Volume 13 | Issue 1 | Year 2010

Ohio Gratings Inc. was founded by Harold and David Bartley Sr. (father and son), who determined they could supply custom fabricated grating solutions faster and at a higher quality than the industry standards of the time. Thus, they launched a high-end fabrication business and set about to revolutionize the industry in their corner of the world with the motto: “Make it Right and Ship when Promised.”

That was in 1970. Since then, Ohio Gratings has stuck to what it knows best – bar grating – which has allowed the company to become a market leader in the aluminum and steel bar grating markets. Beginning as a light-duty steel bar grating fabricator and expanding into the manufacture of heavy-duty welded steel and stainless steel grating, Ohio Gratings has further expanded its operations to include the manufacture of aluminum swaged and dovetail bar grating. It also added aluminum plank to its line of flooring products and then added fiberglass grating fabrication to round out its grating product offerings.

Along with adding all these products, Ohio Gratings has continuously improved its capabilities in all facets of grating: design, engineering, manufacturing, fabrication and distribution. The company’s experience has gained it the expertise to offer extensive design and custom fabrication services, which has propelled Ohio Gratings into a diverse array of markets – oil and gas, power plants and distribution facilities, bridge decking, trench drains, water and wastewater platforms and walkways for municipalities – in addition to its traditional industrial flooring market. Today the company also provides myriad aluminum and steel architectural products. “We’re the only remaining complete grating products manufacturer that is privately held company in this market,” notes Carl Griffin, Director of Marketing and International Sales.

David W. Bartley II (Chairman) and John C. Bartley (President & CEO) have literally grown up in the industry and grown this company since the mid ‘90s when David Sr. passed away. Their vision, “Transform the Grating Industry,” is a work in progress today based on the founding commitment to “Make It Right and Ship When Promised.”

A significant strategic initiative that helped to propel the company forward as complete manufacturer was its joint venture with Meiser of Germany in 2006 to manufacture lightweight steel grating. As a result, Ohio Gratings added 36,000 square feet to its 160,000-square-foot manufacturing plant in Canton, Ohio to accommodate the production of press welded steel grating and its Meiser Bartley Gratings (MBG) Press Lock bar grating. The MBG Press Lock bar grating is produced in a variety of spacing sizes that can be tailored to walkways in industrial plants, waste water and water treatment plants, and mezzanine platforms for material handling applications. These spacing sizes are ideal for pedestrian comfort and hand cart and pallet jack rolling loads.

Because of unique spacing capabilities inherent in the product, press lock is also ideal for many architectural applications such as building facades, fencing, sun screens, security barriers, handrail infill panels, plus ADA walkways or almost any other grating application. In fact, fencing is fast becoming one of OGI’s significant products, with applications at numerous installations, including Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. The product is available in carbon and stainless steel. In the spring of 2009, Ohio Gratings bought out the Meiser partnership for sole ownership. “One of the core values of Ohio Gratings is to control our own destiny in the areas that make business and service sense,” said General Manager Chris McKelley. “Buying out Meiser and adding our own coil slitting line are examples of OGI’s willingness to integrate all of our operations.”

Ohio Gratings also maintains a 15,000-square-foot facility in Ridgeland, S.C., that offers an array of grating products and services, including a generous inventory of light duty steel and aluminum grating. This plant also provides fabrication services from end banding and stair treads to the most complex fabrication requests. OGI has another plant in Houston (31,000 square feet) for servicing Texas and surrounding Gulf states with quick complex fabrication of light duty carbon steel products. The Bartleys also own interest in facilities located in Longwood, Fla., (30,000 square feet – architectural products), and Lindon, Utah (65,000 square feet – grating manufacturing) with each facility having a specific niche and strategy. All of the Bartley/OGI facilities have the ability to fabricate the majority of the overall product offerings even if it is a product not stocked in that location.

“We’re a niche player,” Griffin says. “As an example we’ve been able to take louver product into the marketplace and expand the applications for use as fencing and grilles. We’re also pushing into municipalities to have our grating products used as walkways. Because we’re privately held we can value engineer and move faster than anyone else in the industry to quickly satisfy our customers’ specific requirements.”

Ohio Gratings’ products are also environmentally proven. Most of the gratings components can be recycled, which is why OGI uses carbon and stainless steel and aluminum. “In our Canton facility, we no longer use wet paints; we now powder coat,” Griffin says. Also, he adds, from a manufacturer and building perspective, many of OGI’s products can acquire LEED points, which is a boon in an industry obsessed now with creating sustainable buildings. Adds McKelley, “We have years of intelligence working for us in our facilities. Our employees are divided between those that have 15 years or more or three years or less, and our experienced employees do pass on their knowledge to teach the newer employees.” In this way, OGI’s next generation will be able to carry on the expertise and heritage that has helped the company build its expanding and diversified project portfolio.

One product for which Ohio Gratings has received rave reviews is its Wheels ‘n Heels®, which is heavy-duty bar grating that makes it easier for people to walk on, drive commercial vehicles over or bike across.

Wheels n’ Heels® is the first grating product that satisfies both the vehicle loading requirements of AASHTO and the pedestrian comfort requirements of the Americans With Disabilities Act. Made from three-eighths-inch or one-quarter-inch-thick ASTM A36 steel bar, this product will clear a span up to eight feet under H15 and H20 wheel loads and can be provided in piece sizes up to three feet wide by 20 feet long. In addition, the close spacing of the bearing bars offers a pedestrian friendly one-quarter-inch or one-half-inch opening that allows easy access for wheel chair and high heel traffic. Slip resistant surfaces are also available. “We know that people will either be walking or driving across many of our product offerings so we don’t cut corners when it comes to safety, design and production,” McKelley stresses.

Ohio Gratings also manufactures a variety of pressure locked bar grating made of aluminum, light duty carbon and stainless steel. These styles are also part of the OGI Grater Access® line of close mesh products. These products are suitable for applications in the material handling market, including mezzanines, pallet rack decking and shelving, but are versatile enough for architectural use as well as for applications such as fencing, grilles, screens and handrail in-fills.

Architectural Metal Solutions is the company’s newest line of products meant for architectural metal applications. These grating products are manufactured from aluminum, carbon steel and stainless steel and are sought after by architects, engineers and specifiers because of their aesthetic appeal and added benefit of ADA and/or LEED compliance.

Through its architectural division, OGI – Architectural Metal Solutions, OGI has participated in many complex projects, such as the Blackhawk (six-level) Parking Deck in Chicago. The architect’s plan was to incorporate a steel grille that was light, open and would properly clad a concrete and steel parking garage. The steel grille was designed to create a mesh that would act as a part of a building “skin,” allowing visual sight lines in and out. To create a continuous look around the parking structure, structural steel supports were added to allow for continuous panel alignment as the ramps of the parking deck changed levels. Smaller panels were used as part of a segmented arc at the north elevation to create a “canopy” that extends over the top parking deck. All materials were bolted into place through welded anchor plates and steel structural supports. The material was installed with a galvanized finish to complement the industrial aesthetics of the building.

OGI also completed work on the Akron Art Museum, whose main design feature is its “roof cloud” (high roof). The roof cloud hovers above the building, creating a blurred envelope for the museum. It encloses interior space, provides shade in exterior spaces and also operates as a horizontal landmark in the city. As part of the roof cloud system, Ohio Gratings, in conjunction with the architect, provided a full-depth, egg-crate-style aluminum grid system that is supported by steel Uni-Struts welded to the cantilevered structural steel beams which extend from the core of the building. The system was refined to meet air flow and shade requirements and engineered to be as lightweight as possible. To meet the needs of the architect, Ohio Gratings Inc. developed an egg crate grid that is comprised of two-inch by 1/8- inch aluminum bars pressure locked together at three-inch and six-inch openings. Ohio Gratings then fabricated panels at the same module as the metal wall panels that enclose the main gallery spaces. The grating panels themselves had to meet wind load criteria along the desired shading target, yet still be light enough to not overwhelm the structural steel beam that cantilevered out to create the structure of the “roof clouds.” As a final step, the aluminum grid panel system was clear anodized with a Class I finish.

For the National World War II Museum in Louisiana, OGI developed a product for the ceiling tiles and the handrail infill to allow for a specially spaced aluminum dovetail design that was light weight and easy to install. The museum’s design also included the use of various metal products throughout its interior, with metallic colors such as silver and battle ship gray. The grating products used on this project were included in various parts of the museum including the USO Library, Café Library, Temp Pre Show Area, Theater Lobby areas and the Retail Information areas.

These projects have enabled OGI to prove that grating products can fulfill an array of applications and uses. From walking to visual appeal, metal grating has come a long way from its traditional industrial use and with the ingenuity at Ohio Gratings, there’s no telling where the next grating product will show up, but it’s a good bet it will make a lasting impression.

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