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Center for the Arts construction boosts economy

September 23, 2013 1:30PM

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Unique Metal Fabrications employees James Kukovich (holding the plans) and Anthony Hill prepare the grand staircase, which will be an important feature in the new Center for the Arts.

As Pittsburg State University’s $33 million Center for the Arts rises, it is changing the both the skyline on the south end of town and the campus footprint.

A project this massive has other, less visible effects on a community, however. It creates jobs and pumps life into the local economy through contractors and sub contractors who build and equip the structure.

One of those is Unique Metal Fabrications, Inc., a Pittsburg industry that supplies steel for large and small projects throughout the Midwest.

Chris Rakestraw, project manager at Unique Metals, said the company has supplied and fabricated more than a million pounds of steel for the Center for the Arts.

“It’s a complex job,” Rakestraw said. “It’s not a simple job at all.”

As Rakestraw spoke, workers in the company’s cavernous shop were putting the finishing touches on the grand staircase for the Center for the Arts.

This is not the first PSU project for which Unique Metals has supplied steel. In the company offices, a photo gallery of projects includes Carnie Smith Stadium, the Kansas Technology Center, and the PSU Student Recreation Center.

The photos of campus projects are interspersed among others of projects in communities throughout the four-state area including schools, hospitals and even a minor-league baseball stadium.

“We do a lot of big jobs,” said Matt Pinamonti, vice president of business development, “but we’re not too big to take on the small jobs, too.”

Whether the job is big or little, he said, quality, precision and attention to detail are the watchwords the company lives by. The company uses the latest technology to ensure it meets the exacting standards of modern construction.

“A lot of it gets back to the detailing software we use,” Rakestraw said. “The drawings can be imported directly into our CNC machinery.”

Growth and new technology haven’t changed the hometown culture at Unique Metals both Rakestraw and Pinamonti said.

“Our roots are here. Adam Endicott started the business in his garage in 1983,” Rakestraw said.

Today, the company employs about 35 and at any given time, workers are handling multiple orders in the 125,000-square-foot shop.

Every job, regardless of size or destination, is handled with care, but Pinamonti and Rakestraw, who are both PSU alumni, said the hometown jobs are somehow special.

“Everybody out here takes a lot of pride in their work,” Pinamonti said, “but especially on these hometown projects. Everybody’s game is elevated just a little bit.”

©2013 Pittsburg State University