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Design Systems Builders Finds Success Through Partnership

For Nashville-Based Butler Builder, Collaboration Is Key

Assertions of being a “good partner” or the “right partner for you” have been popular in sales and marketing jargon for decades. Unfortunately, these claims have been diluted by too many companies proving – through action or inaction – that they are little more than hollow claims. And so, the claim of partnership has fallen into the depths of business clichés. 

It’s unfortunate. Because there are companies out there that truly deliver on the promise. They enhance the business experience, deliver true value, and ask for nothing more in return than a fair price and a warm handshake.  

And they do exist. In fact, there’s a Butler Builder® in Nashville that has been “walking the talk” for nearly half a century.  

In 1958, Ted Frierson founded a general contracting company in Nashville, TN, called T.W. Frierson Contractor, Inc. His company met the construction needs of local businesses and quickly started to grow. Less than 20 years into the venture, the company (now 100% Employee Owned) saw huge potential in the area of pre-engineered metal buildings (PEMB), which had proven to be incredibly effective for industrial and commercial buildings. 

So, rather than just add it as an optional service within their company, they went all in. In 1976, they created an entire company, called Design Systems Builders, LLC (DSB), which would specialize in the construction of PEMB. But the specialization didn’t stop there. They also committed to focusing solely on what they saw as the premium products offered by Butler Manufacturing™.

DSB Team at the 2022 Butler Builder Meeting
DSB Team at the 2022 Butler Builder Meeting

A Laser Focus On Butler Projects   

DSB is unique in many ways, starting with the fact that they work exclusively with Butler® PEMB projects. Shortly after becoming a Butler Builder in 1976, they made the decision to self-perform all steel erection starting in 1979. This is something very few builders are able to commit to, but in their eyes, it gives them the control over quality that they want to ensure the best outcome for their clients. 

“Design Systems Builders has been successful due to our ability to concentrate on just the Butler product,” said Guy Harris, Vice President. “When you have total control of the erection of a building, and that’s all you do every day, it’s a recipe for success.” 

This laser focus on Butler projects over the course of nearly five decades has created a true partnership between DSB and Butler. Construction is a problem-solving business, and DSB has a history of teaming up with the resources at Butler to solve them.

Chris Carson, the Butler Area Manager who works with DSB summed it up this way: “No matter what we get into, there’s never a cross word [from the people at DSB]. We just put our heads together to figure things out. It’s clear they always want Butler to succeed.”

Partnering With Other Contractors  

There’s no shortage of stories where a Butler Builder jumps in to help another construction company accomplish a project. Teaming up with other General Contractors, fellow Butler Builders, and Developers is part of the business development plan at DSB. When the scope of a project exceeds what other construction companies have the resources or ability to complete, DSB partners with them to get the job done. 

Guy Harris Headshot
Guy Harris, DSB Vice President

A prime example of this unfolded with an opportunity to construct a new greenfield aluminum processing plant for Constellium-UACJ in Bowling Green, KY. DSB teamed up with global engineering and construction company, Fluor, on the 100,000 metric tons per annum aluminum automotive sheet facility.

The overall project included a 216,000 sq. ft. and 75’ tall mill building, an attached administrative office, and a detached 10,500 sq. ft. wastewater treatment facility. By delivering the job using the design-build approach, self-performing work, and providing and erecting Butler PEMB systems, DSB was able to meet the aggressive schedule.

In another case, DSB was tapped to help Cianbro Corporation on a project for Puritan Medical Products in Orlinda, TN. The massive structure offered plenty of work for everyone, so DSB handled the complex re-roof and wall panel replacement portion, upgrading the insulated metal wall panels and covering the 195,900 sq. ft. structure with Butler’s MR-24® roof system. To accommodate the tight schedule, the DSB roofing team averaged 8,000 sq. ft. of roof per day.

When asked what allowed them to be successful in the face of many challenges, DSB officials pointed to the “basics” of face-to-face communication, proper planning, and accountability.

Every day the DSB foreman and superintendent carve out time to meet with the general contractor to discuss current project constraints, the status of critical items, and the next steps. It’s an effective way to minimize surprises and keep massive projects on track.

And that’s exactly what a true partner would do.

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