Every year the Agri-Trade Equipment Expo holds an exhibition of new and innovative ideas in farm equipment and supplies. They also recognize key innovators in the field with their Ag Innovations Awards, selected by a committee of independent local producers. Among this years’ winners was Okotoks, Alberta’s own Integrity Post Structures, in recognition for their new product, Perma-Columns.
Integrity post structures
Incorporated in 2008, Integrity Post Structures specializes in the building of post-frame buildings for the agricultural and commercial market. A post-frame building, as its name implies, is built using wooden posts as a frame unlike the more common post-and-beam structures. Using pre-fabricated wooden posts allows for a diversity of layouts, energy efficiency, and rapid construction times, all important to agricultural producers in need of structures to house livestock, store grain, or keep farm machinery out of the weather. They can also build very large structures without the need for poured concrete foundations. Their services are in high demand.
Al Williams, co-founder of Integrity along with Jerry Myers, says they build between 300 and 400 buildings a year. “We manage 17 crews here,” Williams says.
Part of the speed and economy Integrity offers is due to the simplicity: “Our buildings are very, very simple,” Williams says, “we try to stick with basic structures. We just focus on building the buildings, not getting sidetracked into floors or electrical or plumbing.” In Integrity’s experience most farmers are able to handle those features themselves or find local contractors to do the work. “A lot of times their struggle is with building the building itself,” Williams says. Those buildings can be very large — up to 22 feet high with the larger 290 pound columns — but few customers require roofs that high.
One obstacle farmers often have is a lack of construction services. Concrete foundation contractors are sparse out in rural areas, and even when contractors can be found the foundations can be prohibitively expensive. This is where Integrity’s Perma-Columns give them a major lead over other contractors.
Precast concrete columns
Integrity is the licensed Canadian manufacturer of Perma-Columns. Crafted from precast concrete, they keep the wooden frame out of contact with the ground. This protects the frame from rot and adds years of useful life to the structure, without greatly increasing cost or sacrificing the speed of building. It’s a solid concrete foundation for the building’s posts without the need for a full poured one. “Once we saw the product,” Williams says, “we knew there was great potential for it in Canada.”
To every project Integrity brings a wealth of industry knowledge about the latest manufacturing and building techniques. Because of this they start each project by asking customers to talk to them about their needs rather than their wants. In one instance a farmer wanted a lean-to built onto an existing structure but Integrity was able to demonstrate that a whole new building would be less expensive than an expansion. “No two buildings are exactly the same,” says Williams, “they can be customized to suit individual needs. We’ve done this enough times that we have good solutions for a wide range of issues facing farmers.”
Of particular interest to grain farmers is Integrity Post Structure’s grain storage buildings. Built with their Perma-Column, the buildings can be assembled quickly and at low cost. They also come in a wide range of sizes and options, with insulated and uninsulated doors of various sizes, perfect for housing farm equipment likes tractors and combines.
Perma-Columns combines the economy of wooden post-frame construction with the versatility of a concrete foundation. Facing high demand for their services, Integrity is working on training new construction crews to continue delivering prompt, high-quality service to their customers.