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Manitowoc’s A.C.E. Building Service named a Top Metal Builder two years running

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July 25, 2023

MANITOWOC – For the second consecutive year, A.C.E. Building Service, located at 3510 S. 26th St. in Manitowoc, was named a Top Metal Builder by Metal Construction News.

“What a great thing to be named one of the top metal builders in the country for the second year in a row,” Chris Herzog, president of A.C.E., said. “For me, it is a special thing – it marks the growth we have seen over the years. You do not take things like that for granted. It has taken us a while to get to this point, but it is a nice feather in our cap to have.”

In addition to ranking in the 2023 Top Metal Builder report, A.C.E., an affiliate of Butler Manufacturing, was also recognized as a High-Performance Builder at the 2023 Butler Builder meeting earlier this year.

“Our partnership with Butler Manufacturing began in 1973,” Herzog said. “Butler is the leader in the pre-engineered industry with unmatched quality and without a doubt, the best building on the market. The unwavering support and dedication of Butler and the A.C.E. team, along with the incredible clients in Manitowoc and throughout Northeast Wisconsin, have played an instrumental role in our achievements. For that, we are grateful.”

Additionally, Herzog said A.C.E.’s past and current employees have been a big key to its success.

“They give us the building blocks to build upon – no pun intended,” he said.

Chris Herzog

Herzog said making the top-100 list also helps build trust with prospective clients – especially ones they have not worked with before.

“If you’ve never worked with someone before, a contractor/client relationship is very personal,” he said. “(The client is) putting the livelihood of their business in our hands to ensure we can achieve a project by a certain time – they also have goals with timelines to be met. The project we are doing for them is one of the pieces of their puzzle. It is a relationship built on trust.”

Herzog said 90% of A.C.E.’s clients in any given year are repeats from previous years.

“We’ve grown to become trusted advisors and a source they can trust and count on,” he said.

Herzog said the top 100 metal builders are determined with information obtained by a survey sent to companies who classify themselves as either a metal contractor or erector.

Rankings are based on the tonnage of materials purchased and the total square footage of structures built by the company within a calendar year.

Classified as a contractor, A.C.E. Building Service ranked in both tonnage (84th) and square footage (78th).

A.C.E. – a Northeast Wisconsin-based commercial and industrial construction service provider, has been in business for 60 years.

Allen C. Eberhardt – whose initials are ACE – founded A.C.E. Building Service as an offshoot of A.C.E Agricultural Supply Company in 1950.

Thirteen years later, in 1963, A.C.E. incorporated and began to outgrow its agricultural roots – and pre-engineering steel structures became an area of focus.

Herzog said in 1969, A.C.E. began to grow its design/build project services.

Ron Schwalbe and Jim Steuer purchased the company from Eberhardt in 1984 and a focus on design-build projects in the private sector was established.

A.C.E. originally began as A.C.E. Agricultural Supply in the 1950s. Submitted Photo

In 1998, A.C.E. moved into its current location on South 26th St. in Manitowoc – allowing it to serve a larger geographical area that includes Sheboygan and Calumet Counties.

Herzog, along with Carolyn Hoffmann, Max Maigatter and Stuart Johnson, purchased the company in 2021.

In the last decade, A.C.E. has acquired two companies to further its offerings – adding them as divisions of A.C.E. Building Service.

In 2017, A.C.E. acquired Corner Point, LLC, a surveying and land development services firm that is now known as Corner Point.

A.C.E. acquired SMI in 2022 and created SMI Civil & Structural.

“Sixty years is a long time,” Herzog said. “Especially with the volatility in the construction industry. It makes it that much more special to reach the 60-year mark.”

More about A.C.E.
A.C.E. provides commercial and industrial construction services, including new buildings, expansions, renovations, metal re-roof, facilities maintenance, design/build and build/lease.

“Part of our business deals with pre-engineered metal buildings, but like anything else, that’s cyclical,” Herzog said. “It’s not the only thing we do, but it just so happens the last couple of years – with the growth happening nationwide – many of our projects entail large volumes of square footage needed for warehouses and manufacturing.”

Herzog said though A.C.E. is a design/build contractor specializing in many different types and sizes of projects, pre-engineered steel structures are where the company’s roots lie.

“The fact we have grown to a level to be included in the 100 Top Metal Builders is something we take great pride in,” he said.

Herzog said A.C.E. caters to any type of commercial or industrial project.

“Whether that’s an office renovation, a new bank or an expansion for a dentist,” he said. “You name it, we’ve probably done it at some point.”

A glance at the company’s website ( shows A.C.E. has done construction work at multiple Menards locations, Lakeshore Technical College, University of Wisconsin-Manitowoc, Newton Meats, Port Cities Animal Hospital, Manitowoc Grey Iron Foundry and Maribel Fire Department – to name a few.

In a competitive job market with unemployment at an all-time low, Herzog said A.C.E. tries to do what it can to attract quality employees.

“It’s also about retaining great employees and finding that life-work balance,” he said. “Our mentality is, ‘Work hard, play hard.’ We offer flexible work hours and will do something as simple as having a food truck pop in when we are having a safety meeting. We like to keep the atmosphere casual where our employees like coming to work every day – it is important to us.”

Because the success of the construction industry is subject to many things – like an unpredictable pandemic – forecasting the future, Herzog said, is difficult.

“Having said that, the future of A.C.E. is bright,” he said. “We have surrounded ourselves with strong partners and excellent teammates. In today’s labor market, it is hard to find employees – nobody is a stranger to that. We have built a core group of people from the bottom to the top of our organization.”

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