A Tidewater Tradition

Chesapeake Bay Steel
Written by Claire Suttles

Founded in 1962, Norfolk, Virginia-based Chesapeake Bay Steel (CBSI) has long been a fixture in the Virginia Tidewater area. The company specializes in steel fabrication and erection and has had a hand in many recognizable projects throughout the region. After decades of experience, the team is expanding the company’s reach while maintaining the values of this family-owned-and-operated business.

A Division 5 Structural Steel Company, CBSI focuses on metal fabrication, joists, framing, decking, stairs, and railings. Industries served include government, education, steel, manufacturing, industrial, energy, construction, chemical, and agricultural. The team works on a range of structures – including schools, government facilities, commercial buildings, hotels and hospitals – and deals with all types of metal, from carbon steel and aluminum to alloys and stainless steel. They can weld, finish and cut, galvanize, custom fabricate, paint, and apply coatings. Finished products include columns, steel beams, steel pipes, platforms, bracing, stairs, handrails, pipe racks, catwalks, trusses, lintel beams, and pedestrian bridges, as well as custom parts and products.

Whatever the project, CBSI is committed to excellence. The team sees welding as a talent to take pride in, not just a means to an end. The company website quotes owner Ray Felton, as saying, “Welding is a romantic art form. Anybody can weld. But not everyone can weld well.” This team is dedicated to welding well.

In fact, CBSI employees are known as exceptional welders and fabricators. These standards take effort to maintain, so when seeking new recruits, the team looks for prospects who are “highly skilled in metal fabrication” as well as being “honest and hardworking,” the company website details. These attributes create a winning combination that shows in the company’s projects.

CBSI projects start at $1.5 million in value. The team reviews each project carefully and boasts the ability to take on highly complex, 2500-ton projects. They work closely with clients throughout the process and are willing to customize projects to fit the client’s needs. Current projects include John B Dey Elementary School in Virginia Beach, EVMS Williams Hall in Norfolk, Carriage Hill Independent Living in Henrico, Old Hundred Elementary School in Chesterfield County, Norfolk State University in Norfolk, Richmond Airport in Richmond, Virginia Aquarium in Virginia Beach, and Ft. Monroe Visitors & Education Center in Hampton.

Notable past projects include St. Mary’s Home for Disabled Children in Norfolk, Kellam High School in Virginia Beach, Ted Constant Convocation Center in Norfolk, Cavalier Hotel in Virginia Beach, Fort Lee Brigade and Batallion Headquarters in Fort Lee, Riverside Regional Hospital in Newport News, Munitions Inspection Facility in Hampton, and Fox Mill Center in Gloucester.

The team relishes tough assignments. “We pride ourselves in the more difficult work such as renovations of old hotels and restaurants, where you need the ability to adapt to the job,” the company reports. Managing complicated projects requires coordination from the get-go and CBSI prefers to consult with clients early in the construction process so the team “can provide insight to help reduce cost and save time during steel erection.” When brought in from the beginning, the company will help value engineer the project, offer solutions, and save money while maintaining the client’s tight deadlines.

The CBSI team continues to work closely with the client throughout the lifecycle of the project, dubbing themselves “strategic partners.” According to the company website, “We understand the unique needs of our clients. We know they need our experience to provide insight into their designs to help make the job go smoothly, provide a superior product and meet everyone’s high standards. Our goal is to provide innovative and technically advanced products that meet our customer’s requirements by continually improving our quality management system.”

In fact, the company’s ability to become a strategic partner with clients has been a major source of lasting success. “Our company grew from a reputation of working on complex jobs that others could not perform,” CBSI’s website explains. “The jobs needed to be precisely timed, must be completed on schedule and always deliver a quality product. We understand that in every business, time is money. That’s why we are committed to providing you with quality work performed when you need it, at a reasonable price.”

CBSI operates a sprawling, state-of-the-art facility that helps the team meet their client’s wide range of needs. “[We] have the resources to build 2500-ton projects that are very complex,” the company website reports. “CBSI has a large facility that provides us the opportunity to self-perform and custom fabricate your new or modernization project.”

Located on approximately three and a half acres of land, the grounds include the covered manufacturing facility with dedicated areas for metal work, fabrication, priming, and office space, as well as a yard for staging. This spacious setup allows CBSI to store a number of metals on site, ready for the next project. If the company does not have a needed material on hand, the team will order the raw material and stage it for the client for maximum efficiency – a service that’s particularly valuable on large construction projects.

If a client needs more storage space than CBSI can provide, its sister company, Metal Tech (see sidebar for further details), boasts several warehouse spaces available for rent. “So if you have a large volume of work we can store and schedule shipments when you are ready,” the company website explains. “This can be a huge advantage in the construction industry.”

In addition to its large facility, CBSI holds all the credentials needed to successfully complete the job. The company is a member of AGC (Associated General Contractors) of Virginia, Tidewater District; Builders Exchange Richmond; and Builders Exchange Norfolk. The company is licensed in the state of Virginia for Class A Contractors Classifications CBS RBC and is an American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) certified fabricator.

Metal Tech’s safety record provides insight into the team’s commitment to safety. The sister company was named a Carolina STAR business by the North Carolina Department of Labor. “The Carolina Star Program is designed to recognize employers and employees who have implemented effective safety and health management systems and maintain injury and illness rates that meet the criteria for participation,” the N.C. Department of Labor website explains. The team manages CBSI with equal rigor to Metal Tech’s management. “We are setting similar high profile standards for Chesapeake Bay Steel,” the company website reports.

After nearly 60 years in business, CBSI has earned its place as a major player in Virginia’s Tidewater region. Armed with high safety standards, close relationships with clients, in-house expertise, and a state-of-the-art facility, the company is well placed to continue expanding throughout the Tidewater and beyond.



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