Robertson Building Systems – Canada’s Premier Pre-Engineered Metal Building Supplier

An icon in Canada’s pre-engineered metal building industry has ceased manufacturing here in Ontario. Robertson Building Systems notified its dealers that the manufacturing plant on Burford Road in Hamilton will cease manufacturing pre-engineered metal building kits and the building will be sold.  Sales and Engineering is to be relocated to a new facility.



The company was founded in Sarnia Ontario in 1863 by Thomas Irwin. In 1910, the company was relocated to Hamilton to be closer to the steel mills.

Harold Hansard Robertson who was born and raised in Woodstock New Brunswick established the company H. H. Robertson in Boston MA in 1917. This company relocated closer to steel mills as well, only this time it was Pittsburg PA.

H. H. Robertson distributed products that were manufactured by Thomas Irwin and Son. In 1946, the company purchased Irwin naming the Canadian subsidiary Robertson-Irwin Ltd.

1968 saw the purchase of Steel-Built Industries in Port Coquitlam British Columbia by H. H. Robertson and the consequent partnership with Varco Pruden (another player in the pre-eng metal building industry). This company division built a new manufacturing and office facility on Burford Road in Hamilton the next year. The Varco-Pruden shares were bought by Robertson Irwin Lt. in 1971.

The Robertson-Irwin Ltd. plant in Hamilton doubled its size in 1972 and again in 1976. Weak western markets caused the close of the Port Coquitlam plant in 1986.

In 1988, Robertson purchased Star Building Systems with its four U. S. plants. The company then merged with Ceco Corporation which also operated four pre-engineered metal building plants.

The Robertson-Ceco Corp. then sold off all of its non-pre-engineered metal building businesses. This company was publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange. One share-holder owned a majority of the shares. Michael Heisley of Heico Corp. then purchased the remainder of the outstanding shares in April of 2000.

The Robertson-Ceco Corp. was then purchased in April of 2006 by NCI Building Systems Inc. NCI has distribution and manufacturing facilities in 17 US states, Mexico and Canada and is one of the largest integrated manufacturers of metal products for the non-residential building industry.