Copper Craft

Detroit’s CASS Sheetmetal has evolved to become one of the region’s go-to companies for historic renovation projects.
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Peaks and Planes - A team from CASS Sheetmetal in Detroit works on a roofing project at the Book Tower in downtown Detroit. // Photographs by Josh Scott
Peaks and Planes – A team from CASS Sheetmetal in Detroit works on a roofing project at the Book Tower in downtown Detroit. // Photographs by Josh Scott

CASS Sheetmetal Owner Glenn Parvin describes his company as one that does things the old-fashioned way, with pride and craftsmanship. Because of that, it’s become one of the go-to companies in metro Detroit for historic renovation projects.

CASS, or Custom Architectural Sheetmetal Specialists, began in 1990 as a spinoff of Royal Roofing in Orion Township. “We didn’t start out of a garage,” Parvin recalls. “We started with some help, with seven or eight guys. Gradually we gained more and more independence, and enacted a friendly buyout from Royal Roofing after five years.”

Parvin acquired his current 12,000-square-foot shop, located in the shadow of Coleman A. Young International Airport on the east side of Detroit, in 1995 when the company was doing “a couple million a year” in revenue. His best year, he says, was $13 million right before the pandemic.

“The ’90s were a great boon for our industry and we were in the right place at the right time,” Parvin says. “Our first major historic restoration was in 1999 at the Henry Ford Estate in Dearborn. We were brought in to look at all the tile and copper restoration.”

CASS’s team of historic restoration experts also worked on the Basilica of Ste. Anne de Detroit, on the city’s southwest side, to repair and restore the building in time for its 300th anniversary in 2001. From there, CASS’s reputation slowly grew.

Those projects led to replacing the tin roof of the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing with a gleaming copper roof envisioned by the architect. CASS also helped restore the base of the Capitol’s dome. Other jobs of note include the restoration of the copper dome at the Cranbrook Observatory and installing a new copper roof at Kingswood School, both in Bloomfield Hills.

A team from CASS Sheetmetal in Detroit works on a roofing project at Water Works Park in along the Detroit River.
A team from CASS Sheetmetal in Detroit works on a roofing project at Water Works Park in along the Detroit River.

In addition, CASS fabricated more than 20,000 pounds of 16-ounce copper parts and 7,000 square feet of copper shingles for new domes at St. George Greek Orthodox Church in Troy. The company also created and installed a new, bell-shaped copper roof at St. Paul of Tarsus Church in Clinton Township.

In other noteworthy jobs, CASS handled the restoration of the copper roof atop the Book Tower, 475 feet above downtown Detroit; refurbished the stone and waterproofed the Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial at Put-in-Bay, Ohio; and renovated and repaired the Lurie Bell Tower on the north campus of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

One of the company’s most famous jobs was preventing the 90-foot steeple of Detroit’s St. Josaphat Church from collapsing after a severe wind storm in November 2014.

Current projects include restoring 250,000 square feet of copper roof above the waiting room at Michigan Central, part of Ford Motor Co.’s emerging mobility innovation campus in Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood.

“The talented people created CASS Sheetmetal, not me,” Parvin says of his 38 current employees. “We’ve always been blessed with great craftsmen. That’s been a key to our success, because I always know they can pull it off when a tough job comes in.”