Local firm has reason to beam
NFL sites feature Hirschfeld steel San Angelo put the steel in the Steelers. Today as you watch the AFC Championship football playoff game between the Steelers and the Ravens, pay a little closer attention to those overhead shots of Pittsburgh's Heinz Field.
The steel beams and supports that keep that stadium up and looking so nice (some 12,500 tons of it) were fabricated in San Angelo at Hirschfeld Steel and trucked to Pittsburgh from right here in the Concho Valley, and also from the company's plants in Midland and Abilene. "It really is amazing to think that in Pittsburgh of all places, they went with a company from a small town down here in Texas," said Jeremy Bartz, the Human Resources manager for Hirschfeld. "That just shows the superior product we produce." The Steelers football team is named that because Pittsburgh is such a hub of the steel industry, but when the owners of the team needed the best steel products in the world, they knew who to go with. After all, Heinz Field, which was built in 2001, was hardly Hirschfeld's first rodeo. Actually, you can hardly watch ESPN for very long without seeing some of Hirschfeld's handiwork. They fabricated the steel used in Reliant Stadium of the Houston Texans, Soldier Field of the Chicago Bears, the Houston Astros' Minute Maid Park and in the renovations of United Spirit Arena in Lubbock and the Staples Center in Los Angles.
Here's what he means when Bartz says "fabricated" the steel. Hirschfeld isn't a steel mill. Rather, raw steel is shipped in from elsewhere. But it's the folks at Hirschfeld who craft that raw steel into the strong, usable, beautiful building blocks for these huge stadiums ($31.4 million of that raw steel went into making Heinz Field). "I go out to our shop and to see those guys working on these things, just the craftsmen they are, it's really amazing," Bartz said. Hirschfeld usually gets involved in these type of projects after a team owner or a city hires a general contractor to build a stadium. That general contractor asks companies from around the country and sometimes around the world to submit bids on how much they would charge to fabricate the steel for the project. "We're probably not going to be the cheapest," Bartz said. "But we have superior fabrication. That's why we keep winning these jobs."
The background of Hirschfeld Steel itself is pretty interesting. Its roots go back to 1919, and it has grown from a small local company to one that has over 920 employees in Texas, North Carolina, Virginia, Alabama and Colorado. Bartz said he's going to be watching the football game today and smiling every time he sees a shot of Heinz Field. "I think about it every time I see one of those places on TV," Bartz said. "Wow, out of San Angelo Texas. It's amazing for a town this size to help produce something that helps bring joy to so many." Jeff Wick is a sportswriter for the Standard-Times. His column appears every Sunday. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or (325) 659-8259.
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