Cover Story: Britespan Building Systems, Inc. MORE THAN STRUCTURE Britespan Provides Innovative Building Solutions

Published on Tue, 01/06/2015 - 1:05pm

Ben Hogervorst, President of Britespan Building Systems, Inc. (Britespan), and his wife, Jenny, have been involved in agriculture for their entire lives, first as feed dealers, and then becoming part of the fabric building industry. In 1994, they became dealers for Cover-All Building Systems, because it seemed a natural solution for customers who were in need of hay, straw or hog finishing facilities. “By 1999, we sold the feed business and focused entirely on the fabric building business,” says Hogervorst. When Cover-All went into receivership in spring of 2010, Ben created Britespan with partner Rob Stute, a local millwright. Over the past four years, Britespan has experienced rapid growth and success and has become an industry leader in providing innovative agricultural building solutions, expanding in markets across North America.

The Britespan Way
As president of Britespan, Hogervorst says the “Britespan Way” is about engaging the customer. “It is truly about listening to our customers. They will make suggestions to their local dealers, who then share those ideas with our engineering and development department. Many of the building innovations that we offer originated from a request or custom requirement of one of our customers.” Hogervorst notes, “Our customers are helping drive our innovations.”
Most recently that innovation was the creation of a 10-foot leg designed for the new Atlas 52 L-10 model. This model was specifically designed to allow greater clearance for overhead doors, provide greater ventilation for livestock barns, and especially for under-building eaves so that feeding equipment can easily operate beneath it.
Another customer and subsequent innovation was the design of a 5' eave (overhang) that covered feed bunks outside the building. This allows maximum number of head per building, and minimizes the cost per head for the building.
Britespan buildings are pre-engineered in clearspan widths up to 160 feet and can be manufactured to any length, with post-welding hot dip galvanized trusses for superior rust protection. As for the covers, the thermally non-conductive properties help ensure a warmer environment in the winter and a cooler environment in the summer. The covers have translucent properties that allow natural daylight into the building, thus eliminating the need for daytime artificial lighting. “These qualities also offer a much better environment for the animals resulting in improved average daily gain and reproductive cycling,” says Hogervorst.

The Britespan Difference
One of the differentiating features of Britespan products that benefits all customers is the fact that the trusses are hot dip galvanized “after” all the welding is completed. Customers need to be aware of this and understand why it is important for them. Most companies take the easy path and purchase the cheaper “pre-galvanized” steel. Then they weld the trusses together, burning off the galvanizing inside and outside the pre-galvanized pipe. The pipe on the outside is then sprayed with a galvanizing spray leaving the inside of the pipe burnt and raw. The net result of this is that the truss rusts from the inside out. Britespan does absolutely no welding to the steel truss once it is hot dip galvanized, leaving no chance to rust as with using the pre-galvanized steel.

Return on Investment
Hogervorst understands that the bottom line — the Return On Investment (ROI) — is a major factor when producers decide whether to build a new structure or not. Sometimes, producers want to add on to existing buildings. “There are a lot of Cover-All buildings across North America. Although Britespan designed its Atlas models heavier and stronger than the Cover-All brand, it engineered those models in such a way that they could easily be added onto the existing Cover-All buildings. This is a great feature for Cover-All owners that want to expand or lengthen their buildings. This also improves the usability of those Cover-All buildings and their ROI.

Local Dealer Network
Britespan also prides itself on their strong dealer network. “Our dealers are local to the customers, allowing them to have a better understanding of the geographical conditions of that particular area, and allowing us to provide better and faster customer service. We have been told by many customers that their dealers are knowledgeable, always there when they need them, and make sure that the projects are completed in a timely manner.”
With an extensive and knowledgeable dealer network that covers North America, Britespan dealers are able to take a personal interest in their customers. The dealers are located in the same state and are able to come to the site and work directly face-to-face with the customers, better understanding their needs and making sure that the project is completed to the customers’ satisfaction. Some companies sell directly to the customer and may be cheaper to begin with but then give no after-sale service. “I have spoken to many customers that are still sitting on their non-erected building a year after the purchase because they were not able to get anyone to construct their building.” Hogervorst says.

A Dealer’s Perspective
Mike Wimmer, Dealer Manager for Britespan in the United States, echoes those sentiments. “Our dealers pride themselves in building relationships with their customers. To them, it’s more than just a sale. We want our dealers to stay engaged with the customers from the time the design is chosen, through the building process and after completion.”
Wimmer notes that Britespan buildings offer an optimum cow-comfort atmosphere. The buildings allow for better respiratory health due to the continuous air movement, which also keeps it much dryer and reduces the amount of bedding that is needed, resulting in cleaner cattle which will often times bring higher sales cost at market.
The natural lighting provided by the fabric has a calming effect on cattle, which makes them less skittish and comfortable. At a recent open house attended by 160 people, those in attendance were able to witness the positive results of the natural lighting. The cattle remained calm and stayed at the rail despite the activity in the feed lane. Wimmer finds the natural daylong lighting provided by the covers significantly cuts the electrical expenses, while at the same time once again addressing the positive cow-comfort atmosphere.
Wimmer says the Britespan buildings have been a big success for beef farmers across North America. “Daily gain in a fabric beef building often averages 4 pounds per day versus 3-3.5 pounds per day in a conventional building. This is often accomplished with 1/3 less feed due to the atmosphere of the building,” he says.
Success Stories
Kyle Hotz of rural Lone Tree, Iowa, has a 50' x 224' cow/calf barn with two 5' eaves, a 224' curtain and weather-tight vents on top. “We had looked a long time and looked at a lot of options. Then we went with Friedman Distributing, Inc., located in Belle Plaine. From our research, we liked the way the buildings are constructed, their quality and the fact that Britespan would tailor the building to what we wanted. We worked with Justin Adams and Dan Friedman, the owner of Friedman Distributing. They were both great to work with and took care of everything from the initial design to the end of construction.”
Brian Weidner of Newton, Illinois, chose to go with a 52' x 210' Atlas series building and is impressed with the durability of the Atlas series. “Everything I read was positive. The company has a good track record: the building is built to last. I worked with Kevin Woods, sales representative for Effingham Animal Health Company, and everything went very smoothly. It didn’t take long to put up. The building is so efficient, but at the same time, the concept is so simple.”
With satisfied customers such as these and the most extensive and knowledgeable dealer network in the industry, it is no wonder that more and more producers are turning to Britespan Building Systems, Inc., for their building needs!