Piling Canada

Rolling in the Deep

The Roll Form Group continues its success in North America
Written by Jim Chliboyko
June 2015

The Roll Form Group continues its success in North America

There probably aren’t too many things that Nisku, Alta. and Iuka, Miss. have in common, but the Roll Form Group is one of them.

The two towns – Nisku, which is just south of Edmonton, and Iuka in the northeastern-most county in Mississippi – are part of the landscape of the Roll Form Group, which itself is actually part of the vast Samuel, Son & Co., Limited, a privately held Canadian company that has been involved in the steel business since 1855.

Hal Mulveney is the general manager of the Roll Form Group’s Heavy Construction division, and describes the company as consisting of four different businesses.

“There’s Heavy Construction, Transportation, Building Products (Joists) and then we have a catch-all category that we call Custom Forming, serving the general manufacturing, solar, barge and truck markets,” said Mulveney. In terms of Heavy Construction and piling, that specific division of the Roll Form Group produces “cold rolled sheet piling and sells or distributes hot rolled sheet piling, H-pile, pipe pile, hot rolled structurals, pile points and tie rods,” according to company literature.

They also produce some products that many Canadians see every day of their lives.

“In Canada, we also manufacture highway guardrail products,” said Mulveney. “The highest percentage of sales [for these products] are in Ontario and Quebec, followed by the West and then the Maritimes. We are a national distributor of our products across the country.”

At one point in time, the Roll Form Group was known as Canadian Metal Rolling Mills, or CMRM. Mulveney said the name changed when they began to expand into the United States. CMRM began in September 1967 rolling roof deck, says Roll Form Group’s John Mitchell. Currently, the company has just over 550 employees, with 320 in the United States and about 240 in Canada.

The Roll Form Group’s Ontario facilities are located in Cambridge and Mississauga, Ont. Their Cambridge facility is devoted to heavy gauge products such as sheet piling, structural sections and guiderails through two plants with combined production area of over 170,000 square feet, especially focused on Heavy Construction and Transportation products. This plant can also do some finer detail work, like piercing, punching and sweeping, painting and can also deal with varieties of both ferrous and non-ferrous metals. The Mississauga location has been focused mostly on light gauge building products (deck and cladding), though the company has made the decision to exit this business.


The Nisku facility actually operates under the name Omega Joists and is focused on open web steel joists, while the Iuka plant in Mississippi is a 130,000-square-foot manufacturing plant, serving Roll Form Group’s Heavy Construction and Transportation customers in U.S. and Mexico, in particular.

According to the Roll Form Group itself, combined, the company’s manufacturing facilities are incorporated in over 400,000 square feet of production floor space with production lines including cold forming mills, in line notching, piercing and punching. In addition, separate fabricating bays include shearing, brake forming, MIG and TIG welding, plasma cutting, precision drilling, assembly and painting.

Though the company is looking to increase its activities in other regions in North America, Ontario is obviously a big area for the Roll Form Group.

“In Canada, the greatest focus on sheet piling is around the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence. Specifically marine, everything from small craft harbours to major shipping wharves,” said Mitchell, the Ontario-based Canadian sales manager who has been with the Roll Form Group for 26 years.

One of the company’s larger projects recently has been the Windsor-Essex Parkway Project, also known as the Right Honourable Herb Grey Parkway (a name just given to the project this past fall), a $1.4-billion, 11-kilometer-long highway which will basically connect Highway 401 near Windsor with the American border at Detroit.

“We had an order for all the H-piles on this project, some 18,000 tonnes of steel,” said Mitchell. Their contribution to the project began in May 2012, and wrapped up in 2013. “As far as the H-piles, that’s the biggest project we’ve ever been involved in.”

One of the companies that the Roll Form Group often finds itself working with is the Hamilton-based Bermingham Foundation Solutions; the two companies have recently worked together on wind farms, the aforementioned Windsor-Essex Parkway Project and on the Leslie Street Connector, amongst other projects.

“We feel we’re very lucky to have a good quality piling supplier,” said Peter Smith of Bermingham, referring to the Roll Form Group. “They’ve been a steady and reliable supplier to us for decades. They’re certainly excellent at responding to our needs … They’re great about getting back to us. ”

Heading into any given project, said Smith, “sometimes we don’t know the soil conditions and that’s where a great sup- plier shows their worth.”

Amongst some of the other projects the Roll Form Group has been involved in is the Wainfleet Wind Farm, which they just completed with Rankin Construction, says Mitchell. They are also working on the BioAmber acid plant project in Sarnia with Deep Foundations Contractors, as well as doing work with Anchor Shoring & Caissons on the Ashbridges Bay Wastewater Treatment Plant, Toronto’s main treatment plant and the largest in treatment plant in Canada.

In spite of the presence of projects like the Windsor-Essex Parkway, Mitchell sees a particular direction for the business, in the short term, anyway.

“The direction seems that there’s a lot of stimulus in medium-sized projects,” said Mitchell.

Another one of the directions that the Roll Form Group seems to be heading in is south. The company has been known to buy firms in the U.S., like I.C.S., a national distributor of piling products and a former customer of the Roll Form Group, which they purchased in 2007. In 2009, the Roll Form Group purchased Jacksonville’s Piling Products Incorporated (PPI), which allowed the company to get into different areas of the industry, like the rental piling business, which is a segment of the market that thrives in the U.S. In 2012, the company also purchased a railcar component manufacturer called Stanrail in Gary, Ind.


“Rental piling is used in many applications, and it can be in the ground for a month, six months or longer,” said Mulveney. “We probably have 15,000 tonnes of various sizes and lengths of sheet piling in our rental fleet. We really grew that part of business with this acquisition.

“Rental piling is a bigger part of our business in the U.S. than Canada due to the different soil conditions. In certain areas of the U.S., the piling can be driven in and pulled out of the ground a number of times. In Canada, larger companies have their own fleet, with sheets that they’ll use for temporary applications.”

Not to be overlooked in all of this is the Roll Form Group’s construction of the Iuka, Miss. plant. This greenfield facility started production back in 2007, and was chosen for its strategic location, says Mulveney, with southern steel mills close by, as well as good road, rail and river connections.

“Sixty to 70 miles straight east is Decatur, Ala. It’s a steel centre. There are many steel mills in the south, within good proximity of the plant,” said Mulveney. “Our products do ship fairly well. As an example, we can ship product from Mississippi to Fort McMurray and be competitive.”

The prospect of doing business in Mexico also figured in the location of their Iuka plant.

“[For our Mexican customers,] we can load rail cars at our plant in Mississippi, then rail to Texas, where our Mexican partners will pick up our products and be the importers of record into Mexico,” said Mulveney.

Another benefit of the Iuka location was that the plant was purpose-built new for the company, with the potential for them to easily double their manufacturing footprint, if needed.

”It is a pretty significant investment,” said Mulveney. “But what you end up with is an efficient facility with good process and material flow and that is exactly what you want. As we have purchased companies in the past, and as we have moved equipment from facility to facility, you don’t have the luxury of flow [in older, pre-owned facilities] as you do in a newer facility.”

Along with their ambitions for growth, membership in industry associations is important to the Roll Form Group management. The company is involved in no less than 20 different associations, including the Deep Foundations Institute (DFI) and the Pile Driving Contractors Association (PDCA).

“Certainly, within the heavy construction world, there are important associations,” said Mulveney. “The DFI is important, we are very supportive of that association, and we regularly attend their events. We are members and supporters of PDCA as well. Being a member of these industry associations allows us visibility throughout the organization, throughout the membership and across the industry as a whole. It could lead to new customers, new contacts in the engineering community, hopefully leading to future opportunities and collaborations. From time to time, there could be important information forthcoming from these associations, whether it’s government regulations and specifications, that sort of thing.”

For the future, the Roll Form Group isn’t just limiting their plans to expanding further across the United States.

“Between five and 10 per cent sales of our sales are in Mexico, with 60 per cent in the U.S.,” said Mulveney. “For future growth (domestically), we do need to grow in both Western and Eastern Canada. Concurrently, our plan is to also grow in the U.S. and Mexico with stronger coverage, new products and through acquisition.”

When asked what made the Roll Form Group the company it is today, Mulveney lists off several factors: “We focus on being a low-cost supplier, providing the highest level of service and integrity, supplying the industry with a wide range of products, delivered on-time, anywhere in North America. To do so, we have to carefully manage inventory, production, freight and logistics. We have a pretty well developed logistics solution. We deliver the material when the customers need it. You need to be a reliable supplier.”

There’s one guiding principle the company tries to keep in mind during all of its activities.

“At the end of the day,” said Mulveney, “We just try to help our customers by keeping their total costs as low as possible.”

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