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Pro-Tec Engineered Buildings: Providing State-of-the-art Fabric Buildings
Pro-Tec Engineered Buildings (Pro-Tec) offers a wide range of round-top and gable roof fabric buildings for agriculture and other industries. The South Dakota-based, fourth-generation family-owned company serves primarily the U.S market as a division of Sioux Steel Company (SSC).
“The bulk of our sales for the buildings division has been for agricultural applications,” says Lynn Ziegler, sales manager for Pro-Tec. “The buildings are primarily used for grain and equipment storage or raising livestock.”
Ziegler goes on to explain the buildings are ideal for raising livestock or serving as an indoor riding arena because of the fabric roof membrane. “The fabric allows some sunshine through, providing natural light, while still fully protecting a herd,” he says. “It also remains cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter than traditional or steel barns.”
The buildings that Pro-Tec sells can range in size and style, but are typically an economical solution for the customer because of the reasonable initial cost, lower installation cost and ease of maintenance. While primary use for the company’s buildings is agriculture-related, Ziegler reports there are endless opportunities.
Pro-Tec has sold buildings for salt and sand storage, equipment storage, composting, aircraft hangers, warehousing, hockey rinks, convention and exposition spaces, garages, as well as other various sporting or entertainment events. The widths of the buildings range from 24 feet through 180 feet; these are open-span buildings, which do not require any intermediary support poles or columns. “The lengths of the buildings are infinite,” says Ziegler.
The company continues to keep the diversity of uses in mind as it considers new markets, Ziegler reports. He recently went to a trade show in Florida just to survey the power generation industry and discover new ways to utilize Pro-Tec products. “Our CEO, Scott Rysdon, is very visionary,” says Ziegler. “He is always anticipating what’s the next thing we can do out there.”
Working for a Family Business
Ziegler grew up on a farm in North Dakota, where he still leases out land to farmers. He entered the agricultural equipment industry in 1976 and has worked for various companies leading up to his tenure at SSC. “My heart was in agriculture,” he says, “but not in running a day-to-day farm operation.”
Working closely with Pro-Tec has helped Ziegler stay involved with an industry he’s passionate about. It’s an industry the Rysdon family is passionate about, as well. Phil, Scott’s father and president of SSC, still maintains his prestigious role at age 75. The father-son duo oversees a staff of about 300 employees to sustain an ever-growing business. Scott is intent on delivering quality products with excellent customer service, just as his grandfather and great-grandfather did.
As for Ziegler, he anticipates Pro-Tec will be the last entry on his resume, provided the company continues to see value in his contributions to operation. “I’ve always worked for family-owned companies,” Ziegler says. “Scott has been very good to work for and work with. He’s got a big heart and cares about his employees.”
Ziegler began working for SSC in 2003 as the director of marketing, and was moved to a general sales manager position in 2004. In that position, Ziegler oversaw the sales of multiple divisions, including Grain Bin Storage, Pro-Tec Buildings, Secondary Containment Systems and Livestock Equipment. Ziegler also became a part of the senior staff group in the fall of 2004.
“My sales manager-focus the past couple of years has been on the buildings,” says Ziegler. “We had such excellent growth between 2005 and 2010 in all divisions, I asked for more people to help manage the various divisions. We added more staff so we could continue expanding each of those divisions.”
The team has compiled an impressive resume over the years, with the largest building on Pro-Tec’s project list being a solution for grain storage. The building is about 150 feet wide by 600 feet long. “That’s two football fields long,” says Ziegler. “That will hold about two million bushels of grain.”
Depending on the project, Pro-Tec can have a building produced in two to eight weeks. Ziegler points out that this time frame is contingent on materials the company has in stock versus materials that need to be ordered. Parts used regularly are kept at the manufacturing plant, but if a project requires less common material, production is delayed while the material is delivered.
The buildings are extremely environmentally friendly, a fact Ziegler sees as a selling point as Pro-Tec moves into new industry markets. “In North Dakota, our sister state, we’ve got real large oil production going on up there,” says Ziegler. “We’re getting up into that market. We manufacture what’s called secondary containment systems that are used to go around the oil sites in case the tanks would start to leak. We expect to also grow our Pro-Tec building sales in this area due to the need for quality storage that can be erected faster than traditional steel or other style buildings.”
Ziegler also anticipates Pro-Tec will start exporting buildings more in coming years. Currently, the company sells mostly to Midwest states with some dealers on the East and West coasts selling the products, as well. Ziegler hopes the company can infiltrate markets in Canada, Mexico, South America, Europe and more. “We see a lot more opportunity out there,” he says.
Meeting Market Demands
For Pro-Tec, the economy is less of an issue than the weather. The 2012 growing season was very dry for a lot of the primary region the company serves. “Our staff is about 50 down from where we were in 2011 primarily because we had a real severe drought,” says Ziegler. “Everybody is concerned about moisture next year for growing crops.”
Due to the drought, Ziegler anticipates business may be slower to pick up in 2013 for Pro-Tec. “Farmers and ranchers usually make buying decisions earlier,” he says. “However this year they may be waiting until the crops are coming out of the ground and buying later. Then the pressure will be on us because we’ll have to produce more in a shorter period of time.”
And what Ziegler is referring to as the bright spot, “is that the agriculture economy overall is up,” he details. “Until this year, we’ve had good crops and grain prices are good. Farmers will probably have more income even though a shorter crop was grown this past year because of a better price on grain.”
It is that type of fluctuation in the market that keeps Pro-Tec researching possible opportunities for business. “Scott always feels that you have to have more pots on the stove and looking for more people to invite for dinner,” says Ziegler. “As you seek out more customers and grow relationships, you expand your opportunities.”
As Sioux Steel Company approaches its 100-year anniversary in 2018, the company and its divisions, including Pro-Tec Engineered Buildings continues to evolve and change with the times.