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Apex Steel

iron workers of the northwest Apex Steel was created in 1996 as a full-service structural steel contractor. They got involved in a project that led to the development of Apex Tower Crane, a tower crane, hoist and man-lift business, that services the Pacific Northwest.

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APEX STEEL iron workers of the northwest and beyond by Joan Tupponce

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evin Koester knows not only the importance of establishing good business relationships but also delivering quality work. “It’s all about going out and doing a good job,” he said. “Work breeds work.” As Founder and President of Apex Steel, Inc., Koester has built his Washington State-based company into one of the largest steel contractors in the Pacific Northwest. Koester found the company in 1996, after working in the industry for 10 years. Most of the company’s jobs were hard bid projects. “We had very few relationships in the industry,” Koester said. “I was a superintendent in the field prior to that. I hadn’t built a lot of relationships.” One of Koester’s goals was to grow his company through repeat customers. “Once we were hired, they knew we would get the job done,” he said. “Our goal was always to do more work for them.” In 1999 Apex dedicated resources to enter the structural steel erection market and has since performed $50 million dollars worth of structural steel erection projects. Apex served as a full-service structural steel contractor on Lincoln Square in Bellevue, Wash. “This project presented unique challenges because the new structure, a 29-story high rise, was constructed on top of an existing five-story building located in downtown Bellevue,” Koester said. Apex built a tri-pod tower crane base between floors four and five that tied into the existing building in order to accommodate the tower crane for the project. The subsequent erection of the 29-story building required special protection for pedestrians and existing buildings. That project eventually led to the 2008 opening of Apex Tower Crane, a company that performs tower crane, hoist and manlift work in the Pacific Northwest market. 1. Port of Seattle Pedestrian Bridge. The new pedestrian bridge ties the light rail station to the Sea-Tac parking garage and is part of ongoing construction at the SeaTac airport project. This 213’ x 30’ x 12’ bridge weighing 232,000 lbs. was pre-fabricated and moved to site by tractor and steer cars. The bridge was erected in one piece with one crane.

2. Escala. Apex worked on several different scopes on this downtown condo tower. They provided labor to install reinforcing steel, PT cables, precast concrete, and roof steel. They also provided the tie backs for the crane and a bellman on the project. In total, Apex installed 7,000-tons of reinforcing steel on this 30-story tower with nine stories below grade.

NESS & CAMPBELL CRANE, INC. Ness & Campbell Crane is the Northwest’s leading crane rental company. Their large fleet includes crane sizes and types capable of meeting almost any need or situation. Sales representatives from their Seattle, Tacoma, Longview or Portland offices are available to review customer hoisting plans, provide crane and rigging selection and assist customers during every phase of their project. For further information call 888 784-1054 or 800 932-6766. 4 Construction Leaders Today


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“We had been doing that type of work for Koester sees the tower crane portion of the about seven years prior to starting that busi- business growing. ness,” Koester said. “We go out and erect tower “There are 166 new wind turbines comcranes and then dismantle them when the ing on one project,” he said. “The hoists/ project is finished.” elevators will need to be erected, mainKoester decided to incorporate the business tained and have yearly inspections. It could to address potential risk management issues. become full-time work for the whole crew.” “To date, we have not had one recordable injury,” He refers to the years 2003 and 2004 as turnhe said, adding, “The problem with tower crane ing points for Apex. construction is that it can catastrophic if there “I got more involved in the business,” he said. is an accident.” “I realized it could be just as much fun building The current movement toward energy effi- a business as it was building a big structure.” ciency is providing new opportunities for Apex He started to focus on marketing and sales. Tower Crane. “I made sure we got out in front of the construc“We provide erection service on tower hoist/ tion leaders. I got a new logo and new branding.” elevators for construction workers.” Apex His efforts paid off. In 2008, the company is a licensed elevator contractor, which is completed over $25 million in work and a plus in the State of Washington. State logged in the highest volume of hours of guidelines require that elevator contractors all steel subcontractors as reported by the have a license. local union.

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One of the company’s most extensive steel projects was the Experience Music Project in downtown Seattle, Washington. Designed by Frank O. Gehry and Associates architects, the innovative building stands as symbol for the movement of music. “As a project it evolved,” Koester said. “The whole structure is unique. There wasn’t a right angle on the job. We did all the welds and put on the interior skin. When we finished, it was a $2 million-plus project. That job helped us get into the structural steel market.” 3. ShoWare Center. The new area in Kent was erected by Apex Steel. An Apex engineered shoring system allowed the crane to move out of the structure as the bowl steel, stadia seating and roof steel were completed in sections. This allowed other trades to fall into line behind them with the completed structure. Apex provided a full package on this project supplying labor to erect the structure as well as to install finished products like stainless steel handrails and sign supports.

As a project, it evolved. The whole structure is unique. There wasn’t a right angle on the job. We did all the welds and put on the interior skin. When we finished, it was a $2 million-plus project. That job helped us get into the structural steel market.

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Even though the company has a diversified portfolio of expertise, Koester still enjoys working on large steel bridge expanses. “I love the engineering side of it,” he said. “We don’t have as much competition in that area because it’s a risky business.” As the business has grown, Koester has created relationships with companies that provide everything from insurance and bonding to legal advice. “We wanted to make sure we had the right team in place for our company,” Koester said. “We trust their advice.” The company has used the economic downturn to build business. “We continue to grow,” Koester said. “For example, we grew our safety department by developing new plans and procedures. We did the same in marketing. It’s a good way to keep a positive energy.” Since opening, the company has diversified into every market where there are jobs performed by ironworkers. “We capitalize on that,” Koester said. “All of our divisions lend to one another. They all work together as a team.” The company has also embraced new eco-friendly technology by expanding into those new markets. “We have moved into the wind energy business,” Koester said. The company employs union ironworkers who have completed a four-year apprenticeship program. Company employees must also attend shop training once a year. 4. UW Site 31, Tower Crane. Apex employee Jim Greene and founder and president, Kevin Koester, erect a tower crane at the UW site 31 project.

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UNITED IRON WORKS United Iron Works Inc. has enjoyed a mutually beneficial partnership with Apex Steel on several construction projects over the past decade, and wishes to congratulate Apex Steel on being an industry leader. For more information on United Iron Works, please call 206-767-3630.


Employees, Customers & Community! From bid to completion, Brooks Steel Fabrication, Inc. goes the extra mile to earn your confidence and exceed your expectations. Whether you are building a school, a store or a commercial office complex, Brooks has the experience, technical capabilities, production equipment, and management systems to handle projects throughout the entire northwest, Alaska and Hawaii. Services include: Structural steel including Columns, Beams, Trusses, and Embedments. Miscellaneous steel including Stair Systems, Railing Systems, Canopies, Awnings, Ladders and Gates. For more information email info@brookssteel.com

www.brookssteel.com | 360-403-9400 | 360-403-9889 f. | 19320 63rd Ave. NE, Arlington, WA 98223


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“We also do internal training here once a quarter,” Koester said. He credits part of the company’s growth to his employees. “Our people are what makes the difference,” he said. “Most of our employees have been here since I started the company. I have always enjoyed watching people grow and meet their goals. That’s one reason I started the company. We give them that room to grow.” CLT 5. Museum of Flight Bridge, Seattle, Wash. This 340’ pedestrian bridge connects the Museum of Flight buildings and spans East Marginal Way in Seattle. The bridge was erected in two sections with minimum clearance between buildings and beneath live high voltage power lines. Erection and AESS compliant welds were completed in one 20-hour shift in order to accommodate the City of Seattle’s road closure and lighting constraints. 6. Virginia Mason, Tower Crane. Apex employees dismantle the tower crane at the Virginia mason project.

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BROOKS STEEL FABRICATORS When general contractors look for a structural and miscellaneous steel fabricator that has proven experience in delivering high quality and competitively priced products, delivered on time, they turn to Brooks Steel Fabrication. Brooks’ success and staying power in the industry is based on an unyielding commitment to their employees, customers, and the community at large. Founded in 1975, Brooks has built strong relationships and partnerships with a large, growing base of commercial contractors in the Pacific Northwest, Alaska and Hawaii. Brooks’ high standards of craftsmanship, reputation for on-time performance and agility keep their customers coming back time and time again. They have the industry’s best team of project managers, estimators, detailers, and production fabricators that thrive in a culture of individual excellence, leadership, autonomy, customer delight and family. Brooks Steel Fabrication never looks at a job in the context of a single project. Their business philosophy stresses the importance of approaching each project as a relationship building opportunity. Brooks’ take their work and responsibility to customers very seriously; and they measure success by their ability to exceed expectations. From bid to project completion, Brooks’ Steel Fabrication go the extra mile to earn your confidence and exceed your expectations. For more information visit www.brookssteel.com.

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Apex Steel  

Apex Steel was created in 1996 as a full-service structural steel contractor. They got involved in a project that led to the development of...