Wire Mesh Corporation (WMC) is a family-owned manufacturer of welded wire mesh and other steel wire products. The company is headquartered in The Woodlands, Texas with eight manufacturing facilities supplying customers nationwide.
WMC was established in 2003 with its first welded wire mesh plant in Jacksonville. The company saw a great deal of success in Florida and, within a few years, began expanding. In 2006, it opened a second facility in Oglesby, Illinois and, in 2009, a third in Lathrop, California. After sixteen years of consistent growth, the company now operates additional manufacturing plants in New Salem, Pennsylvania and St. Matthews, South Carolina as well as in Beaumont, Carrollton, and Conroe, Texas.
That makes eight plants in total serving customers from coast to coast. Each facility is strategically located to best serve a key market sector within a four or five hundred mile radius, and the company plans to expand with additional locations in the future. “We’re a nationwide supplier,” says CEO Jordi Barrenechea. “We see freight being a big hurdle in today’s market, so we like to be local to many different markets in the United States.” Across its eight locations, the company employs roughly four hundred people.
WMC manufactures steel wire products for a range of applications. For construction, the company makes standard building mesh, structural or engineered mesh, and prestressed concrete strand. For industrial and other non-construction purposes, it offers bright basic wire and a number of similar wire products.
The most common use for WMC products in the construction sector is for concrete reinforcement. When concrete is cast, steel is set into the concrete to increase its strength and its capacity to hold up under tension. Standard building mesh is used primarily in light construction. It is a square grid of welded ten to four gauge wire and is used as a lightweight mesh in reinforced concrete slabs, foundations, walls, driveways, and sidewalks. This is WMC’s lightest mesh and is used primarily in residential projects.
Structural or engineered wire mesh is designed to replace rebar as a concrete reinforcer in heavy construction applications. Typically, heavy-gauge steel reinforcing bars, commonly known as rebar, are added to concrete slabs to strengthen the concrete and prevent it from cracking. WMC’s structural mesh serves the same purpose as rebar but reduces the amount of raw steel needed, the time necessary to install it, and the overall cost of the project as a result. This product is used in highways, bridges, parking garages, and many other heavy construction projects.
Both the standard and the structural meshes are constructed by welding heavy gauge steel wires into a grid, which is then placed inside wet concrete as its being cast. The concrete hardens with a steel skeleton inside, and the strength of the steel mesh adds to the strength of the concrete.
Concrete is a valuable building material because of its ability to withstand tremendous compressive force, meaning that you can put a lot of weight on a concrete slab before it cracks and fails. However, when it comes to bending forces, concrete is actually quite weak. When a concrete slab bends, it tends to crack easily. Reinforcing concrete with steel bars and meshes can help hold a structure together if it fails, but in some applications, this is not enough.
Prestressing is a process whereby long stranded steel tendons are run through the concrete either before it is cast, in a process known as pre-tensioning, or threaded through tubes set into the concrete after it is cast, for post-tensioning. These strands are then stretched and fastened, which compresses and bends the concrete slab laterally.
Imagine holding a playing card lengthwise between the thumb and fingers of your left hand. If you press down on the center of the card with your right index finger, it will bend. If you pre-bend the card outward slightly by pressing your left thumb and fingers together, giving the card a small arc away from your palm, when you press against it again with your right index finger, it will resist.
This is very close to how prestressing works. Instead of your thumb and fingers pressing together, the steel strands are stretched through and fastened to either end of the slab. As those strands attempt to shrink back to their natural shape, they compress the concrete giving it more strength against bending forces. WMC offers a product called PC strand – or prestressed concrete strand – for this purpose. These are uncoated, seven-wire strands made of high carbon steel and are used to increase the tensile strength of concrete in bridges, parking garages, and stadium projects, among many other things.
Another flagship product from WMC’s catalogue is bright basic wire. This is a general purpose manufacturing wire that is used in creating products from shopping carts and cages to chain link fences and much more.
WMC is committed to a set of ethics designed to help build strong, lasting business relationships with customers, raw material suppliers, and any other partners. “Our values are passion, responsibility, honesty, teamwork, excellence, and respect,” says Barrenechea. “We’re very close to these values, and we try to live them.” These ideals represent the company’s culture, and they are central to the approach that has led it to so much success.
Another vital component of the WMC culture is its commitment to safety. “Our top priority is safety and the wellbeing of our coworkers,” says Barrenechea. “We do a lot of training. We have meetings daily, weekly, monthly, where we strengthen the mentality of safety, and we have multiple internal and external audits every year. We want to keep improving so that we have a safe place for everyone that works at WMC to be.”
Toward this goal, all WMC meshes are built to ASTM A-1064 standards, which is a quality and safety specification for manufacturing carbon steel wire. The company invests heavily in ensuring the safety of not only its employees and everyone within its plants but also its customers and anyone who depends on its products.
WMC has been able to stand out from competing companies by focusing on best serving customer needs. Through a strategy to position itself in many major markets throughout the United States, the company can be close to customers and provide the best quality customer service possible.
“Because of our locations, we can service almost every customer in the United States,” says Barrenechea. “We try to be close to our customers, and we can often deliver within one or two days. Being close to them, being good to them, that’s the biggest thing.” Going forward, the company plans to expand further with locations in more U.S. markets to improve delivery times and provide even more value.
Just as important as its availability is its heavy focus on improving its performance and the efficiency of its production environment by investing in technology. As a low-cost manufacturer, the company remains competitive by staying lean. “We keep reviewing and buying the most efficient machines that are out there so we can be efficient.”
Investing in the efficiency of its operation has also helped it mitigate the effects of labor shortages. Throughout the United States, businesses that depend on skilled trades are suffering from a lack of qualified workers. By offering employees a working environment furnished with state-of-the-art, safe manufacturing machinery that is less labor-intensive to operate than the typically available equipment in the industry, WMC has built and retained a reliable team of experts who are committed to the success of the company.
WMC’s values extend beyond business and into social endeavors. The company is committed to supporting various causes and is currently focused on one in particular. It has recently signed an agreement to plant one tree for every sale. “Between all of our customers, we’re going to be planting a lot of trees every year,” says Barrenechea.
After sixteen years in business, Wire Mesh Corporation has established itself as a nationwide leader and customer favorite in welded wire products. “We’re committed to being a low-cost, customer-oriented company,” says Barrenechea. “We listen to what our customers want. We invest all of our money in our equipment so that we can stay lean and competitive, and we want to continue to build strong relationships with our customers and our raw material suppliers.”