A Focus on Industry Excellence
Alumawall delivers performance-driven building solutions and expert service
For over three decades, Alumawall, Inc. in San Jose, California, has used innovative methods to develop and distribute performance-driven building solutions to its client base of architects, general contractors, developers and facility owners. Under the careful direction and leadership of the Warda family, the small business that started out in 1984 manufacturing metal panels has now evolved into one of the state’s leading fabricators and erectors of aluminum and metal composite panel systems.
According to current Co-Owner and President David Warda, capital investments in the latest cutting-edge technologies and a full suite of design, fabrication and installation services are key reasons his company is thriving today. Furthermore, he says Alumawall’s core values keep its people and products top of mind for clients.
“The foundational values of our family-owned business are based on trust, service and maintaining strong relationships with our business partners,” David says. “With a constant focus on industry excellence, our team of designers, fabricators, installers, estimators, project management experts and office personnel take pride in providing first-class products and expert service.”
The company maintains a staff ranging from around 50 up to 75 during the busiest seasons of business. And while Alumawall works in virtually all construction markets, the majority of its projects are in the commercial, health care, high-tech, K-12 and higher education sectors.
A Complete Suite of Services
From design to fabrication to installation, Alumawall provides guidance and support at all levels of a project to ensure clients stay within budget and maintain project schedules. What’s more, the company fabricates all of its aluminum composite material (ACM) and metal composite material (MCM) systems in-house, using the highest-quality control methods and technologies to produce, package and ship complete panel systems statewide.
Alumawall also supplies and installs wood composite, specialty metals and other manufactured and custom exterior cladding systems.
“We pride ourselves in our quality, our rate of production and, most importantly, our high regard for safety standards,” Warda says. “Our installers predominantly work on high-reach equipment, and they are all certified experts in operating this equipment. We are always maintaining our employees’ certifications and stay up to date on training them on all new equipment or equipment changes, as well as hazards on the ground such as trenches, obstacles and people situated around the equipment. On the fabrication side, we keep our workers on a tight safety program per Cal/OSHA standards and have a dedicated safety manager who monitors them daily.”
All of the Alumawall field supervisors and installers are trained and approved by the material manufacturers, which adds another level of quality assurance. Warda states further, “We use union carpenters for all of our installations. Also, we have our own fleet of flatbeds to deliver materials to projects, and we partner with trucking companies for larger load requirements.”
This team’s goal is not simply to make a sale. Rather, Alumawall’s professionals are dedicated to making design and building processes smoother and more streamlined.
Warda says, “One of our greatest strengths is our understanding of how proper product education can help clients mitigate certain construction hurdles. For instance, architects need the right product information to write their specifications or show the correct details and designs on their contract documents. If the design documents are not correct, and the project goes out to bid, the contractors may bid the contract incorrectly, which could cause the budget to get busted. Then, the contractor that was awarded this scope of work may spend more time than is necessary trying to get clarification during the submittal and shop drawing process. So, our sales staff goes out and educates the architects and general contractors about our products, systems and specifications to help streamline the process for everyone.”
Alumawall’s ACM and MCM products are favored on building projects of all scope and scale. The ACM option, which has two outer skins of aluminum bonded over a unique thermal plastic compound core, is advantageous due to its flatness, formability and Class A fire rating. The MCM system has similar benefits, but features two outer skins made of copper, zinc, stainless steel or titanium that are bonded over a unique thermal plastic compound core. Both ACM and MCM panels offer the rigidity of heavy gauge sheet metal in a lightweight composite material and can usually be installed faster than alternative exteriors such as precast, granite or brick.
The company’s ACM and MCM offerings have their own proprietary “wet seal” and “rainscreen” systems, which are sealed at all panel joints and perimeters to create the primary seal at the exterior face of the panel. While both systems are engineered with free-floating panel engagement to allow for seismic and thermal movement, the rainscreen product is specially designed to control water infiltration and weep out at the bottom of the panels while maintaining rear ventilation.
“Both our ACM and MCM systems achieve a unique, high-end look for architectural facades and interior decor on all types of projects. For building exteriors, they provide a complete weather barrier against the elements,” David says, adding that these attractive, affordable systems also come with exceptional warranty options. “On top of being lightweight and simple to install, these versatile products can be fabricated into complex forms easily and they offer superior flatness, durability, stability, vibration damping and ease of maintenance. They also come in a wide selection of finishes, colors and sheens.” Alumawall sources all ACM and MCM materials from several of the industry’s leading manufacturers, utilizing brands such as Alpolic and Reynobond.
“We strive to stay at the forefront of emerging, groundbreaking trends.” David Warda, Co-Owner and President, Alumawall, Inc.
Insulated metal panels (IMPs) are another of Alumawall’s most popular products. Available in a wide variety of colors, widths, profiles and finishes, IMPs allow designers to achieve a diverse range of aesthetic goals. Also, they are appealing to contractors seeking cost-effective, easy-to-install solutions as a way to trim the bottom line and speed construction. A big benefit to owners is the product’s high thermal resistance (R-value) capabilities, which stem from the integration of a closed-cell urethane foam insulation core.
Energy efficiency in both residential and nonresidential construction is a major priority for California builders due to ever-changing Title 24 compliance rules. “Insulated metal panels meet most of those requirements,” David confirms. These eco-friendly building materials are quite popular in Europe, where they are used on about half of all new commercial and industrial structures, and in the U.S. are steadily gaining traction due to an increasing awareness of their ability to stabilize and control interior environments.
“Also, to meet Title 24 requirements we offer exterior insulation systems such as SMARTci. This product serves as a secondary insulation cavity between the exterior wallboard of a building and the metal paneling,” David adds.
A History of Tragedy & Triumph
Alumawall’s origins and evolution are just as remarkable as the products it offers. Two years before Alumawall was launched, Warda’s father—who was at the time the owner of two existing businesses that supplied building materials—was approached by an aluminum panel manufacturer interested in having him distribute exterior aluminum products in California. Warda’s father accepted the offer and operated in this capacity for about a year, but then the manufacturer went out of business. “Based on the great interest we received from the customers and architects we worked with, we decided to purchase the proper manufacturing equipment and launch our own manufacturing business in 1984,” Warda explains.
By this time, his father had consolidated the two other companies into a new entity called Warda Enterprises, but kept Alumawall separate. Warda, along with his mother, Lori, helped with managing both Warda Enterprises and Alumawall—the son handling estimating/marketing and the mother overseeing administrative matters. Warda was also being mentored by his father to one day assume control of these family businesses.
However, tragedy struck in 1988 with the sudden death of Warda’s father. “Though I had been training to take over the companies one day, I wasn’t full prepared for this transition when my dad passed away,” Warda shares. So, he and his mother decided to temporarily close Alumawall while they worked together to get complete control over matters at Warda Enterprises. In 1990, the pair reopened Alumawall with Warda at the helm as President and Lori handling the administrative duties.
At this point in time, metal panel systems were in high demand in the California construction marketplace. “We purchased a small 4,000-square-foot facility in San Jose to house Alumawall’s operations, then I started hiring fabricators and installers to create and build our own panel systems while I estimated the projects,” Warda says.
The first major project that helped Alumawall get back on its feet was Shorebreeze, a Class A office park located in Redwood City. “It was our largest order at that point,” Warda recollects. “We used this opportunity to upgrade our fabrication capabilities so we could enhance our efficiency and produce materials at a higher degree of quality. We made capital investments in higher-end equipment, such as a new precision saw to handle multiple fabrication tasks that were previously accomplished using table saws and hand routers, to meet the project requirements.”
The next major milestone involved a decision to discontinue manufacturing its own aluminum panel systems and instead partner with Alcoa, one of the world’s largest aluminum producers, to become an Alcoa-certified fabricator.
“I met with Alcoa and they decided we had enough capabilities and the right business model to become a partner with them and a certified fabricator of their panels, which is a higher-quality system than what we were able to produce at the time,” Warda says. “From there, we continued our market research and, around the mid-1990s, made another capital investment in advanced, computer-driven fabrication equipment that offered a higher degree of quality and faster production time.”
At the turn of the 21st century, Alumawall began designing and developing the advanced attachment systems it uses to meet today’s construction requirements. “We are continuing to custom-design, engineer and test new systems to meet today’s building design standards,” Warda adds. For example, his team created a new state-of-the-art rainscreen panel system that does not require sealants within the panels and allows the wall cavities to drain water at a more efficient rate than Alumawall’s first panel system.
“We strive to stay at the forefront of emerging, groundbreaking trends,” Warda affirms. “Also, we’ve expanded our capabilities so that our team is not only capable of installing the panel systems, but also in adding the weather barrier and exterior insulation to the building prior to ACM and MCM panel installation.” In a nutshell, Alumawall has taken on additional scopes of work so that the general contractor only has to write a single contract for completing all facets of an exterior metal panel system, which would normally be divided into multiple subcontracts.
“Our highly motivated employees are always willing to advance their knowledge and skill sets to ensure customers have the best possible experiences when working with us. These efforts also help to streamline our workflows and enhance our company’s proficiency—another reason we enjoy so much repeat business and referrals,” Warda says.