Steel Fabrication Done Right
Skyline Construction brings fabricated steel solutions to Florida and beyond
At Skyline Construction, Founder Sam Ramkissoon knows his way around a set of blueprints. And for good reason— the plans his company receives from clients, which often exceed 500 pages, must be transformed from 2D diagrams into the real thing. The steel parts produced by Skyline Construction eventually become the framework for structures like bridges, hotels and stadiums.
In addition to fabrication, Skyline Construction also provides structural renovation for existing buildings and heavy civil structures. Whether the project involves renovating an old bridge or installing accessibility guardrails on a library entrance ramp, the people at Skyline Construction strive to work as an efficient team to get the project done right. The firm is also a certified minority-owned company, with Sam originally hailing from the Caribbean.
It All Goes According to Plan
Skyline Construction operates out of an 8,000-square-foot facility in sunny Jacksonville, Florida. The tight-knit team of 12 to14 metalworkers shapes, cuts, welds, paints and assembles steel into precise fabricated parts that are shipped to job sites all over the United States. For projects in the Jacksonville area, Skyline Construction also erects steel on site. Recent local work includes steel elements for the Borland Groover Clinic, structural members for Mattamy Homes-RiverTown, new construction of St. Patrick Catholic Church and School and complete construction of The Fresh Market and other retail businesses, including handrails and roof enhancements in the neighborhood shopping areas.
Sam talks about how important it is that every piece of steel leaving the workshop matches the paperwork. “When everything is done correctly to the drawings, we have a seamless handoff. It gives you everything as though you were building a Lego set; like you were assembling a cabinet,” he says.
Referring to the drawings is a big part of daily work at Skyline Construction. Not only is it a useful industry standard for communicating with the construction teams erecting their work, it also keeps their fabrication process running smoothly. “If you have experienced employees, they look at these blueprints and know exactly what to do,” Sam explains. The drawings guide their team in coordinating the cutting, welding, measuring and labeling.
Small Team, Big Results
“The smallest company I’ve ever worked for is my own,” Sam says. Skyline Construction routinely works with Starbucks and the grocery chain ALDI, and has a number of hotels, hospitals and infrastructure projects under its belt.
In 2005, the Skyline Construction team fabricated and installed steel renovations at the TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville in preparation for the Super Bowl matchup between the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles. “At the time we wanted to bring the Super Bowl to Jacksonville,” says Sam, “to boost the economy here. We started off from what existed, took the drawings and went from there, and kept building. Once we were done, we couldn’t wait for the Super Bowl. Our facility is only three blocks from the stadium.”
After patiently waiting, the Skyline Construction team was finally able to enjoy the game alongside the 78,125 other spectators, the largest Super Bowl attendance in a decade.
In 2012, Skyline Construction embarked on a large construction project for St. Patrick Catholic Church and School near Jacksonville. One challenging aspect of the St. Patrick Church and School was coming up with a solution to construct a curved, sloping roof on the church. The people at Skyline Construction worked closely with engineers to create an efficient design incorporating lightweight steel trusses, known as a bar joist system. The team then completed the fabrication, delivery and installation in a coordinated effort led by Sam and Project Manager Frank Bryant. By the time the construction was completed in 2014, St. Patrick Catholic School had 400 students signed up and a growing wait list.
A recent project in 2018 for the United States Coast Guard, the Brewerton Tower, had the Skyline Construction crew assembling, disassembling and reassembling the entire tower in order to treat each piece of steel with what’s known as a “hot dipped galvanizing” process. Though it added complication to the project, the extra process will protect the steel from rust and erosion into the future. The tower currently functions as a lighthouse and added point of safety for ships traveling through the Brewerton Channel in Maryland.
Good People Make the Difference
For Sam, a good company begins with good management. “Our supervisors are really good about having a selective team,” he says. “We are very particular with who we employ, and if your management is good, then you will have good employees.”
The leaders at Skyline Construction see the hiring process as critical to the success of their company. When they hire, thorough training is a given. But what they really look for in new team members are qualities that are not easily taught: a sense of personal discipline and strong character. After 29 years in operation, Sam has found time and again that a small team of individuals possessing these traits can be very effective in maintaining a safe workspace and producing a quality product. “We are grateful to have employees with a lot of discipline, who are family-oriented people,” he adds.
Both of his sons, Alexander and Mitchell Ramkissoon, have worked at the company since their early teens. Alexander is the welding, fabrication and erection supervisor and Mitchell is part of the welding team. Long-term loyalty also extends beyond the Ramkissoon family: Frank Bryant has been the estimator and project manager for many years. In addition, Rebecca Raffaniello has been the office manager for five years. “Loyalty is hard to find these days; however, we have a great team, which results in a great company,” Sam says.
Skyline Construction has also maintained a productive business relationship with its main shipping company, Midstate Transport, for years. Their contact there, Dominic Raffaniello, is among a trusted network of professionals that can be counted on to deliver raw materials on time and transport the finished product without a hitch. It’s connections like these, the working relationships that are built up over time, that instill resilience and consistency in the company. Skyline Construction’s suppliers and shippers are as carefully selected as the employees themselves, and they provide valuable support to stay on schedule and move forward efficiently with new projects.
Scaling Up Smart
When it comes to the future of Skyline Construction, Sam has ambitious plans for the family company. “We want to get into the process of fabricating steel embeds on a large scale, for precast and concrete attachments,” he says. Steel embeds are metal parts that lend structural stability to concrete construction, like anchor bolts or steel plates with studs, along with pipes and other attachments embedded into concrete foundations. This diversification and scaling up will not require a bigger workspace or new machines, just the same small team coordinating their efforts toward an additional process.
Sam also has his mind set on expanding beyond the continental United States, to offer Skyline Construction’s services internationally. “We are looking to do more international work because we strongly feel that everyone would benefit,” he adds. When considering options for the future, a driving concern is always what’s best for the employees, who are also family.