Sp rung into Ac­tion

Over four gen­er­a­tions, Sprung Struc­tures has gone from can­vas wall tents to fully in­su­lated, multi-storey “stressed-mem­brane” build­ings

Alberta Venture - - The Briefing -

>>> Sprung Struc­tures, a man­u­fac­turer of “stressed-mem­brane” build­ings head­quar­tered in the ham­let of Alder­syde, south of Cal­gary, can trace its roots to Philip Dor­land Sprung who, be­gin­ning in 1887, made can­vas prod­ucts for the wall tents, chuck wag­ons and mat­tresses that were de­manded in a grow­ing West.

Philip Don­ald Sprung (right), great grand­son of the founder and now CEO, says cur­rent suc­cess can be traced to his fa­ther, who patented struc­tures that will not fail in heavy winds or un­der a snow load. Now with hun­dreds of sports com­plexes, ware­houses and mil­i­tary in­stal­la­tions un­der its belt, Sprung – the com­pany – has 400 em­ploy­ees and of­fices in Utah and Bahrain, off the coast of Saudi Ara­bia.

Sprung’s struc­tures are made of a PVC-coated polyester mem­brane pulled tight over light­weight, long-last­ing alu­minum I-beams. “The trick is that it is placed un­der ex­tremely high ten­sion,” Sprung says. “The se­cret to the longevity of a fab­ric is to limit or elim­i­nate move­ment.”

The struc­tures can be built in as few as 90 days, can be taken down and moved and come in in­su­lated edi­tions. The in­su­la­tion and PVC coat­ings ex­tend the fab­ric’s life to 30 years. “It pushes us into the per­ma­nent-struc­ture mar­ket,” Sprung says. “Af­ter 30 years, you reroof your build­ing like you would a con­ven­tional build­ing, ex­cept with a new ex­te­rior mem­brane.”

Sprung has had an of­fice in the Mid­dle East since 1973, serv­ing civil­ian and mil­i­tary clients. “We’ve sup­ported U.S., Cana­dian and Aus­tralian forces by pre-po­si­tion­ing in­ven­tory for quick de­liv­ery to the var­i­ous the­atres,” Sprung says. “In­su­la­tion is prob­a­bly even more im­por­tant from an en­ergy stand­point in warm cli­mates than it is in cold be­cause air con­di­tion­ing is in­cred­i­bly ex­pen­sive.”

As for the fifth gen­er­a­tion, Sprung’s daugh­ter, Shelbi, is wrap­ping up a mas­ter’s de­gree in busi­ness and in­tends to join the com­pany. Sprung says oth­ers among the 11 mem­bers of the com­pany’s fifth gen­er­a­tion have also shown in­ter­est. “We’re hop­ing for a smooth tran­si­tion,” he says.

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