Morton Buildings Inc.

With more than 100 locations and 2,500 employees  serving customers in 41 states and a dominant national market share in post-frame building construction, Morton Buildings Inc. is a large company by any standard. Although its size and status give it a number of capabilities that make it a go-to builder in the agricultural industry and other sectors, Morton retains the kind of personal touch small, local contractors are known for.

“While we are a big company, we have a number of smaller construction centers that are a part of the local community,” says Dan Nyberg, director of sales of the Morton, Ill.-headquartered builder. In addition to the Morton location, which also includes both a fabrication and manufacturing plant, the company has manufacturing plants in Gettysburg, Penn.; Kenton, Ohio; Winfield, Kan.; Spencer, Iowa and Cullman, Ala.; as well as 116 construction centers. Each construction center is comprised of one to five sales consultants who provide personalized service and expertise to customers, one or two administrators , and four to 25 construction crewmen.

The company was founded in 1903 as Interlocking Fence Co., a mail-order fencing company serving farmers. Its first farm machine storage building was built in 1949; the company changed its name to Morton Buildings Inc. in 1964.

Morton Buildings manufactures and constructs wood-frame metal buildings including horse barns, garages, storage buildings, churches, homes and businesses. More than half of Morton’s total business volume is in the agricultural market. “The suburban home and commercial market has been negatively impacted the last few years by the economic and bank lending climate, but the agricultural economy has still been going strong,” Nyberg says.

On the Farm

Ag-sector work including barns and sheds has grown from a pre-recession level of 35 percent of the company’s volume to 55 percent today. “We’ve seen some overall softening of our total volume because of the recession, but it’s basically been a shift in the type of our projects that has kept Morton Buildings going,” he adds.

The company’s agricultural projects have grown in more than volume. “One trend we’ve seen is the agricultural market has grown significantly in terms of the size of the buildings,” Nyberg says. “We’re doing a much larger percentage of buildings that are 72- and 81-feet wide, with many using hydraulic doors which in some cases may be 40 feet wide by 20 feet tall. Five or 10 years ago, these same buildings were about 60 feet wide. While the largest wood truss Morton manufactures is a 100-foot clear span, we have recently moved into a ‘hybrid’ building offering clear spans of up to 125 feet.”

Morton Buildings also is seeing an increased demand for residential and equestrian buildings, he notes.

Vertical Capabilities

The company employs its own crews to assemble the basic structure of its buildings including the frames, trusses and roof. Morton has the capability of assembling a 72-foot-wide by 18-foot-high and 195-foot-long structure such as a storage building within a two-week period. Subcontractors are retained to complete concrete, drywall, HVAC and other interior work once building exteriors are complete. An affiliated company, Allied Design Architectural & Engineering Group PC, offers engineering and design services. 

Morton Buildings manufactures most of the structural components used in its buildings and many specialty items including I-beams, Dutch doors and horse stall parts. Truss sizes vary from 12 feet to a large as 100 feet wide in clear span wood construction.

Last summer, the company introduced a locking center door latch for large sliding doors used in machine storage. The latch, developed and manufactured exclusively by Morton, allows doors to be locked from either the inside or the outside and to have either one of the panels or both operational.

“Vertical integration is one of our major strengths,” Nyberg says. “We manufacture our own trusses, columns and roll-forming steel panels, deliver those on a fleet of trucks we own and construct the structure itself using crews we directly employ, which is a significant difference from many other, similar builders.”

Morton crew foremen have an average 17 years of experience with the company. “It is very significant to have that kind of skilled labor working for us,” Nyberg says. “That experience allows us to construct our building with true craftsmanship. The experienced foremen working to train and oversee the balance of the crew is a critical part our customer satisfaction and ultimately our success.”

Crewmembers are regularly trained in assembly procedures and safety requirements. “We’re constantly training our crew with regard to OSHA requirements, primarily for their safety and well being beyond simply satisfying the government requirements,” he adds.

One current focal point for safety training is a change in OSHA requirements that mandates that all people on a crane crew – including riggers – be certified.

High Performers

Energy-efficient building practices have long been a standard practice at Morton. The company uses timber frames manufactured from renewable wood, as well as recycled and recyclable siding and roof steel. Materials for most of the company’s buildings are manufactured within 500 miles of its construction sites.

Morton Buildings’ optional Energy Performer® insulation system offers customers a single-piece fibreglass blanket that can run uninterrupted from below the floor to above the building’s ceiling. The  7-foot, 7-inch-wide, 40-foot-long insulation is neither compressed in the building’s wall nor broken into smaller pieces, Nyberg says.

The Energy Performer® system was one of the main energy-saving features used by Morton Buildings on the Havana National Bank in Lewistown, Ill. The 2,148-square-foot facility was awarded the ENERGY STAR® label in 2009 and 2010. Buildings qualifying for the distinction must score in the top 25 percent of the Environmental Protection Agency’s National Performance Rating System, and the bank exceeded that requirement, Nyberg says.

Quality Recognized

Morton Buildings in 2010 won a number of awards from the National Frame Builders Association recognizing its designs and quality. “With our commitment to providing Morton owners with flexibility in layout and style, and our reputation for excellence in quality and service, it is clear to see why we are the industry leaders,” the company says of the awards.

Recognized projects include:

  • A Morton Buildings local construction center in Watertown, S.D.;
  • A chiropractic office in Menomonie, Wis; 
  • An agricultural storage building and workshop in Ixonia, Wis.;
  • A hobby shop in Sioux Falls, S.D.;
  • A farm garage in Brown City, Mich. and residential garage in Sioux Falls;
  • Horse barns in Lake Wales, Fla.; Houston; and Rochester, Minn.;
  • A fire apparatus pumper truck testing facility in Monticello, Minn.;
  • A retrofit building built around an existing veterinary clinic that was under construction in Warsaw, N.Y.;
  • A barn and home in Savannah, Ga.; and
  • Five buildings that make up the Saratoga County Animal Shelter facility in Cobleskill, N.Y.
Important Partners

Each of Morton’s construction centers draws on local subcontractors and suppliers to complete its buildings. “They are vital to our success as they, like our crew members and salespeople, live in the areas we work in and know the specific issues of building in our areas such as soil issues or other specialized details,” Nyberg says.  “A large part of our success has been selecting excellent partners both in the supplier and subcontractor side.”

Morton’s key partners include Hayfield Win­dow, Mastic Home Exteriors by Ply Gem, Reso­lite/Stabilit America Inc. and ITW Buildex.

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