AK Builders – Minnesota
Little did he know it at the time, but Andrew Kunz began learning the basics of what would turn into his career during a high school carpentry class. Soon after graduating, he put those skills to work with a contractor and launched his professional life in post-frame construction. A decade ago, he started AK Builders—but he's still learning, adopting best practices, and embracing industry advancements.
"I'm not a builder that's going to be stuck in my ways," he says. "If I see that something is going to enable us to provide a more quality product to the customer, 100% I'm going to use it."
Perma-Column is one of those advancements—and he's not going back.
"When I'm doing a post-frame building, it's going to be a Perma-Column foundation. We will not skimp on that."
Three years ago, AK Builders began building exclusively with Perma-Column. It was a business decision, but his customers benefit too.
"I was researching for ways to set AK Builders apart from the competition and to provide the best products for customers. I found it with Perma-Column," says Kunz, whose Dent, Minnesota, company serves Northwest Minnesota and parts of North and South Dakota. "I want to provide the customer with the best building materials, so they get the best building for the best cost. Spending a little more gets them a solid foundation that will last a lifetime."
Kunz appreciates he can build foundations quickly and year-round with Perma-Column.
"In the winter months, with shortened daylight hours, we want to maximize every minute," he says. "With Perma-Column, you can work faster, with a smaller crew and still make the most of each day on the job."
As an upper Midwest and Plains regions builder, Kunz is adamant about protecting his customers' structures—and investments—from the elements. That drives his dedication to building with Perma-Column. "With the significant dollars customers are investing, it's important each building has a solid foundation that will last," Kunz says.
The shortcomings of a wood foundation are evident in a structure—built in 1986—near his shop with posts buried in the ground. It's a good structure constructed by a builder he respects, but each year it visibly heaves up and down with the freeze-thaw cycle. Three years ago, he noticed the telltale signs of rot. "To me, that's not a true 50-year warranty," he says.
In contrast, AK Builders recently started a project on similarly sandy soil. "This building we're doing right now, we're using the wet-set Sturdi-Wall® brackets from Perma-Column," Kunz said. "When we drilled our holes, there was almost 18 inches of standing water in each hole. We had the perfect solution." Kunz's team members didn't think they could get sufficient compaction in these soil conditions, so instead of precast columns, they poured concrete to help maximize strength of the footing. Then, they topped off the concrete with Sturdi-Wall® Plus brackets.
More than anything, Kunz is an evangelist for the longevity of Perma-Column. "Never lose sight of your goals and remember that delivering for your customers will help you achieve them."