DEAN STEEL BUILDINGS,INC. ❖ Left to right, the Metallic Building Company representative, Charles and Robert Dean sign the dealership contract in 1968. Dean Steel Buildings, Inc., is the largest manufacturer of metal building systems in Florida and continually works to increase its market share by providing outstanding customer service and experience in high-wind building designs. With annual sales of $15 million and climbing, Dean Steel Buildings, Inc., employs ninety to 100 people at facilities in Fort Myers; Cedartown and Thomasville, Georgia; and San José, Costa Rica. Principal customers are contractors and metal building installers throughout the Southeast United States and the Americas as well as direct sales to government agencies and end-use customers. The genesis for all this success goes back to Robert “Bob” Dean, a welder and son of a welder, who owned and operated a welding shop on Anderson Avenue in Fort Myers. In the early 1950s, Bob began selling and erecting pre-engineered metal buildings throughout the southern half of Florida, including the Florida Keys. Originally called Bob Dean Steel Buildings, Inc., the company purchased and installed metal buildings manufactured by Stran-Steel Buildings. His youngest son, Charles, a mechanical engineer, joined his father in the business in 1967, earned a contractor’s license, and with his father continued the practice of selling and erecting pre-engineered metal buildings. The company’s growth was not without obstacles. In the late 1960s, the City of Fort Myers refused to issue permits for metal roofs to be used on commercial buildings. Charles had to convince the head city building officials that if metal roofs were good enough for the early settlers—such as Thomas Edison and Henry Ford—they should be good enough for commercial buildings of that time. By 1971, operating under the name Dean Steel Buildings, Inc., the company purchased and installed metal buildings made primarily by Metallic Building Company. The company did so well that between 1970 and 1972, Dean Steel Buildings, Inc., was the largest volume builder in the country for Metallic Building Company. In 1973, Charles purchased the business from his father and was immediately confronted with a problem: A steel shortage forced Metallic Building Company to cancel orders placed by the company and other builders it worked with. To his credit, Charles saw an opportunity rather than just a problem and began traveling the state to meet with builders and ask them if they would buy from him if he started producing his own building line. The overwhelmingly positive response he received put Dean Steel Buildings in the manufacturing business for good. In 1985 the State of Florida mandated that all Florida counties develop a land-use plan that eventually required every commercial building in the state to go through a long permitting process. This occurred at the same time the economy began slipping into a recession. To remain competitive, a major modernization of equipment and processes began in 1988, including the use of computer-aided drafting and the ability to electronically move information from drafting directly to the manufacturing machines. All work was done in-house, a process that continues to this day, allowing the company to be self-sufficient and highly efficient in its industry sector. It was about this time that Charles’ wife, Karen Dean, daughters, Nanette Dean, Julie Dean Fisher, Jeanie Dean Richards, Charlotte Dean Edwards, and sons-in-law Ken Fisher and Jeff Richards joined the organization in various roles. They joined Charles and Bob, who continued to work in a support role until Bob’s death in 2006. In 1992, while the rest of the industry went to China or India, the company started an engineering and drafting office in San José, Costa Rica. In a time when the Internet was still in its fledgling stage, Dean Steel Buildings was transmitting digital drawings and material lists through commercial servers in California.
Today, Dean Steel Buildings, Inc., is a member of the Metal Building Manufacturers Association, is certified ISO 9001, and accredited to AC-472. Achieving ISO 9001 certification has allowed the company to focus its operations on: • Customer satisfaction, providing products with the highest quality standards possible. • Problem-solving techniques and continuous improvement of systems, procedures, products, and people. • Teamwork, continual training, and employee support. With the company’s innovative systems, advanced computer-aided design and manufacturing technology, there is no limit to its creativity. Dean Steel Buildings, Inc., has become the modern, economical form of construction for practically every building application. From large commercial and industrial facilities to neighborhood shopping centers, office buildings, commercial banks, and even private homes. The company has four decades of hands-on experience in every component and every system it produces. Its tradition of quality and reliability, combined with design flexibility and personalized service, allows Dean Steel Buildings to enjoy an outstanding reputation among architects and contractors. The company believes competence can only be achieved if the organization is capable of managing the training needs of its staff. The company makes every employee directly involved in each step of the process because it depends on its people, their experience, abilities, and knowledge. As for the future, Dean Steel Buildings, Inc., plans to welcome the next generation into this family owned business as Charles and Karen’s grandchildren join the company. Dean Steel Buildings, Inc., will continue providing the quality service and products its customers have come to expect while evolving into a more customer-centered business using social media and Internet advertising. As a result of these efforts and more, Dean Steel Buildings, Inc., is positioned to grow its business as the communities in which it operates grow. ❖ Top, left: McArthur Farms. Top, right: Roi’s Bar-B-Que Restaurant. Above: Dollar General Store.