Cape Coral, Florida - Crowther Roofing and Sheet Metal

  • Five buildings totaling 67,000 sq. ft. of trusses
  • 92 foot clear span trusses with 4' overhangs
  • Download the case study PDF

Located on Florida’s beautiful southwest coast, the city of Cape Coral is the most populous community between Tampa and Miami. Over the past decade Cape Coral’s permanent population has swelled by more than 60%, to in excess of 170,000. This rapid growth has necessitated a significant investment in all types of infrastructure to support the basic needs of Cape Coral and the surrounding communities. Several years ago, city officials in Cape Coral tasked Colorado based MWH Contractors with overseeing a major over haul to increase their city’s sewer, water treatment, and water management infrastructure. According to their website,

“MWH is a multi-disciplined globalteam of program managers, business consultants, engineers, geologists, operators, scientists, technologists and regulatory experts all contributing toward providing our clients solid solutions that reflect best practices in wet infrastructure knowledge, experience and innovation.”

MWH is currently involved in 19 major wet infrastructure projects around the world, including providing construction management services for the new North Cape Reverse Osmosis (RO) water treatment facility. On site general construction is overseen by Poole & Kent of Florida ( P & K, which is part of the EMCOR Group (a Fortune 500 company) is one of nation’s largest mechanical contractors. According to Mike Brown, Project Manager for Poole and Kent,

“We specialize in HVAC, plumbing, mechanical and construction for municipal water/wastewater and reuse treatment facilities.”

When completed in November 2009, the $96 million North Cape RO facility will increase Cape Coral’s water purification processing capacity by 12 million gallons per day. The massive project consists of multiple structures, including 5 buildings totaling 67,000 ft2 trussed with Ultra-Span® cold formed steel trusses produced, installed, and roofed by Crowther Roofing and Sheet Metal. Fort Myers-based Crowther Roofing ( boasts more than 50 years of experience in the roofing industry. They are one of Florida’s (and the nation’s), largest roofing contractors, providing a full range of turn-key roofing solutions. And, since 2004, Crowther has fabricated and installed Ultra-Span roof trusses to support tens of millions of square feet of roof throughout Florida.

“We saw that we were installing our roofing systems over other people’s steel trusses,” explains David Crowther, Co-CEO and Chief Operating Officer. “What we found is that many of the truss suppliers were unable to meet our demanding scheduling and quality requirements. Together with my father, Lee Sr., and brother, Lee, Jr., we decided to bring the truss design and manufacturing process in house. We certainly had some challenges learning an entirely new business, but now, cold formed trusses represent one of our best growth markets.”

“We selected Aegis Metal Framing based on their full range of products and services,” continued Crowther. “We were particularly attracted to their “systems engineering” approach, which as an installer, we really rely upon given the significant connection and system bracing challenges high wind zones can present.”

One of Crowther Roofing’s keys to success is their extensive project management capability. A project of the size, cost, and importance of North Cape RO would require a firm that could handle the extreme design challenges the water treatment plant presented, as well as to mobilize sufficient field labor to meet the aggressive truss and roofing installation schedule. According to Ruben Ponce, Senior Project Manager and Truss Division Manager:

“There are few truss and roofing companies that can bring the scope and scale of resources to the table that we do. Because of our size, we were able to man North Cape with more than 50 workers at any given time. Between our truss plant, installation crew, and roofing crews, at one point we had more than 75 people dedicated to this one project. Additionally, due to the tight schedule we were facing, we saw the need to open and operate a second truss facility dedicated exclusively to fabricating the trusses for this project.”

Beyond merely manning the project, the Crowther truss team faced significant obstacles in design and logistics. Ed Welch, Truss Design Manager, was charged with designing the 92 foot clear span trusses with 4’ overhangs. He and his team also had to devise a scheme for transporting the huge trusses, in sections, to the job site, as well as field assembling them into the finished truss. No mean task to be sure.

“Not only was the sheer size of the main-span truss an issue, but we also had to design to 150 mph wind speeds,” commented Welch. “Fortunately, Aegis Metal Framing’s USD product line is able to handle these kind of extreme design challenges.”

Crowther called upon the considerable experience of Jeff Compton, Senior Truss Superintendent, to devise a means for fastening together the two 46’ base trusses and one 47’ cap truss that would create the finished, 92’x 20’ tall main span truss. Compton’s plans called for splicing the two base truss pieces on a mobile assembly table comprised of truck trailer beds. The trusses were spliced together and then positioned on a special vertical jig to apply the large cap truss.

“Assembling, handling, and installing trusses of this size require a different mindset,” offered Compton. “Safety is paramount on all Crowther job sites, and when you are hoisting and placing 92 foot structural components that weigh almost 1,500 pounds apiece, you can’t just sling ‘em up with a crane. We fabricated a special, 60 foot spreader bar of structural angle to ensure a safe and proper lifting.”

Once the 135 massive trusses for the main building were in place, Crowther’s roofing team immediately swung into action. The roofing system applied to North Cape RO consisted of a 3.5” Nailboard insulation topped with a Peel and Stick underlayment. The roof insulation was secured and mechanically fastened to the 18 and 16 gauge metal deck which in turn was mechanically attached to the top chord of the truss system. This extensive fastening pattern was necessary to meet the significant uplift requirements imposed by the 150 mph design wind speeds. The roofing crews topped off the buildings with a .040 Aluminum Kynar Finish standing seam roof, roll formed on site with Crowther’s portable roofing equipment. Once properly fastened and seamed, the metal roof system will provide North Cape RO with a 20 yr. water- tightness warranty.

With the North Cape RO Water Treatment facility, Crowther Roofing and Sheet Metal has again demonstrated their ability to tackle to largest and most challenging cold formed truss and roofing projects. Their ability to self-perform all divisions “from the plate line up” provides competitive advantage in the increasingly challenging commercial/ institutional roofing market. Project Manager Brown of Poole and Kent perhaps said it best in a succinct summary of Crowther’s performance,

“Excellent. They are real pros.”