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History of metal

image Berger Iron Works has been in business for over a century and credits its knowledge of the industry for its longevity.

HOUSTON - Starting in 1893, Berger Iron Works has seen three different centuries and has kept the lessons from day one to keep the wheels turning on the company.

    President Joe Rigano joined the company 40 years ago and vice president Gary Eckhardt has been there for 45 years, working their way up the ladder.
    “The main things are the continuity of management and hiring of people that hopefully will grow with the company and take care of the company,” Rigano said. “All of our management here cut our teeth and grew with the company.”
    After being in the same building since approximately 1935, Berger moved its operations to a new location at 8107 West Little York Road in Houston in March 2016.
    “It’s a really nice, new facility, so hopefully, if we continue to do the right things Berger can be around for 120 more years,” Rigano said.
    Attention to detail is important in every aspect of construction, and Berger relies on that practice to ensure quality.
    “In our business and all construction, the simple things can become complex and the complex things can made simpler,” Rigano said. “It really has to do with a system that is put in place and adhered to and if the systems is followed, it works.
    “We are more adaptable than most. It really goes into meeting the client’s needs.”
    Having employees who have learned the company from the ground up has allowed Berger to fix problems and to come up with new ideas.
    “We have meetings where no one has the right answer but you get the right people in the same room and throw ideas at it, we come up with a solution with the knowledge we have,” Eckhardt said.  “It has saved us many times.”
    Berger does 98 percent commercial work and the other 2 percent is large residential work with just under 50 em-ployees on staff.
    While some of the technology has changed how Berger gets its blueprints and information, the ability to do the job still comes from knowing the job.
    “For us, when it gets to the shop, it’s not a whole lot different because we’re custom fabricators,” Rigano said. “It’s more of the artist with his equipment. In the drafting and engineering depart-ment, the computer advances are huge differences. The sophistication there is much more advanced. However, it does present other issues.
    “I was talking to a golf pro yesterday, and we were talking about how kids today have a range finder and can tell you within a foot where the pin is located. But, they don’t have a feel for the game. It’s the same with us. We have the tools but we like to train our people from the basics so they understand what exactly they get out of the those tools instead of letting the tools do the work for them.”
    When it comes down to it, no matter what century the work is being done in, the goal remains the same: provide the best product for the client.
    “It’s not a whole lot different,” Rigano said. “The jobs are bigger, the projects are larger but it’s basically the same thing from when Gary and I came in 40 and 45 years ago.  We have clients that have been around a long time…what I’d call the cream of the crop in construction in Houston. They get the jobs that hopefully require a company like ours.”–cs

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Chris Schoonover chris@constructionnews.net