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A Winning Partnership Since 1957 — Butler Manufacturing™ & Rice Companies

Conventional Steel and Pre-Engineered Steel are key to the success of this Butler Builder®.

There’s a construction company in Minnesota that has been building partnerships with customers for nearly seven decades. Still family owned, Rice Companies got its start in 1953 and became a Butler Builder just four years later.

“My grandfather saw the potential for steel buildings and commercial construction in the post-war period,” said Chis Rice, the current CEO/President.

That potential proved to be real, and Butler Manufacturing helped to facilitate the transition. The move allowed Rice Companies to get in on the proverbial “ground floor” with many commercial customers. As those customers grew into large organizations, Rice Companies grew with them, becoming one of the leading construction firms in Minnesota with four locations – the most recent being a Fargo, ND office that opened March 1, 2020.

“Butler gives us capabilities, tools, and products that allow us to be a better construction company,” Chris said.

But beyond that, he said it’s the partnership between Rice Companies and Butler®—from a business perspective—that has been the real game changer. Chris described what he calls a culture of collaboration from design to engineering to the area manager who serves as the main point of contact between Butler and Rice Companies. “We sell that partnership,” he said, because Butler helps them stay on top of important factors in the construction world like trends, designs, and energy codes.

The climate conditions that Rice Companies faces in the northern U.S. demand heavier, well-insulated buildings. “We use U-Facts™ all the time,” Chris said, referring to one of Butler’s software tools for ensuring energy code compliance.

Chris Rice
Chris Rice

With that much history and success as a Butler Builder, you might think Rice Companies follows a standard recipe with Butler pre-engineered steel buildings. But that’s not entirely the case. Chris explained that nearly every building they construct contains some Butler products, but most of their projects would be described as using the hybrid construction method.

Throughout their history, Rice Companies made frequent use of conventional steel in many projects. So, they were pleased when Butler decided to expand its offering to include conventional steel services.

“We pushed Butler to get into conventional steel for all the right reasons,” Chris said.

While a local fab shop is always an option, the ease of having a single source for the conventional and pre-engineered products is compelling when you’re juggling the complex schedules of a construction project.

Butler Conventional Steel Services offerings are now part of many projects at Rice Companies. Chris explained some of the reasons why, including the fact that Rice Companies has structural engineering on staff, and they have developed a good process for collaborating with the Butler engineering team. Also, Butler conventional steel is still bolted, not welded.

“We’re able to use the same crews who erect our pre-engineered projects,” Chris said.

Rice Companies_Blog_Image
Rice Companies Graphic

Rice Companies does not specialize in any one type of construction, but they have a strong history in the food and beverage industry with many cold warehousing, food manufacturing, and grocery store projects in their portfolio.

Thanks to founder Jack Rice’s astute mind for business in recognizing the potential for steel buildings, Rice Companies has built partnerships with these customers (as well as Butler) over the years and is positioned well for growth in the future.

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