American-Made Structural Steel Reinforces Replacement Casino

◆ By Mike Hiles

The Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians replacement casino and resort project has moved to the next level by installing 5,500 tons of structural steel that will allow the construction to move upwards.

Tom Groenendal, Senior Superintendent for C.W. Driver, said the replacement casino will use 3,900 tons of the product and the hotel will take the other 1,600 tons.

"The structural steel for this project acts as the backbone for the entire project; it supports all other elements of the project," he said. "It will take roughly nine to 12 weeks to get all the steel in place."

Oklahoma City-based W&W/AFCO Steel was chosen after the scope of work was sent out for proposals from five companies, two of whom could not meet the schedule and did not bid.

"W&W was selected as a best value partner and presented 'outside the box' ideas to meet the schedule," Groenendal said. "Before the steel could be placed we had to complete mass excavation and grading (leveling of the site), and have rebar and concrete in place for the foundations and walls that support the steel."

The American-made steel is being fabricated in Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado, Arkansas and Arizona. Delivery of beams began on Sept. 11.

"We don't purchase any foreign material for our projects, nor are we ever intending to do so," said Tim Hunter, W&W/AFCO Steel Vice President/Project Manager. "W&W Steel has been in business since 1945 and AFCO opened in 1909; for a combined total of 180 years of experience."

Hunter said several members of his company's team visited the site prior to submitting a bid and felt the location was similar to other projects W&W/AFCO Steel has completed with success and that the scope of work fit in well with past projects.

"As the largest steel fabricator and erector in the United States, we have specific strengths on which we relied for the Soboba Casino and Hotel projects," he said. "Our strategic geographical location next to the steel mill allows for us to expedite the process. Among these are the in-house production of the shop drawings, as well as utilizing all five fabrication facilities on this single project. Tapping into these resources allowed us to meet the demands of a tight schedule of this project size."

Among its many Southern California area projects, the company has contributed structural steel to the Rose Bowl Stadium Renovation, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, LAX Control Tower, Palm Springs Convention Center, Pixar Animation Studios, Anaheim Angels Baseball Stadium and the Long Beach Convention Center.

"This is considered a medium-sized project for us," said Hunter, who is tasked with managing the project from the executive level, tracking and often coordinating activities on a daily basis. "We received our California Contractors license in 1982 and have consistently been a powerful player in that market. We are always active in pursuits of this region."

Groenendal said experts in all facets of construction are working on the Soboba project using their skill and proficiency on grading, concrete, rebar, structural steel, metal decking, framing, roofing, millwork, mechanical, electrical, plumbing and fire protection just to name a few. Once all the structural steel has been erected, the roof and walls will be completed so interior work can begin.