Business Monday

ADF International: Canadian steel fabricator is backbone of major construction projects in Florida

Beam team: Talia Paschini, estimating director for ADF International, and husband Alexis Giroux, commercial director, at their Quebec-based firm’s company’s office in Miami Gardens on Tuesday, Dec. 2. The Quebec-based company designs, engineers, fabricates and installs structural steel for construction projects throughout the Americas.
Beam team: Talia Paschini, estimating director for ADF International, and husband Alexis Giroux, commercial director, at their Quebec-based firm’s company’s office in Miami Gardens on Tuesday, Dec. 2. The Quebec-based company designs, engineers, fabricates and installs structural steel for construction projects throughout the Americas. FOR THE MIAMI HERALD

ADF International, a Canadian steel-fabrication company with regional headquarters in Miami Gardens, assembled and installed more than 9,700 tons of structural steel used in construction of the Adrienne Arsht Center in Miami.

It also engineered, fabricated, assembled and installed 3,000 tons of steel for the New World Symphony America’s Orchestra Academy in Miami Beach, 2,200 tons of steel for Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport in Puerto Rico, and has worked on 10 projects at Miami International Airport.

One of the crowning achievements of this international firm, which works as a key subcontractor in major construction projects, was the building and installation of the base and mast of the huge antenna atop One World Trade Center in New York City, also called the Freedom Tower.

“We design, engineer, fabricate and install structural steel, mainly for large construction projects, and we excel in complex geometrical designs,” said Talia Paschini, a structural engineer who is the estimating director at ADF’s Miami Gardens office.

“We fabricate the structures at either our main plant in Terrebonne, Quebec, or at our new plant in Great Falls, Montana, and ship them to wherever our projects are located,” said Paschini, who is from Laval, Quebec, and earned an engineering degree at Montreal’s École Polytechnique.

Alexis Giroux, a mechanical engineer who is ADF’s commercial director and also based in Miami Gardens, said the company opened its first office in Florida in 1992 in Coral Springs, and moved to its current, 10,000-square-foot property in 2011. “We came here to be closer to our projects, and even more important, to be closer to our clients,” said Giroux, who is from Mont-Tremblant, Quebec, and also earned an engineering degree at the École Polytechnique.

The two, who are married to each other, arrived in Miami Gardens a year ago to take over ADF’s regional office, which handles sales, business development and project estimates for the southeast U.S., the Caribbean and Latin America, and represents an important share of the company’s business. They met while studying engineering at the École Polytechnique.

“ADF has been working in Florida for many years,” Giroux said. “Our regional projects include different phases of the north and south terminals at Miami International Airport, the Adrienne Arsht Center, the Disney World Sport Complex, the New World Symphony campus, the Centaur rocket processing center in Cape Canaveral, as well as airport buildings in Tampa and Puerto Rico.” ADF also has done projects in Jamaica and El Salvador.

The company currently is working on airport projects in Miami and Fort Lauderdale, as well as a “climate ribbon” at the Brickell City Centre, an elevated trellis covering 150,000 square feet that will connect sections of the development. Made of steel, fabric and glass, it is designed to protect shoppers from sun and rain, collect rainwater and create a microclimate in the complex.

ADF has six full-time employees in Miami Gardens. To handle projects, ADF contacts the international steelworkers’ locals in Miami, Orlando and other cities. When the Arsht center was being built, ADF had about 125 skilled steelworkers on the project.

“Unlike some international companies that bring in workers from overseas, we always use American unionized steelworkers on our projects here,” Giroux said.

The Miami Gardens property at 3301 NW 168th St. includes offices, a warehouse, a small fabrication shop and a storage yard.

ADF’s work is highly complex, and requires each step in the project development process to be carried out with precision — and on time.

When ADF provides design and engineering services to a client, it works with the project’s developers, using sophisticated software to generate 3D modeling.

Once a design is approved, ADF’s Quebec or Montana manufacturing center orders tons of steel and ships it to the fabrication center.

Data from the computer model is transmitted to machines that fabricate each part. The many parts are then put together like a giant — and very heavy — Erector Set.

“We assemble the entire structure at the fabrication site to make sure it fits and meets all the specifications,” said Paschini. “Then we take it apart and ship it to the project site.”

This step can be a challenge because large steel structures have to be broken down into pieces that can fit onto a barge, train or flatbed truck. All the parts shipped overland have to be able to fit under highway and railroad bridges.

Once the sections arrive at their destination, ADF reassembles them and, working with a general contractor, helps integrate it into the overall project.

For example, at the Adrienne Arsht Center, ADF supplied steel structures and other metals that would fit into the center’s complex geometry. It used more than 9,700 tons of steel for the center’s 495,000 square feet of space in two main buildings.

The steel skeleton built by ADF included 14 main trusses weighing 40 tons each for the concert hall and 18 trusses weighing 65 tons each for the ballet hall.

ADF, a highly specialized company, is one of the largest of its type in North America, but there are competitors in the United States, Germany, Italy and Asia.

“To compete effectively and reduce costs, we have highly skilled personnel, advanced 3D software and state-of-the-art precision computer machinery,” Giroux said.

In addition to overseeing ADF’s projects, Giroux and Paschini are working to line up new projects in the Southeast, Latin America and the Caribbean. The company did not want to reveal the names of potential new customers for competitive reasons, but it sees good potential for new business in Latin America, Giroux said.

But Miami is a focal point for new business. “Commercial real estate is booming in Miami,” said Paschini. “Look at all the projects in the Brickell area and the Design District,” she said.

What does ADF mean?

ADF started out as a small business founded by Paschini’s grandfather, Giacomo (Jacques) Paschini in 1956, who moved to Canada from Italy. Eventually, it expanded its services, grew into a larger, family-owned enterprise and later became a publicly traded company.

“My grandfather started out making ornamental, wrought iron designs at his forge,” said Paschini. “One of his favorites was a dragon design, and he named the company ‘At the Dragon Forge,’” in French.

The French and English versions both work out to ADF, she noted.

ADF International Inc.

Business: ADF International is a subsidiary of ADF Group, a company based in Canada that designs, engineers, fabricates and installs complex steel structures for nonresidential construction projects such as airport buildings, commercial and industrial structures, transportation and recreational complexes. The Miami Gardens office is the hub for regional sales, business development and project estimates.

Head office: Terrebonne, Quebec, Canada

Regional headquarters: Miami Gardens (covers Florida and the southeast U.S., Latin America and the Caribbean)

Regional management: Alexis Giroux, commercial director; Talia Paschini, estimating director; Serge Brisson, construction manager

Company founding: ADF Group, the parent company, was founded in Quebec in 1956 by Giacomo (Jacques) Paschini, who moved to Canada from his native Italy and started a wrought iron business. ADF opened its first Florida office in Coral Springs in 1992.

Facilities: In Miami Gardens, offices, warehouse and fabrication shop on 10,000 square feet of property; in Canada, 2 million square feet of property and 100,000 tons of steel-fabrication capacity per year; in Montana, 100 acres with 25,000 tons of annual steel fabrication capacity.

Regional projects: The Adrienne Arsht Center, New World Symphony academy campus, Miami International Airport (north and south terminals), Tampa International Airport’s Airside A terminal, Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport in Puerto Rico, and steel bridges and canopies in Jamaica.

Ownership: Publicly traded

Employees: Six full-time employees in Miami Gardens. When working on regional projects, ADF may contract over 200 skilled workers from local steelworkers’ unions in Miami, West Palm Beach, Orlando and other cities.

Website: www.adfgroup.com

Source: ADF International

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