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SteelCo builds school in five weeks
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The following sub-contractors were used on the project:

Brick Customs, Inc.

Universal Ornamental Iron, Inc.

DP Steel

Malco Interiors, LLC

Cabinets and Countertops

Big Time Plastering, Inc.

Bestline Door

Atlanta Suburban Glass, Inc.

Benise-Dowling &

Associates, Inc.

Atec Tile &


Todd Young Plumbing, Inc.

Schell Heating & Air, Inc.

Advantage Fire Sprinkler Co. Inc.

Ozburn Electrical Contractors, Inc.

SteelCo President Shane Millwood was laughed at, derided and told he simply couldn’t do it — that didn’t stop him from essentially building a school in five weeks.


The 20,000-square foot first phase of the Covington campus of Peachtree Academy opened Aug. 16, on schedule for the start of the school year, despite the fact construction didn’t start until the middle of July. A project that normally would have taken four to five months was completed in one-fourth the normal time, a time frame Millwood has never heard of.


“Only the people involved in the project believed in it. We were laughed at on a daily basis,” Millwood said. “Most people thought the sign in front of the building that said ‘Opening this Fall’ meant fall 2011. Even in the fourth and fifth weeks of the project people still didn’t believe.”


The project started so late because a different location was originally planned for the school. Peachtree Academy owner JaNice Van Ness had to secure all the proper permitting for the new location and architectural firm Homer Lewis and Associates needed time to design the school to fit the existing footprint of the building that previously housed 84 Lumber.


The project wouldn’t have been completed on time without the dedication of hundreds of tradesman, who worked in shifts to keep the job site open from 5:30 a.m. to 2 a.m., a 20.5 hour day, every day for five weeks.


Leading up to July, SteelCo finished the demolition of the old warehouse, tearing down the entire exterior, leaving only the supports and the roof. They then proceeded to rebuild the interior and exterior and build an entire second story. In addition, they redid the exterior on a second building, which will eventually be the school’s second phase.


“If I had subs and workers, working the normal 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., or even 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., it never would have happened. But we all believed. No one wanted to be the one to hold the project up,” Millwood said. “(On the last day before the inspection) everybody started cleaning up, no matter what their job was. That’s when it hit me; this is not just a group of men trying to earn a paycheck, this is a group of men trying to reach a goal. It was absolutely incredible.”

Millwood and his project superintendent Jason Savage were both on site for 16-hours a day. During the last week, a group of electricians were on site for a straight 36-hours in order to get the power permanently running.

“The adrenaline rush of the project kept us going. Once we got our completion order (on Aug. 14), it was like somebody let the wind out of our sails. We were able to go from 20-hour days to 10 to 12-hour days,” Millwood said with a laugh.

Van Ness said that they decided to expand because they have an ever increasing need for more space in their Conyers location. She also said that recent budget cuts to local school systems from the state and local levels, causing cuts in programs for some public schools, played a part in their decision to expand as well. She said that she feels that Peachtree Academy has the ability to offer smaller classroom sizes and more one-on-one attention with students and teachers.

Peachtree Academy is a non-denominational Christian school, which Van Ness said, “is a really huge bonus for the families that attend our school.”

The principal for the Newton is Sandra Russell. There will be a sign with more information about the school located at the property or those interested can visit the school’s website at

Millwood said a key to success was the great working relationship he had with Van Ness. SteelCo built her original campus in Conyers. Partially because the school is a non-profit organization, Millwood did not charge a rush fee for the job.

He said he’s never seen a similar accomplishment and he’s gotten a lot of positive feedback from the community.

“They told me they thought I was kidding the whole time. They told me we did an unbelievable job, and a lot of people told me thanks for taking a local eyesore and turning it into something beautiful,” Millwood said.

He held a sub-contractor appreciation dinner for everyone at the finished school. Most people attended the dinner, catered by Plain Nuts, but some people went home to be with family after one of the most exhausting months of their lives.

The project is a fitting accomplishment for SteelCo, as it celebrates the beginning of its tenth year of existence.

The school has 14 classrooms, eight restrooms, a computer lab, a teacher’s workroom, a reception area, a principal’s office and some janitor’s workrooms. A kitchen and several other facilities, including recreational activities, are planned for future years, Millwood said. The 6.5 acre property will allow the school plenty of room to grow.


Amber Pittman contributed to this story.