The Pioneer of Steel: Business Celebrates 48 Years of Community Involvement, Innovation

Westernaires Equestrian Arena In Golden, Colorado. Photo courtesy of Sunward Steel Buildings

Twenty-first century technology has changed the way we do business. The Internet has put vast amounts of information at the buyer’s fingertips and accelerated the way we do business. Although technology has made it more efficient, we have lost some of the personal touch in the sales process.

Time travel back to 1972. In a world without the internet how do you sell steel buildings to farmers across the western plains? By airplane of course! Danton Wirth, founder of Sunward Steel Buildings regularly made sales calls in his Cessna 182, literally dropping in on his customers to meet and discuss their needs.

For Wirth it was about the community he served. Much of the initial prospecting and appointment setting was done through letters and phone calls. Amy Wirth, president of the 48 year old family business, talks about her dad and his early days of sales with Sunward. “He would land on the dirt road and have dinner with the whole family on the farm.” After the meal Danton would sit at the kitchen table and talk business. “He would get the order right there, and go onto the next farm.”

Danton Wirth started selling steel buildings in 1972 and two years later purchased a steel building factory in Jamestown, North Dakota. Leaving the production facility in Jamestown, he moved his family and company headquarters to Denver. In the late 1990’s, Sunward expanded their production capabilities by adding a fabrication facility outside of Charleston, South Carolina to service the Eastern US.

Steel buildings have come a long way since the early 70’s, with Sunward being a driving force behind the evolution of the industry. From simple arch buildings, known as Quonset huts, to today’s complex, straight-walled buildings, the form and functionality of the buildings can be somewhat surprising. Schools, hospitals, recreation and event centers are just a few of the many possibilities within the capabilities of Sunward’s design and production team.

While the design and manufacturing process is self-contained, Amy Wirth is quick to point to the partners who are often needed to complete a project. Sunward regularly works as part of a design team including architects, general contractors, and constructions crews who manage the foundation and building process, putting the structure together.

For Sunward it’s all about the team and it isn’t unusual for several businesses to work closely together through the entire process, assuring the finished building is exactly what the client expects.

The advantage of a steel building is typically a lower price over the traditional building process, plus the design-to-build time is on average eight to twelve weeks. The structures are long-lasting and if damaged, new components can be manufactured and replaced.

As a Denver based company, Sunward does much of their work within the Rocky Mountain Region, yet they are not limited to the area or even the country. Over the past 48 years Sunward has produced more than 50,000 steel buildings delivering them across the entire US, into Canada and overseas.

Under Amy’s leadership, the company continues to focus on projects that support community needs. Organizations with limited or fixed budgets see steel buildings as an affordable alternative to traditional construction. Sunward has been instrumental in helping businesses accomplish their goals. In addition to being a financial supporter of the program, Sunward assisted the Westernaires with the fabrication of four buildings, creating an indoor practice arena that can be used year-round.

Community focused projects benefit from the Sunward approach. Parker Racquet Club, a unique tennis facility facing a strict budget and specific building requirements from the Town of Parker, is a shining example of Sunward providing solutions that brought the project to reality. Steel buildings are becoming more popular as the medium proves to be cost effective and versatile. While sales calls are no longer done by airplane, Danton Wirth built a legacy business that his family carries on today. With a community focus, Sunward Steel Buildings has brought steel building technology forward to a point where it easily competes with traditional construction in both style and cost.

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