Across the state, construction is moving forward, even in the middle of winter.
That's certianly the case for Ryan Stichman, sales manager at S-Bar-S Building Center in Billings, Mont., who said they have been busy.
"We just ran a special on calf shelters for $795 and sold a lot of those," he said.
The smaller buildings, like the calf shelters and range shelters, the company builds in Billings then ships to the customer. Larger buildings, such as post or pole frame buildings, all-steel buildings and ProTec buildings, they build on site.
Those who bought calf or range shelters this year are appreciating them during this long, cold winter. With their durability and warranty, they will be able to appreciate them for years more.
Calf shelters are smaller than range shelters, typically measuring 8 x 16 feet. They stand five feet tall at the front and only four feet at the back. A bar, made from a 2 x 6-inch piece of lumber, goes across the front opening.
"The calf can go under that bar and get inside the building for protection but the bar keeps the larger animals out," Stichman said, explaining that means the shelter cannot be over run by larger stock.
Range shelters are larger, though they are still considered portable. The largest measures 12 x 32 feet and weighs about 2,000 pounds. S-Bar-S can attach cables to the buildings so farmers and ranchers can hook onto them with a chain and drag them around.
Stichman said the buildings are a single slope design, open on one side. Again, those buildings are constructed in Billings and shipped anywhere they are needed.
"People use them for horses and cattle. They provide shade and protection from the wind and weather," he said.
For larger needs, customers have to decide between wood, steel or canvas. The ProTec canvas buildings come with a 15-year warranty, although Stichman said there are many canvas buildings that are 20 years old and the canvas is still strong and functioning.
"Our canvas comes out of South Dakota and people like the buildings. They provide a lot of natural light, which is a huge advantage. Whatever is outside, you're gaining that sunlight inside," he said.
The buildings can be a tremendous savings on an electric bill or work where there is no electricity. Of course, the buildings can also be wired for lighting if desired.
Another feature people like about the ProTec canvas buildings is that they can get up to 30 feet at the center. They also shed snow and moisture more quickly than other buildings.
"They do require ventilation to keep condensation from occurring inside," he said.
S-Bar-S also offers all steel buildings. That means all steel framing and structure, steel siding and even steel roofs.
Their most popular, however, are their post or pole frame buildings.
"Post frame is our specialty," said Stichman. It is also the most common choice for agriculture.
"The post frame is one of the most economical buildings you can put up," affirmed Dan McGough, vice president at S-Bar-S. McGough said a large reason for the cost savings is that concrete is not required. "You can just build it on your level ground."
McGough also said post frame buildings are easy to finish off on the inside. "We can insulate and finish it off so you can turn it into a machine shop or whatever you need," he said.
S-Bar-S is a general contractor and takes pride in creating turn-key structures for their customers. "That means we do it all from the beginning of construction right up until the time we hand the customer the key," McGough said. They can take a building from the ground up, including concrete work, wiring, sheet rocking and finishing.
Because they are also a lumber and hardware supplier, S-Bar-S - which has been in business for 40 years - purchases their building materials mill-direct to pass savings along to their customers.
"We provide our own lumber and build our own trusses," Stichman commented.
That includes elongated spans to accommodate single doors up to 40 feet wide. That is a lot of space for moving farm equipment, swathers, balers, even airplanes, in and out of the buildings.
"We our licensed, bonded and insured and our crews are our crews. We don't sub out the labor. When workers show up to build at a site, they are our employees," Stichman explained.
They have sent their workers all across Montana, up to the Canadian border and down into Wyoming. Currently they are doing a lot of projects in eastern Montana, putting in several large buildings there.
"Construction has picked up, especially agriculture construction," said McGough. "With farmers and ranchers having such good cattle and grain prices, now is a good time for them to build those buildings they've been thinking about."
Whether that is a calf shelter, calving barn, airplane hanger, machine shed or riding arena, S-Bar-S can build it on site or ship it.