Ontario dealer sheds Cover-All affiliation

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But the new company will assume ‘the warranty that Cover-All left behind,’ says one of its owners

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As a current owner of a Cover All building I am offended to hear Hogervorst claim that his new Olympia buildings are so much stronger and heavier than his original Cover All. There were hundreds and maybe thousands of customers who purchased Cover Alls and were convinced by smooth talking salesmen that they were buying the strongest fabric building possible. If Hogervorst was not trustworthy about his claims regarding the original Cover Alls, how is he to be trusted this time around. I for one will not be calling upon his new company when the time comes for me to consider a new building option.

I was once a Cover-All dealer and they, Cover-All Corp., told us all the time how much better they were from anyone else. They even compared their buildings with other companies, showing all the strong points. Of course they never mentioned any short comings. It wasn't until later I realized some parts of other buildings might be better. You get so busy with selling your strong points and don't really know until you have to step back. I feel Ben is a good person. He has no legal obligation to honor the old Cover-All warranty, but is doing so because he cares about his past customers. Give the man some credit!

What if you are told that your after life will be heavenlike if you hijack a jetliner and crash it into a public building. Oh yeah didnt know any better? How can you be in the business and not know ?

The former Cover-All Building Systems Inc. Authorized Dealer SAFETY WARNINGS FOR CONTINUED USE and PURCHASE OF Cover-All(CABS, Saskatoon or Summit Structures ) produced buildings

Relying on the recent events and 5-year cooperation experience with Cover-All company, being a co-owner of the group of companies, authorized dealer of Cover-All Building Systems, I would like to make a statement addressed to the owners of ‘Тitan’ buildings, former dealers of Cover-All Building Systems(Canada) company and to media.

The group of companies “ЕuroАgro” began its work as an authorized dealer in 2005. The first sales were effectuated by us in 2006, and according to the year results we were nominated as ‘Dealer of the Year’ in Europe at the European Dealer’s Conference.
Pursuant to the sales results for 2007 at the 1st International Dealer’s Conference, which was held in March 2008 our company was nominated as a ‘Dealer of the Year International’ и ‘Project of the Year’. We arranged twice our customers study visits to Canada, paid by us, it’s in order to demonstrate new philosophy of dairy barn construction.

Beginning from March 2009 the dispute concerning the collapse of one of the ‘Titans’ delivered by us with the subsequent collapse of another one building on the same construction site in January 2010.

During the examination of the first building’s collapse the representatives of Cover-All insisted that the main reason of the collapse can be explained by defects made in the process of the building and assembly work (the assembly has been conducted by specialized independent company). Therefore, the other versions of this collapse have not been considered. The manufacturer of the constructions, Cover-All company, has originally imposed the responsibility for the accident on the dealer and project organization (Appendix ___), and it was only after the protest against the correctness of the facts described in the letter that the manufacturer has chosen the assembly as a main version of the collapse (Appendix___). The Dealer and project group’s (the latter took part in the building’s projecting) requirement to elaborate the building’s reinforcement has been ignored by Cover-All. This requirement was expressed at the meeting with Mr. Dexter, Dealer’s Network Development Director, in Moscow and has been written personally by him in July 2009.

However, in spite of the measures taken to increase the control over the quality of the assembly work of Cowhouse # № 2, the indicated building has also collapsed after Cover-All gave the respective warranty according to the established form (Appendix _№_). So the measurements of the profile sections used by Cover-All in its delivered metal constructions have been performed, and the metal patterns of the damaged constructions have been checked in the independent certified laboratory as to their conformity to the parameters indicated by their manufacturer in the technical documentation. As a result, the differences both in the geometric dimensions of the sections of some metal profiles and the essential mismatch of the physical and mechanic characteristics have been established (in particular, strength characteristics (30-40% less), in delivered steel marks comparing with those indicated in the documents (see Appendix 3).

Beginning from 02. 02. 2010 the owner of 2 collapsed buildings tried to hold an active dialogue with the top management of Cover-All Building Systems, first of all, with President of Cover-All Building Systems Mr. Stobbe to settle the indemnification matter in an amicable way. The owner of the collapsed buildings has presented all the materials collected by Collapse Reason Examination Commission, including those concerning the chemical analysis of the applied steel’s composition.
The only reaction of Mr. Stobbe to the collapse happened in 2010 has been his letter sent by E-mail, which confirmed his reception of the address of the Owner of the collapsed buildings.

Having known that the owner of Cover-All Building Systems is an Audax investment group, the Owner of the buildings has sent the letters addressed to Mr. Geoffrey S. Rehnert and Mr. Marc B. Wolpow appealing them to interfere in the matter’s solution process. This address has not been responded until 16. 06. 2010 when Audax made a declaration that they were not responsible for the actions or inaction of the Cover-All staff members.

You can read the following on the website of Cover-All company:
«Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, Friday, March 19, 2010 – Cover-All Building Systems Inc. today announced it has issued a safety warning to customers of the Titan Building product lines based on the findings of a review of previously sold buildings». – Such an announcement, as well as the sworn declaration of Mr. Stobbe, President of Cover-All Building Systems Inc., in the court of the Province of Альберта does not correspond to the facts. See – attachment “Cover-All Building Systems Issues Safety Notice to Customers for the Titan Building Product Lines”

The Cover-All Building Systems Inc. has never warned us, our company or any of our staff members on the possible danger of its Titan buildings maintenance. Thus, the sworn declarations of the President of Cover-All Buildings Systems on the alleged informing of the dealers and customers by sending the appropriate information are false. The Cover-All Buildings Systems limited itself to the placement of the information on its website and has not done anything to notify timely its dealers and the owners of the buildings. Taking the above into consideration, one can suppose that the top management of Cover-All company in the person of its President Mr. N. Stobbe, technical Vice-President Mr. М. H. Аntonini, perhaps, other Company’s staff members as well, during the investigation of the indicated cowhouses’ collapse has already known the true reasons of this accident and deliberately misled us trying to avoid their responsibility. Thereby the life and health of the people being inside the buildings and/or nearby were in real danger; fortunately, nobody suffered.

Our company, as one of the dealers of Cover-All company, counted that the manufacturer of the production sold by us should take some measures to correct the situation after the first Warning placed on its website.
The manufacturer declared its intentions to effectuate the building’s strength control calculations, concentrate the efforts of its design group thereon and help the dealers and owners of the ‘Titan’ buildings in reinforcement of the latter. “As a building manufacturer, safety is our number one priority. Based on what we know now, we have advised our customer and dealers to follow certain safety steps relative to Titan buildings,” said Nathan Stobbe, President and CEO of Cover-All Building Systems.

What have we, dealers and buyers of the Cover-All’s buildings, got finally?
In his second warning of 23. 04. 2010 the Manufacturer (the only structure who has information on the construction of the buildings, used materials and so called ‘philosophy’ of this construction) suggests that he cannot continue financing the calculations. Thereby the Manufacturer leaves us all (dealers and owners of the buildings) alone with the problem; taking into account that the dealers do not specialize in the design of the building’s construction: they deal with sales and assembly. Therefore, their do not possess much capacity to make the skillful calculations of the real strength of the exploited buildings.

What assistance/support has been rendered by Audax investment group, owner of Cover-All Building Systems Inc., in the situation of ‘Тitan’ buildings dangerous maintenance?

No assistance, judging by its declaration on the absence of this company’s involvement and responsibility for the described problem.

Hereby I would like to summarize the aforesaid:
• Collapse list published by North American mass media should be complemented by 2 collapsed ‘Титан’ buildings in Russia (in March 2009 and January 2010).
• The reason of the said collapse, in commission’s opinion (this commission consisted of the representatives of the Customer, project organization, assembly organization and authorized dealer of Cover-All Buildings Systems), was a mismatch of the declared quality of the delivered buildings (first of all, the metal’s quality ). The respective Statement has been drawn up on the ground of the examination by members of the commission of the chemical analysis results concerning the metal constructions samples fulfilled by certified laboratory of 17th of February 2010 and been forwarded to Cover-All Buildings Systems
• The manufacturer of the buildings, Cover-All Buildings Systems, was granted an opportunity to inspect the place of the said collapse and take samples for the control analysis of the metal’s chemical and strength properties. The samples was taken by representative of Cover-All Buildings Systems Mr. Keith Dexter personally and forwarded to the laboratory Imperial College (UK) on 19. 03. 2010.
• The results of the testing mentioned in the previous paragraph have not been notified hitherto to the owner of the buildings despite of the numerous reminders. What do the managers of Cover-All Buildings Systems conceal? If the metal’s quality conforms with that declared by Manufacturer, it makes no sense to conceal such an information.
• The probable information held by management of Cover-All Buildings Systems, which confirms the mismatch of the used metal’s quality and concealment of the same, can threaten the life of the people working in these buildings. The announcement «Safety warning to customers» published in March and April propose every building’s owner to attract the engineers-calculators for the check of the building’s strength and its conformity with local loads, but the calculations shall be grounded on the metal’s characteristics declared by manufacturer, Cover-All Buildings Systems, Saskatoon.
• As a former dealer of Cover-All Buildings Systems, Canada, I am worried by absence of any volition on the part of the management of Cover-All Buildings Systems to present the reliable information to the owners of the buildings whose amount exceeds 35,000 in different countries according to mass media information.

We are ready to grant the exhaustive information collected by us and commission during the examination of 2 collapsed buildings for the interested parties. The present statement shall not be directed anyhow against the efforts of the Norseman company to resume the production and create the new workplaces for the plant’s staff dismissed in March 2010 by Cover-All Building Systems top management.

Sincerely Yours,

Аleks Jatsoun
Contact E-mail address: Cover-Rus@inbox.ru

Ben H is one of the most trustworthy, honest and caring people I have ever had the chance to meet. He was caught in a terrible situation by no fault of his own, along with hundreds of others. It is terribly wrong to cast stones at a man of such character unless you truly know what your saying. I truly hope you never have to go thru what this man and others have had to in the last year, if you do you may see things differenty. iowa

Ben sat on the board of Cover-all. For several years he benefitted financially from selling and erecting these buildings. There is no excuse for ignorance in not knowing the buildings were unsafe. Therefore, since he was an owner/director and had direct knowledge of all aspects of the company (had he bothered to ask or research on his own) he should not be allowed legally to profit from the demise of Cover-all in any way shape or form. When you are responsible for an organization and what it produces there is no excuse for being "in a terrible situation" it was his own fault and the fault of every other director of that company.

What I would like to know is what is Norseman doing with full building warranties, not just fabric warranties? What happens to all those thousands of customers all across North America that are sitting in fabric buildings that are deemed unsafe for occupation. Washing your hands clean from all these building warranties is an absolute travesty. Is it true that Norseman is only looking to handle the fabric warranty claims. Does this mean that if a cover requires replacement Norseman Structures would be more than happy to provide a new cover for a COST, and install it on a building (a former Cover-All Building) that is deemed unsafe for use? There are thousands of buildings that need to be replaced, and if Norseman is the new Cover-All then is it is not their responsibility to do so?

From what I've heard Norseman has just purchased some of the assets from the bankrupsy. They have their own fabric building business and weren't connected to Cover-all at all. Any company that decides they want to take on the responsibility for Cover-all's problems won't be in business for very long! If they're prepared to extend the cover warranty to Cover-all's customers that's great, and more then thay have to do. Based on all the attention, I would expect their buildings to be better built than anything else on the market.

I have many years of experience in both steel and fabric building construction & design. Here is the reality of the situation:
Firstly, ANY building company doesn't decide to sell an inferior building if it has to meet building code requirements. ALL fabric buildings at the time of Cover-All's bankruptcy were under-designed. It is a product of the design code, not the manufacturers skimping on materials. The design code has been modified, AND manufacturer's are scared of the liability so both of those reasons have created fabric building companies' designs that are much stronger than any that were previously designed. You will see these changes over the next 6-12 months as building code is universally adopted. If you purchased a fabric building from ANY company, you have the same challenges/risks. In most cases they do not apply. So to say that there are thousands of un-safe/un-usable buildings is not accurate. You can't determine that until your building has been reviewed by an engineer for your specific site. Even then, it may have met the building code when it was built/designed, but not the new code for NEW construction. When codes are revised, you don't retro-fit your house (for instance). it may be a good idea, but not required. The panic occurred due to Cover-All's decision to send out the notifications to customers. It would have been the equivalent to Toyota sending out a notice to not use any Toyota product, if the customers need to use their brakes. It only truly applies to a small portion of customers. However, Toyota wasn't about to go bankrupt and was smart enough to send out such a liability aversion letter.
As a result, you will see many new fabric building companies spring-up (Fabri-Steel, Olympia, Legacy, Fabri-Stall, FAb Struc Unlimited,etc..). Most from previous Cover-All dealers. The reality is, no one has the Capacity for mfg, design or warranty that Cover-All/Norseman has. Even the closest of competitors can't keep up with production or design requirements, let alone marketing, customer service, warranty, etc.. So, the good news is, you have more decisions than ever if you are building a new building. If you have an existing building and were too cheap to pay for stamped engineering when you initially bought it, then you likely had it under-built as well. By the way, 80% of building failures occur by foundation failure. You may want to start there.
Lastly, if you can't afford engineering review, use common sense. if you get snow built-up on your building (which doesn't often happen), then get it off. Heat your building up, it's easier than shoveling.
Enjoy the benefits of your fabric building you have now.

I would love to hear from the author of this post. I am conducting a study of the engineering of these structures for a very large institutional client and would realish the input. I can be reached at cbabcock@ccjm.com.

Charles Babcock, PE

A few comments on the "reality of it all..."

A new code is brought in to address deficiencies in the old one. Cover-all has already admitted design deficiencies in their buildings and this is evident in six Summit/Cover-All building collapses since 2002. Therefore, it is the current building owner's responsibility for due diligence to have an engineer review to ensure that it is a safe structure, or reinforced to become one. To do otherwise only invites liability to the current owner with no legal recourse to sue Cover-All (with zero assets). Just ask the Dallas Cowboys and the unfortunate ones injured there.

I am a little bewildered by the "too cheap to pay for stamped engineering" comment, as any building official would (or should) have demanded this at the time of issuing a building permit. That would leave the building official open to scrutiny. Also, I would find it hard to believe any reputable Cover-All dealer would put up a building on a foundation that was not designed and stamped by an engineer.

As for heating the building to remove snow, many of these buildings do not have heating systems, so it may be a challenge to install a temporary system for every snowfall. That would not address the integrity of the structure under wind load however, which has also been an issue.

I would be interested in hearing the opinion of a property insurer on this topic and their requirements.

P. Eng.

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