- Associated Press - Saturday, October 10, 2015

SALINA, Kan. (AP) - A Salina company is playing a key role in blocking the sun for football fans in the Sunshine State.

PKM Steel is fabricating 450 tons of steel trusses to support a canopy that will shade 92 percent of the fans at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. The stadium will be open in the middle to allow for a natural grass turf.

Sun Life Stadium, better known as the Orange Bowl, is the home of the Miami Dolphins and University of Miami Hurricanes.

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“We are doing a pretty small piece of the puzzle, but it is a pretty important piece,” said Darien Henderson, director of business development for the company, founded in 1962.

The company is making the trusses which support a canopy independent of the existing structure, which can seat more than 65,000 fans. In all, the project will contain 14,000 tons of steel, The Salina Journal (https://bit.ly/1LgxjHK ) reports.

If that seems like a huge project for a steel fabricator in the middle of Kansas, it’s not. It’s small compared to most of the projects tackled by PKM Steel.

“We are limited only by what we can ship,” said Frieda Mai-Weis, president of PKM Steel. “Historically, we have done a lot of large projects around the United States. We have done multiple aircraft hangars and large distribution centers.”

“We ship by rail or truck. If there was a river out here, we would do it by barge,” Henderson said.

The oversize loads of 14-foot-wide, 32-foot-long trusses, each weighing 16,000 pounds, were fabricated and painted white in Salina.

They were shipped to Florida by truck.

Sun Life Stadium has hosted five Super Bowls, four BCS National Championships, two World Series and was the first stadium to host the NFL Pro Bowl after 30 years of the game being held in Hawaii. The modernization of the stadium, which began in July 2014, includes four high-definition video boards.=

Sun Life Stadium is dwarfed in size by Denver International Airport and Purdue University, other projects with which PKM Steel has been involved.

The midfield concourses at the Denver airport allow passengers to be screened in a central location and then transported via a rail system to three different passenger concourses. That project involved 14,000 tons of steel.

Construction of educational facilities at West Lafayette, Indiana, involved 15,000 tons of steel.

PKM also has worked on two Las Vegas casinos and a 45-story office building in Des Moines, Iowa.

PKM Steel trusses also can be seen at Bramlage Coliseum on the Kansas State University campus in Manhattan.

Henderson said the size of the Salina facility allows workers to weld and fabricate steel that most companies couldn’t accommodate.

“Our truss bay can pick up 80 tons at a time, 160,000 pounds,” he said. “There are just not a lot of shops capable of doing that. When people think about big stuff they think about PKM.”

Henderson said the company has worked in every state except Hawaii.

PKM Steel was founded by Paul K. Mai in 1962.

Mai-Weis said that after her father emigrated from Germany to the United States he came to Salina to work on missile silos.

“When he came over here in ‘58, he was very wise on steel. That is how he got in this business,” Henderson said.

Mai still has a hand in steel, visiting the plant weekly.

In 1962, he and a partner formed Mai Goedecke Machine.

According to the book “Immigrant Worker,” about Mai’s life, he put a portable welder and a cutting torch in the bed of “this ugly orange pickup that he drove all over town.”


Information from: The Salina (Kan.) Journal, https://www.salina.com

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