to the fact that cold-formed steel structures offer many benefits, including immediate production to installation and extending all the way to overall lifetime performance of the building, which is slated to be centuries.

First, the production of cold-formed steel is kinder to the environment than competing framing techniques; cold-formed steel is manufactured using Electric Arc Furnaces (EAF) that typically utilize approximately 95 percent scrap or recovered steel. There is zero landfill waste created by VanderWal’s production, as all the excess material is recycled. Furthermore, specifying cold-formed steel on a project can assist the owner in the accruement of LEED points and help secure a LEED certification for a project.

Next, the installation of prefabricated cold-formed steel components can be as much as 75 percent faster than on-site framing efforts, and also reduces the potential for many of the associated errors on jobsites with site-built elements. Also, steel is uniform quality, unlike wood, and integrity is guaranteed.

Lastly, the overall performance of cold-formed steel is exceptional thanks to its durability and imperviousness; it does not crack, shrink, warp or twist, and will help maintain a tight building envelope. It is also hot-dip galvanized for longevity. Additionally, and importantly, it is safe, as a 100 percent non-combustible material. According to Jim, safe also translates to lower insurance premiums for building owners.

Lasting Investment in Quality

Recently, VanderWal has been busy with several water and sewage treatment plant projects in Ontario, in addition to a retirement home for seniors in both northern British Columbia and New Brunswick. This means several of the company’s crews are out and busy. “We’re keeping bread and butter on the table,” laughs Jim. “We subcontract out the installation, and we’ve got at least 40 people on the go right now.” As far as for direct employees, VanderWal keeps 15 expert designers, assemblers and office support at its facility.

According to Jim, it has all come together after 13 years. “We’ve been working hard on this, right from the time we started in 2001,” he continues. “I’ve been in the construction business basically all my life, and I’m lucky, it’s going really well for us here.”

Things look promising for VanderWal Homes & Commercial Group thanks to an investment in a quality cold-formed steel product and work to pre-engineer and prefabricate the bones plus all the trimmings.

Strategic Partnership(s): 
Christie Saccucci Mathews