Seismic Expertise on a Global Scale

Written by Ryan Cartner

CoreBrace manufactures state-of-the-art structural components, known as buckling-restrained braces (BRBs), designed to help a building withstand the kind of lateral movement experienced during an earthquake. The company headquarters is located in West Jordan, Utah with fabrication facilities in Pocatello, Idaho, and serves customers around the globe. “We save lives and protect properties by making structures more resilient and more capable of withstanding the demands of seismic loading,” says General Manager Mike Linford.
The company began developing buckling-restrained braces in 2001. At the time, there were only a few projects in the United States using the technology, having imported the braces from foreign manufacturers. A few local contractors immediately identified the value in the product, but there were logistical challenges associated with importing the braces from overseas, and the costs were so high that the market was relatively small. A group of entrepreneurial people realized that there was room in the American market for domestic producers of buckling-restrained braces, raised some research and development capital, and began doing some preliminary analysis.

Within a year, the first series of braces were being tested at the University of Utah. After very promising results, additional braces were tested and in June of 2002 CoreBrace, LLC was incorporated.

In 2011, with the addition of several key individuals, the company began to streamline its fabrication processes and increase marketing efforts within the engineering community. As a result, its growth curve increased significantly. Since then, it has expanded into many countries. Today, roughly ten percent of its product finds its way into foreign markets; approximately eighty percent ends up on the western coast of the United States, and the rest finds its way into various projects throughout the country.

CoreBrace’s global reach is the result of a need around the world for a dependable way to protect structures from the devastating potential of earthquakes. As a building moves back and forth during an earthquake, the structural components that hold the building’s frame together need some degree of flexibility to accommodate that movement. Traditional braces are prone to buckling under axial compression, meaning that when they are axially loaded, the traditional steel braces will bend and break. Buckling restrained braces are designed with a flexible steel core, a rigid exterior casing to support the core, and a de-bonding layer that keeps the core and the casing separate. The result is a ductile brace that permits the structure to accommodate the lateral movements that occur during a seismic event.

The quality of these products has won it the confidence of engineers, contractors, and developers in some of the world’s most active seismic regions. This year, CoreBrace received the President’s ‘E’ award, issued by the Department of Commerce. This award is given to companies that make significant contributions to the expansion of the export trade of the United States.

CoreBrace is headquartered outside of Salt Lake City, Utah in a city called West Jordan where it has about twenty-five experts, consisting of structural engineers, project managers, and administration and drafting staff. In Pocatello, Idaho, roughly two hours north of its headquarters, the company has a dedicated shop with 80,000 square feet of manufacturing space, furnished with the latest equipment, where it builds buckling-restrained braces.

The company has approximately one hundred dedicated technicians operating its factory, developing the most advanced lateral-load handling braces in the world. “In our Pocatello shop, we don’t do anything but BRBs,” says Linford. “We do a lot of them, and we do them well.”

The company leadership believes that its people, and the relationships they form with customers are its greatest assets. It takes pride in seeking out and hiring some of the best talent available, which has resulted in an unrivaled ability to navigate the challenges of any project.

“We take a teamwork approach,” says Linford. “Everyone works together. We have very strong relationships with our clients, and most of our work is done for repeat customers.” CoreBrace aims to build lasting partnerships with its clients by doing everything in its power to simplify the experiences of building owners, contractors, designers, and the structural steel fabricators that eventually buy its products. “We treat them as though they’re part of the team, and we do all we can to service their needs and make their lives as easy as possible.”

This CoreBrace team is made up of some of the best and brightest in the industry. Recently, CoreBrace’s Chief Engineer Maria Chumbita was recognized by Utah Business Magazine as one of Utah’s top thirty business women to watch.

Working to understand the needs of its customers to build relationships that last is a vital component of the CoreBrace approach, but a dedication to continual improvement of the product and the offering is just as important. CoreBrace is a progressive company, always looking for opportunities to improve efficiencies and provide its customers with the confidence that their buildings are designed and built to the latest standards, and that the structural components used represent the most modern option in the industry.

After nearly two decades operating in the industry, providing customers with that level of confidence has led to a solid reputation. CoreBrace has a vast portfolio of work consisting of many noteworthy structures. “We’ve done well over one thousand projects,” says Linford, “and every one of them is important to us. Every one represents who we are and what we provide.”

In Santa Clara, California, the Levi’s Stadium where the San Francisco 49ers play was built using CoreBrace BRBs. The new Inglewood Stadium in Los Angeles where the L.A. Rams and the San Diego Chargers will play has over one thousand CoreBrace braces. And the brand new Louis Armstrong Stadium is a 14,000-seat tennis stadium at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, opened in time for the 2018 US Open, which uses CoreBrace BRBs.

The company is currently working closely with the general contractor and structural steel suppliers that are developing a very challenging retrofit and expansion project at the airport in Guam. In New Zealand, it is involved in developing a convention center that represents the largest buckling-restrained brace project in the country to date. These are only a few of the many structures that CoreBrace products have been instrumental in building.

Being the first domestic provider of buckling-restrained braces within the United States has given CoreBrace experience and a powerful standing in the marketplace. A commitment to collaboration, not only internally but with all parties involved, has generated an attention to detail that is unmatched in the industry.

“We’re not the kind of folks that push a problem downstream to the next guy,” says Linford. “We get in front of it, and if we can make things easier for the next guy, we want to do that.” CoreBrace customers know that they can rely on the quality of the product, and that they can depend on the company to deliver on schedule.

As a full-service operation, CoreBrace manufactures all of its products within its AISC Certified facility and has its own in-house designers, engineers, project management, marketing, and sales staff. As it is fully contained in this way, the company does not depend on products or timelines that are outside of its control. This allows the company to maintain the highest standards known in the industry. CoreBrace has done full-scale testing on hundreds of buckling-restrained braces and, as a result, the company has an acute understanding of the mechanics involved.

The company has recently developed and patented a technology that enables a buckling-resistant brace to collect analytical data during a seismic event. The information can be downloaded from the brace so that engineers can accurately measure the consequences of the event, compare that information to the specifications of the brace, and better understand how much life is left in it. This innovation will vastly improve the capacity for CoreBrace products to keep structures secure and people safe.

With more than sixteen years of experience working with buckling-restrained braces, CoreBrace has become an expert in the field. “Working with CoreBrace is the opportunity to have a project go smoothly and succeed,” says Linford. “We do all we can to help everyone on the project meet that same level of success.”



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