The iSPAN Story
Founder & Advisor
While in college pursuing an engineering technology diploma, Mike worked as an ironworker and ended up graduating and getting his journeyman papers at the same time. Beginning work full-time, initially as an ironworker, he took on various roles (ironworker, surveyor, foreman, site coordinator, project manager, general manager, etc.) that led to working as VP of Research and Development for a major steel fabricator.
While working on a connector project for composite floor joists, Mike was preparing to build a cottage. Mike said, “My boss told me that I could use the joists and connecters that I was working on for free, if I wanted to try them on the first floor of the cottage. There were also some heavy gauge scrap 12 inch C shapes that were offered to me as well, so I decided to frame the second floor and roof with those members.
This was all good news, it appeared the savings would be around $11,000. We revised the framing to suit all of the free materials, but in the end it cost a premium of $12,000 after everything was installed. While the installation experience was frustrating, it provided me with a huge education about using cold formed steel for framing. Finally some clarity about why, for 20 years, everyone in the industry kept saying that cold formed steel framing was going to be the next big thing, but it never seemed to take off.
It was because the designers had not taken a bunch of C shapes out into the field and tried to put them together to produce a framed structure. The industry was trying to fix the product offering sitting at a desk. They didn’t realize that you cut yourself. There were no pre-drilled holes, yet one couldn’t drill holes unless you carried a drill or change the drill bits. In thick hard steel, without a pilot hole, the fasteners would not bite so they would slide when trying to install them. There were all these tiny little problems that, and without solving them, one could see that the industry was never going to go anywhere.
So that’s the problem I set out to solve. To simplify cold formed steel framing components and make them better and easier to use.”
“I wanted to simplify light steel frame components and make them better and easier to use. Floors are 65% of the weight of a building and the walls are 30%. So I decided to start with flooring systems as it was were I could see making the biggest gains.”
“So then the question became, “Where do I start?” If you take a look at the cold-formed steel frame industry, you have roofs, you have walls, and you have floors. Floors are 65% of the weight of a building and the walls are 30%. So I decided to start with flooring systems as it was were I could see making the biggest gains.
That’s how we came up with our first product, TotalJoist. Walters Group and Supreme Steel then became my partners in the business to create iSPAN. We set up a plant in Princeton, Ontario and took on our first projects.
Through some of our early experience, we realized that we needed a way to make the joist system stronger. Through a chance meeting, I discovered the perfect decking system to compliment TotalJoist and Composite TotalJoist was born.”
Today iSPAN has developed well beyond myself. What makes me most proud about this company is the ground-up approach we took to building it, and equally as important, the incredible team we have built. I believe that we provide the industry best service support from engineering, to detailing, to estimating, to site project management.”