DENHAM SPRINGS – Superior Steel LLC is located not that far from a river in Denham Springs.

But it was the work the steel fabricator did almost on top of another, bigger river that brought it the top award from a steel supplier.

Vulcraft, a subsidiary of the Nucor Corp., one of the largest steel producers in the U.S., presented Superior Steel with its 2018 NuHeights Design Award Building of the Year honor. Superior Steel provided the steel and erection work on The Water Institute of the Gulf in Baton Rouge.

President/General Manager Joe Easley, who founded Superior Steel in 1967, told the audience a project like the Water Institute can inspire a company.

“You see one that catches fire and it gets everyone going,” Easley said.

And everyone takes part in the process.

“We used so much paint, we (could have) painted all of our cars," Easley joked.

“This is the first time we scored a building (award),” he added. “In 25 to 30 years, maybe we will put another one on the board.”

Superior Steel moved to its 20-acre site on Hatchell Lane five years ago. The steel fabricator has worked from Louisiana to New Jersey, including such projects as Alex Box Stadium at LSU and Istrouma Baptist Church in Baton Rouge.

District sales manager Sam Box, of Vulcraft, said the NuHeights Awards recognize excellence in design and construction using its joists, girders, steel decking or roof decking.

Besides a plaque, Superior Steel will be recognized in Vulcraft’s 2018 calendar. Each month shows the winner of a construction category. The categories range from commercial, recreation and education to manufacturing/industrial, institutional and transportation.

Twelve projects are recognized and from them the building of the year is named. To celebrate, Vulcraft sponsored a dinner for Superior Steel.

“It’s great building, a great design. A beautiful building,” said Joey Easley, vice president of Superior Steel. “The Water Building definitely stands out and replaces the Old State Capitol as the best building on the river.”

Superior Steel provided all the structural steel, joists and decking, he said, through Vulcraft, and did the erection.

“Everyone in this tent helped to make it come true,” said Buddy Ragland, of Coleman Partners Architects, of Baton Rouge, to the almost 200 guests and employees.

“It’s a very cool building,” Ragland said. “These projects don’t come along very often. The 35,000-square-foot office and conference center will be used by the Water campus and public.”

Working in downtown Baton Rouge wasn’t as big a challenge as working on the Mississippi River.

“It was a rare work environment,” Ragland said, as a contractor like Superior Steel had to figure out how to get to the site, do its work and get out while dealing with the cycle of the river’s height.

“This was not a square-box building,” according to Joey Easley, which required steel cut to the architect’s design.

Superior Steel’s work took almost a year, Easley said, working the project then coming back after another contractor did its part to do the next stage.

“This is a quality team that put out a quality team effort,” he said. “We put a lot of challenges on these guys and they met the challenge. We tried it. If it didn’t work, we tried it again until it worked.

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