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Guard-All Building Solutions

The Fabric Structure Advantage

Although Guard-All’s buildings utilize fabric walls, the structures must still meet standard building codes. All site requirements must be carefully considered, including the wind load, snow load, and occupancy levels. In fact, in order to meet local and State loading requirements, the frame of a Guard-All building is often heavier than a frame used for conventional construction. The company’s tension fabric buildings are designed for permanent placement, though the nature of their design allows them to be employed as temporary structures. All of the things that a conventional building has to comply with, we have to comply with,” explains Peter Bielefeld, Executive Director of Global Distributor Sales for Guard-All. “It’s basically a soft sided building.”

However, there are several key advantages that set the company’s fabric structures apart from a conventional building. Perhaps most importantly, Guard-All’s structures can be erected extremely quickly – often in just a few days. “Fabric can go on so much faster,” Mr. Bielefeld points out. “A steel building has about a million screws to fasten on all those panels. We install fabric in large modular sections, making the construction fast and very efficient in terms of labour costs.” Remarkably, a 15,000 square foot building can be installed in just one week. “Our customers are amazed at how quickly these buildings go up. After months and months of planning, obtaining financing and permitting, the customer is really happy to have a building pop up seemingly overnight,” Mr. Bielefeld laughs.

Fabric buildings can also be used on a site where it would not be practical or permissible to build a conventional structure. The site might be an environmentally sensitive area, for example, or a brownfield location that has yet to be remediated, making conventional construction difficult or impossible. And, when a fabric building is no longer needed, “you can just pack it up and take it away,” Mr. Bielefeld explains. “You take the screw anchors away, put it back on the truck, drive it away and it’s done. There is no damage or environmental impact from the structure. There is just nothing to worry about.”

These factors make fabric buildings particularly well suited to military, oil and gas, and mining applications, where rapid deployment is often required. In fact, the team has recently opened a second office in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan to be located near “the epicentre of mining, oil and gas,” Mr. Bielefeld reports. “It is a very important place to be right now. There is so much going on here it’s unbelievable.” Currently, the company is in the process of designing and manufacturing fabric buildings for resource sector clients across Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia, North Dakota, and Montana.

Engineered Solutions

Guard-All’s ability to design its fabric buildings sets the company apart. “Our expertise is based heavily on the engineering side,” Mr. Bielefeld says. “That is one of our competitive advantages.” The team works closely with clients to create a structure that will specifically meet their individual needs and the needs of the site. From the moment a client expresses interest, the team will begin to work toward a solution. “This involves doing everything from custom frame designs to renderings to custom drawings,” Mr. Bielefeld explains. Typically, clients would have to pay a consultant for these services, but Guard-All provides this upfront work for free. “As a result, we are able to demonstrate that we have the capabilities and the wherewithal to handle the project. We build confidence in the client by giving them all the information they need. That way they can make a very informed decision and they can be confident that we know what we are doing.”

Taking control of the project from the beginning also allows the Team to put safety and quality first. The Team summarizes this guiding philosophy as the “Five P’s” – Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance.

The KwikBuild Series is one of Guard-All’s most innovative recent designs. “There are a lot of smaller structures out there in the marketplace available at varying price points, but none of them are actually engineered to meet site requirements – they are non-engineered structures,” Mr. Bielefeld explains. “So we thought that it would be a good idea to offer clients a product line [of smaller structures] that are fully engineered, yet still have these features of portability and rapid deployment.”

The KwikBuild series’ single tube arch and gable buildings are specially designed for simple, speedy installation using only a minimal crew and without the need for heavy equipment. The company also provides a variety of pre-engineered foundations for the KwikBuild Series including concrete, screw pile, shipping container, and steel post, simplifying the process even further. And, even though these buildings are smaller than most of Guard-All’s offerings, the KwikBuild Series still meets the most rigorous safety requirements and are regulated by building codes just like the company’s larger structures. “We take all of the issues away,” Mr. Bielefeld summarizes of the new product line. As a result, the KwikBuild Series provides an ideal solution for temporary or permanent vehicle and equipment storage.

The KwikBuild Series has been particularly beneficial to small businesses looking to grow. “These buildings are becoming very popular because there are a lot of businesses that would like to expand, but the uncertain economy of the last several years weighs heavily on their decisions.” The KwikBuild Series provides an inexpensive, low risk option that traditional construction could never provide. “The cost effective and temporary nature of the KwikBuild structures allows a business owner the benefit of having a building that will retain its value and can be recapitalized down the road.”

In fact, a small business owner doesn’t even have to purchase a KwikBuild building outright. They may be leased through Guard-All’s network of leasing agents, slashing the risk to the small business almost completely. “They can put them up without digging into their pockets. They can have them for just a monthly payment,” Mr. Bielefeld reports. In short, the KwikBuild Series offers the sturdiness and security of traditional construction without the cost or commitment.

Because the KwikBuild series is easily installed and uninstalled, the structures are a favorite among businesses that frequently change locations. “For example, one of my satisfied clients runs a small business winterizing boats. He installs his structure in an empty lot to instantly create a garage. Then, once the season has passed in a particular area and all the boats are winterized, he can easily move on to another empty lot in another climate zone. He is able to pack all that up and move to another location where there will be business,” Mr. Bielefeld reports. “How could you do that with any other type of structure?”

Skillful Leadership

Guard-All’s success can be traced back to the talent and dedication of its leaders. CEO and Chairman Dot Haymann founded the family owned business in 2009 after many years of success in the fabric structure industry. Most notably, Ms. Haymann founded Sun Ports International in 1991, which eventually became a division of USA Shade and Fabric Structures – a company that has built over 250,000 fabric structures around the world and is the largest fabric structure manufacturer in North America.

Ms. Haymann, along with her husband Basil, has brought this wealth of experience – and can do attitude – to Guard-All. “They have both been incredibly successful in their business ventures throughout their lives,” Mr. Bielefeld points out. “And, they walk the walk. They are both the first people at work in the mornings and the last ones to leave. They have so much energy and so much enthusiasm and it spreads throughout the whole organization.”

The Haymanns are now leading the company into an exciting future. Guard-All continues to grow and expand its product line and has a number of plans for the future. “First on the list will be a move into the aviation industry. The company’s larger sized, cost efficient fabric buildings are ideal for airplane hangars,” Mr. Bielefeld explains. “And that is only the beginning. There is no use looking in the rear view mirror. We are keeping our eyes on the road ahead. And we see nothing but opportunity.”

July 19, 2018, 3:33 PM EDT

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