A Framework of Quality
Contrast Metalworks LLC delivers steel fabrication for high-profile projects
When it comes to delivering quality steel structures, the sky’s the limit for Contrast Metalworks LLC. The company specializes in fabrication and erection of structural and non-structural steel as well as steel stairs and handrails for residential, commercial and industrial applications.
Headquartered in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, the family-owned business is celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2019.
According to Greg Rosenberger Jr., CEO, the company focuses on structural framing for developers. The company commonly works on multiuse/multibuilding projects, hotels and motels, apartments and condominium buildings, retail and parking structures. Customers include construction contractors, general contractors, owners and developers in Eastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. Contrast Metalworks strives to offer turnkey structural and miscellaneous packages to its clients.
From Horses to High-Rises
Greg, along with his brothers Ben Rosenberger, President of Administration, and Justin Rosenberger, head of field operations, grew up working on their grandfather’s 45-acre horse farm in Perkiomenville, Pennsylvania, caring for the horses before and after school. That experience is the foundation of their work ethic. All three joined the ironwork trade and learned all aspects of the industry, starting in industrial millwork and later transitioning to structural steel work.
“Our grandfather and his brothers had their own meat business. We always admired what they did and how they were able to provide for their families because of it. Our dream was to do the same,” Greg says.
In 2009, the three brothers bought a welder and installed it in Ben’s basement. At first, they made and installed railings after work and on weekends. Then they landed their first structural job in Philadelphia. With the support of family and friends, they made the leap to full-time business ownership.
That first structural project fabrication was completed in a field under an oak tree. “We rigged our welding machine to the tree so it couldn’t be stolen and also used it to flip heavy beams. It was a very humble beginning!” Ben recalls. The brothers were able to lease a small fabrication shop the following year.
As business grew, Contrast Metalworks purchased and moved into a 45,000-square-foot facility, which today serves as the company headquarters. This building was set up for large steel fabrications. All fabrication bays are serviced by overhead cranes with 10- to 25-ton capacities.
A Commitment to Customers
“We put time in with our customers to understand the nature of what they’re building and how they are trying to build it,” Greg says.
The company recently completed a project for motor sports retailer Crossroad Powersports in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania. The owner wanted to build a second story above his one-story retail space but stipulated that the business could not close during construction.
To keep the retailer open required significant coordination. Contrast Metalworks worked closely with the customer to plan the work, building 70-foot-long clear span trusses over the existing building, moving motor bikes out of harm’s way and building through—and on top of—the original roof. The company took many safety measures, including coordinating work performance in designated areas above limited sections of the building while customers and employees were present.
The second story was completed with minimal business interruptions. “Our customers’ success is our success,” Greg says.
Greg spends significant time with customers during the design stage of projects to value engineer the construction process. He discusses approaches to the work and options to reduce fabrication time and meet budget needs. “We were able to value engineer a customer’s 400-ton project down to a 300-ton project that better fit their budget. The customer took that budget to the bank and now has several additional projects lined up,” Greg says.
High-Profile, Challenging Projects
Contrast Metalworks has worked on several high-profile jobs and challenging projects, including completion of the entire structural miscellaneous package for the retrofit of the 25,000-square-foot Fillmore Philadelphia. “Every room we completed was left exposed, showing all of the structural steel and rails. It showcases our capabilities,” Ben says.
Contrast Metalworks fabricated and erected the structural steel for the largest modular building in Philadelphia to date, located at 4125 Chestnut Street, a large multifamily residential development. “We set the structural steel and the hollow core planking in 2018. Because we previously did great work erecting steel for the customer, we were asked to do the plank work, and we did so successfully,” Greg says. The company continues to do structural plank work for other projects and clients.
The company is currently on the job at Liberty Square in the Northern Liberties neighborhood of Philadelphia. “It’s a unique project, built for work, play and living, with public spaces to hang out and relax in,” Greg says. The company recently finished work on the second phase of The Hub at 31 Brewerytown, located at North 31st Street and Master Street in Philadelphia, a multibuilding, multiuse project that features luxury apartments.
Improving Turnaround Time
The company has steadily acquired technology and automation equipment, including a beam line, angle clipper and a burn table.
“Automation hasn’t replaced jobs in our shop; it has actually created new jobs,” Ben says. “Each time we’ve added automated machines, we’ve increased productivity on our fabrication floor. This translates into a faster turnaround time for our customers on projects and, ultimately, allows us to do more projects.”
Contrast Metalworks recently added a 10-foot by 20-foot burning table that processes plates from 1/8-inch to 12-inches thick. The team is also excited about its new Ocean Avenger CNC Beam Drill Line from Peddinghaus. The equipment drills beams up to 40 inches tall and 60 feet long. This CNC machine is capable of processing most steel shapes on the market.
Working with Crews
Justin works side by side every day with Contrast Metalworks field crews. “Our customers tell us they have never seen owners do this,” Greg says. “It’s how we do business and one of the things that sets us apart.”
Employees appreciate this dedication. “We conduct 90-day reviews with our new hires, and they all comment on this. They tell us that it’s a little nerve-wracking at first to have ‘the boss’ on-site all day, but then they realize, ‘Hey, the owner is actually working with us,’ ” Ben adds.
Committed Employees, Measured Growth
The 24-person team at Contrast Metalworks includes project managers, detailers, structural/miscellaneous fabricators and a shop foreman in the fabrication shop, and structural erecters, miscellaneous installers, foremen and supervisors on job sites.
“When we offer someone a job, we’re making a commitment to them, and to their families, to provide steady employment,” Greg says. “We don’t add a new employee until we are comfortable that business growth will sustain that decision.”
The three owners have defined roles in the business to capitalize on their individual strengths. “Greg, always good with people, is responsible for sales. I’m a natural fit with the level of detail needed to manage pre-construction meetings and kick off project work. And Justin, with a knack for hands-on project management, supervises our field crews, day in and day out,” Ben says.
“We’re a family business. We treat employees like individuals, involve them in the company and recognize their work,” he says. “Our people are driven. When we have 12 hours of work to do in eight hours, they rise to the occasion. Their attitude is: ‘This is what has to be done; bring it on!’ ”
Contrast Metalworks is committed to being a great community partner, sponsoring local sports leagues and coaching teams. Additionally, the company has become involved in a revitalization task force in Pottstown.
Reflecting on 10 Years
According to Ben, the company—and family—mantra is: Quality is everything. “We stand behind our work and take pride in every aspect of a project,” he says. “We are not a 9-to-5 business. We take care of our customers’ needs day or night, weekend or holiday.”
As the company enters its 10th year, Greg reflects: “We built something from nothing. From starting in a basement in 2009 to buying our property last year, we grew from three brothers doing side jobs to creating a community of workers, setting goals we never dreamed of.”