Shelter Structures Celebrates a Decade of Success, Thriving Despite Economic Downturn

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Shelter Structures Inc. has seen a decade of success despite a troublesome economy.

While many businesses have failed to stay afloat over the past ten years, Shelter Structures has bucked the odds to not only celebrate a decade of success this January, but they’ve experienced outstanding growth and expansion while continuously creating innovative designs driven by customer needs.

How have they made it when so many others have not?

Shelter Structures owner Patty Smail explains, “The economic downturn over the last few years has been difficult, but we are fortunate to have a product that is useful in both good times and bad. When the economy is booming, we can help expansion plans with a building that can be operational in eight weeks. When the economy is in a downturn, we provide a cost effective alternative to brick and mortar.”
The company has been able to come up with some remarkable solutions to very difficult challenges presented by some of their customers, creating an environmentally friendly building as a result. Their first hybrid building was designed for the U.N. to serve as the main post office in Port au Prince Haiti after the devastating earthquake in 2010.

One of the difficulties of this project was the need to have sturdy counters that could withstand the pressures of people leaning against them, as well as security concerns for the shelter overall. Shelter Structures' solution was to build the first eight feet of the shelter out of metal. Since then Shelter Structures has had more requests for the new “hardsides,” as they’re called. The DOD (U.S. Department of Defense) likes to use them for warehouses, according to Smail.

While this was their first hybrid building, the steel used in their shelters is recycled with the translucent fabric allowing natural light and reducing energy costs. As the shelters can be relocated to be used elsewhere, it leaves no footprint at the original site – and just another way the company contributes to the efforts of “going green.”

Shelter Structures has also saved the government money and even contributed to the safety of our service men and women. They provided a cost-effective solution to the U.S. Navy that maximized tarmac space by designing 18 triple-wide canopies instead of 54 individual aircraft canopies that required ten feet of space between them, allowing three aircraft per structure – ultimately reducing their anticipated footprint, saving time and money.

This year, they’ll continue these efforts by working on a project that will cover 113 aircraft with 50 canopies.

A few of Shelter Structures “fun” projects over the years, Smail says, include designing a very large, track-mounted shelter that provided access to a 42,000 square foot work area, “backlot work at Disney,” and “designing a building for the Space Shuttle Endeavor.”

Smail believes that in another ten years, Shelter Structures will still be “leading the way with innovation and customization.” She adds, “We are constantly looking for new materials to make a better product and believe that this industry has a long way to grow in the United States. We look forward to growing and expanding our position as the most creative, customer centric producer in the field. We are hoping our next 10 years will be as successful at the first.

For more information, visit

Shelter Structures
2043 Locust Street, 2B
Philadelphia, PA 19103


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