Northern Ontario Construction News special feature
Northern Metal Framing on Manitoulin Island manufactures steel stud and track with modular construction expertise, serving sectors from the mining industry to seniors’ residences.
The company’s 10,000 sq. ft. plant has a 22-station roll former and steel siding machine to produce truss chords and web for roof and floor trusses and steel wall panels.
Frank LaCross, vice-president and general manager, says the business understands northern construction challenges. “Our roof trusses are spaced at 4 ft. off-centre. This makes them cheaper to ship, easier to install and it saves time and money on framing.”
He says although steel framing is cheaper and in many ways easier to use than wood, it can be a challenge to get builders to switch from wood to steel, even in the north when it makes a lot of sense. “With panelized walls systems they can be erected in days rather than weeks and because they aren’t combustible they make a lot of sense in remote locations,” he said.
Northern Metal Framing’s products are ideal for everything from industrial buildings to workforce housing to utility sheds. “We construct our panels with two in. of Styrofoam on the outside and spray foam with foil backing on the inside to create a wall with an R38 value. That’s important in northern locations.”
He says the panels are also prewired in the factory to save time and cut costs on site.
Understanding his staff of 10 is limited in how long they can be on site, LaCrosse says the team spends time training framing crews and construction teams on how to erect modular walls so they can do the work and gain experience themselves.
Non-combustible walls and modular construction ensures additional safety for seniors’ residences, LaCross says. He and his partner, president Bryon Turner, focus on building modular 600, 700 and 800 sq. ft. homes.
They have also developed a six-unit seniors housing concept, run under the direction of a ‘den mother’ who would handle cooking and related tasks, with shared services.