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FBi Buildings vs Cleary: Who’s Best for Your Project?

October 28th, 2019 | 23 min. read

Angie Dobson

Angie Dobson

Angie graduated from Indiana State University with a Bachelor of Science in Interior Design. Prior to joining the FBi team, Angie was a kitchen and bath sales consultant in Lafayette, IN. In 2012, she started with FBi as the Inside Sales/Marketing Assistant. Today she holds the role of Sr. Marketing and Inside Sales Manager. Angie grew up in a farming community and has always enjoyed helping her family on the farm. A past 10-year 4-H Member, her passion for livestock pursued her to take a career in the agriculture field. She and her husband live in Northwest Indiana with their two daughters. In her free time, she enjoys outdoor leisure activities and spending time with friends and family.

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Our builder comparison for this week is featuring Cleary® Building Corp. 

Similar to FBi, Cleary constructs buildings for ag, commercial, residential and equine facilities. They’re firmly committed to bringing their clients lasting quality, all at an affordable price. 

In this blog, we will be presenting the facts and strengths of each builder. Our goal is to help you have a better understanding of how FBi compares to Cleary before you make a final decision.

FBi Buildings vs Cleary: 7 Key Differences to Look For

1. Customer Service

FBi Buildings


From the first call into the office all the way to the last call with your Project Manager, FBi tries to ensure that you’re aware of what’s going on with your post-frame building project every step of the way. 

Each customer is assigned their own personal Project Sales Consultant who lives in their area. FBi currently has 30+ Project Sales Consultants that are spread throughout our service area in designated territories. This allows them to meet with you not only to understand your needs in person, but walk your property and help you identify the best location for your building.

Once the project is finalized and you’re ready for construction to start, you will be given a personal Project Manager. They are responsible for the scheduling of FBi’s crews along with providing resources to help check your site prep or answer other questions you might have.

FBi’s Project Managers help outline your project in four specific phases:

    • Processing: Is an overview of the first steps to your construction project. This is also where FBi will be going over site preparation, permitting, and approximate start time.
    • Design & Permit: FBi will follow up with you about your building permits and site prep updates. Your Project Manager will also be reviewing your construction drawings and validating the expected construction start date. 
    • Pre-Mobilization: Involves your Project Manager in completing the steps to set up the date the crew and material will arrive.
    • Construction: This phase details the main milestones that will happen during construction that you need to be aware of along with the finishing steps after completion.


Cleary’s approach is slightly different from FBi’s. If you build with them, you will have one main point of contact throughout the entire post-frame construction process. This approach is also dubbed the Shamrock Service Guarantee. 

This guarantee ensures that your project will run smoothly, on time, and with the quality every customer deserves. It also extends beyond the completion of the building. The same sales specialist will be in contact with you one month and three months after building completion to make sure your building is still performing as it should be.

Who has the best customer service?

Both companies offer assistance every step of the way but with different approaches. Having one point of contact with Cleary from start to finish can help reduce change and be a value add upfront. FBi’s approach of switching from your Project Sales Consultant to your Project Manager can be a negative change at first when compared to Cleary’s consistency. 

However, FBi’s Project Managers are able to spend all their time on sold contracts and assisting you through your entire construction process. In contrast, Cleary’s sales representatives are still tasked with selling other projects and can be harder to get ahold of due to their multiple roles. 

FBi vs Cleary_FBi Wins_Final Blog

Design Your Pole Barn_FBi Buildings


2. Service Areas

FBi Buildings

FBi is a family-owned company that started in 1958. Their corporate headquarters is located in Remington, Indiana. During that time they’ve been known as the preferred pole barn builder in the Midwest. 

Currently, their service area is limited to Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin. However, if you have a unique project that is outside of their building territory, they will look into pursuing other options to see if it is feasible for them to be your pole barn builder. 


Cleary was founded in 1978, and their corporate headquarters and manufacturing plant is located in Verona, WI. Seven years after opening, Cleary opened its first satellite branch in Appleton, WI. A year after that they broke ground in Illinois by opening two offices in the northern and southern parts of the state. 

Expansion has continued and Cleary now has three manufacturing locations throughout the United States. Cleary buildings can be found in: Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Utah, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

Due to their national growth, Cleary opened two more manufacturing plants; located in Nebraska (1995) and Idaho (1998). 

Who has the best service area?

Cleary easily wins this area. With three manufacturing plants and pole barns spread across 34 states, their service area coverage can’t be beaten. 

FBi vs Cleary_Cleary Wins


3. Pole Barn Materials

FBi buildings_steel gauage_tensile strengthSteel

FBi Buildings

FBi’s panels are 29 gauge, heat-treated, full-hard, high-tensile steel with a minimum yield point of 80,000 PSI (pounds per square inch). That’s 60 - 78% higher than what’s commonly used. 

A high yield is nearly twice as strong as other steel and can improve the structural integrity of your building by providing greater resistance to impact damage from hail, rocks, etc.

Their buildings also feature galvalume walls and roofs. Depending on what pole barn color you choose, FBi will also use galvanized steel panels on their walls. 

Galvalume is a combination of aluminum, silicon, and zinc coating that fights corrosion. This is different from galvanized steel, where once their galvanized coatings wear down or are penetrated, corrosion will begin to spread.


Cleary uses Grandrib 3® Plus Enduracote. This type of steel is a 29 gauge, 100,000 PSI galvanized structural steel. It’s also constructed with 10 layers of protection. 

Although it's galvanized steel, it does include two layers of galvanization, which results in 67% more corrosion protection. Their zic pre-treatment also includes two layers. This step helps prepare the paint while adding additional corrosion resistance. 

Who has the best steel?

FBi gets the nod for this one due to the fact that the steel they use is galvalume. Galvalume steel is different from galvanized because once their steel panels wear down or get penetrated (think hail, rocks flying up from a mower, etc) corrosion is less likely to spread. 

*Galvanized steel is less costly steel which allows Cleary to save cost compared to Galvalume steel.

FBi vs Cleary_FBi Wins_Final Blog


FBi Buildings

The type of wood that FBi uses is dependent on the building design. For example, if you’re going to build a pole barn that will have large clear spans than FBi will use Machine Stress-Rated (MSR) lumber for their trusses. Each piece of MSR lumber is tested for stiffness and strength prior to being used.

FBi will also use #1 lumber for jobs that require smaller trusses.


All of Cleary’s structural framing lumber is #2 or better S4S material. This type of material is kiln dried to a moisture content of 19% or less. This is the type of wood that you’ll usually find for sale in the big box stores like Home Depot and Lowes. 

Who has the best wood?

FBi is the better choice for wood because they use MSR or #1 lumber only. MSR/#1 lumber is different from any S4S material because it is evaluated and intended for any engineered application. With FBi building in a smaller location compared to Cleary, this allows them to be more rigorous on using only certain quality of lumber. 

FBi vs Cleary_FBi Wins_Final Blog

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FBi ScrewsFBi Buildings

FBi uses a stainless steel capped, self-sealing screw. The screw fasteners encapsulate the sealing washer to protect it from the elements and to improve aesthetics. 

The washer maintains its seal and is more reliable than commonly used neoprene, and offers the best heat, cold, weather, and ozone resistance.


Competitor Screws_FBi BuildingsCleary uses two different applications for its fastening system. 

Their roof and sidewall panels are attached with galvanized screws and a flat bonded sealing washer. Their sidewall girts are attached to their columns with galvanized 20d ring shank nails.

Who has the best screws?

FBi is the better choice for screws because the screws that they use are stainless steel. The head of the screw is formed to “umbrella” the washer to protect it from the elements and dry rot, longer. If you are worried about roof leaks, you’ll want to make sure that you have a screw that is protecting the water sealing washer. FBi’s stainless steel head is guaranteed to never rust.

Similar to galvanized steel, galvanized screws also have the tendency to rust and corrode over time.

FBi vs Cleary_FBi Wins_Final Blog


FBi Buildings

FBi trusses are made in their own plant and engineered specifically for your building. Their truss plant is also certified by a third party Truss Plate Institute inspection service to ensure the quality fabrication of all trusses. 

The lumber used to build the trusses is joined with heavy-duty steel plates. These plates have a dense concentration of long teeth providing excellent grip on the wood.


Cleary’s trusses are also engineered by their own employees. Similar to FBi, each truss is custom designed or “made to order” for each post frame building project by their engineering department. 

They also follow the same specifications as set forth by the Truss Plate Institute. 

Who has the best trusses?

FBi wins this narrowly as they regularly use MSR lumber when constructing their trusses. Using MSR lumber allows FBi to be even more precise when engineering truss strength when compared to Cleary trusses.    

FBi vs Cleary_FBi Wins_Final Blog



FBi Buildings

Paint Comparison_FBi Buildings

FBi’s side and roof panels are finished with the Kynar 500 Fluoropolymer paint system. This system isn’t just a wet dipped or sprayed on paint, it’s baked on paint that has a strong resistance to fading, chalking, and corrosion. 

Developed in the 1960s, Kynar was initially produced by a single manufacturer for use on historic and monumental buildings. Their panels are known to retain their rich color for 40 years or longer.


The side and roof panels that Cleary uses are finished with the Enduracote® Paint System. This paint system is based on resin technology and offers durability and long-term performance against the elements (30-year warranty for fade and chalk). 

Enduracote is known for being low maintenance, its lasting beauty, and outstanding value. 

Who has the best paint?

Both paint systems are extremely well known in the post frame industry, but FBi gets the win for this one due to the strong resistance to fading, chalking, and corrosion of Kynar paint. 

FBi vs Cleary_FBi Wins_Final Blog

Pole Barn Quote_FBi Buildings



FBi Buildings


There are two types of ground contact for your columns that you can choose from when pricing your building: Laminated and Perma-Column

Similar to FBi’s trusses, they also build their laminated columns in-house. Laminated columns have greater strength in standard post frame buildings and longevity against rot than solid posts. Each layer of ground contact lumber is completely permeated with wood preservative and kiln-dried. 

Not all column treatments are equal. FBi uses a .80 treatment in their columns which is 33% greater than industry standards. This treatment prevents rot and termite damage. 

Alternatively, you can use Perma-Columns which are precast concrete columns. This sustainable solution is guaranteed to withstand insect damage, decay, and rotting as no wood goes into the ground. 

Using 10,000 PSI precast concrete, perma-columns are 3x stronger than standard concrete. Then, the columns are reinforced with 60,000 psi rebar welded to a ¼’’ steel bracket.


Cleary also builds its columns in-house. The columns that they construct are a non-spliced, laminated treated column that’s made up of southern pine wood. If you compare them to a solid 6x6 column, it offers better strength and decay resistance. 

Each member of their columns is treated before being laminated together, which will essentially give you a fully-treated column. It does cost a little more for the treated columns, but Cleary stands behind their extra strength. 

Who has the best columns?

This one is a tie. FBi is the better choice for columns when installing Perma-Columns which are stronger, will last longer, and will not decay over time. If you choose to go this route, you’ll also be receiving a better warranty compared to laminated columns. When it comes to using wood columns only, Cleary’s non-spliced columns are an excellent choice. 

FBi vs Cleary_Tie


FBi Buildings

Sliding Doors

Step_Saver_LatchFBi’s EasyMotion sliding door was introduced in 2010. One of the perks that’s included with this door is the StepSaver Latch. This system saves you time and energy. No more running around to the walk-in door to disengage cam latches and snugger chains. Just turn the key and grab the handle. It’s that simple! 

The EasyMotion door also features the Posi-Guide Track. This guide doesn’t collect rain, ice, snow, or debris (i.e., bird nests and leaves). A unique low-friction polymer roller is protected behind and underneath the track. This system keeps the door snug to the building as it operates.

Overhead Doors

Overhead doors are something that is not standard with FBi’s buildings. If you’re interested in having overhead doors on your building we will work directly with our preferred vendors to supply you with the style and size needed. 

Our in-house engineers carefully evaluate the entire building system and will specify the necessary foundation, column and header sizes to carry the expected loads for each door. 


Sliding Doors

All of Cleary’s sliding doors are constructed with steel horizontals and verticals and are covered with the same steel panels that are used on their sidewalls. Each door leaf (or section) is supported with a pair of trolley hangers. 

Their door track consists of high carbon galvanized steel. It’s also self-cleaning and self-aligning. The bottom of their doors is secured with a galvanized steel guide. 

Overhead Doors

Similar to FBi, overhead doors are something that is not standard with Cleary buildings. If you’re interested in having overhead doors on your building they will also work directly with their preferred vendors to supply you with the style and size needed. 

Who has the best doors?

If you’re comparing sliding doors only, then FBi gets the nod for this one with their EasyMotion Sliding Door and StepSaver latch. However, if you prefer to use overhead doors then both companies are capable of finding preferred vendors to work with. 

FBi vs Cleary_FBi Wins and Cleary Astric




FBi Buildings

Gulliford_Commercial_Header ImageBelieve it or not, there’s a lot of decisions to make when choosing windows for your pole barn. The windows that we offer are energy-efficient and come in popular styles.

Some of your choices could include the following:

  • Double-hung
  • Single slider
  • Eyebrow
  • Half-round
  • Gothic
  • Full Circle
  • Hexagon
  • Quarter-round


Cleary also offers a wide variety of energy-efficient windows that come in several popular styles. Whether you’re looking for windows with grids, windows with shutters, or horizontal sliding windows...you’ll be able to choose from a variety of sizes.

Who has the best windows?

This is a tie between FBi and Cleary as they both offer windows with their buildings. We do offer one piece of advice though...don’t be afraid to shop around. Sometimes you’ll find similar windows for a cheaper price at your local hardware store. 

FBi vs Cleary_Tie

Who has the best materials overall?

Out of the eight different material categories FBi comes out the winner. They win six out of the eight; those being steel, wood, screws, trusses, paint and doors. Cleary ties FBi with their columns and window selection. 

FBi vs Cleary_Material Winners_Final Blog

Design Your Pole Barn_FBi Buildings


4. Delivery

FBi Buildings


The same day that your construction starts, your material will be delivered on-site. FBi doesn’t prefer to deliver your materials to your site and have them sit out in the elements until the crew shows up. Depending on the size of your project will also determine the size and type of equipment that will be showing up. 

FBi normally brings the following equipment to a job-site:

  • A semi for material and delivery
  • Gradall / telehandler
  • Crew truck and trailer
  • Skid-steer. if applicable
  • And a crane, if applicable

Their materials are delivered with company employed drivers straight from their own lumber yard.


Cleary’s materials are delivered on Cleary trucks and unloaded by their driver. Prior to the materials being delivered, the purchaser is responsible for providing adequate room for the semi-truck and crew to access their building site. 

Who has the best delivery?

This is a tie between FBi and Cleary. Cleary does offer a wider range of delivery (due to its national brand), but FBi offers a more personalized and comprehensive approach to delivery. 

FBi vs Cleary_Tie

5. Construction

FBi Buildings


The quality of the construction crew is a major factor in building your pole barn. Experienced men make fewer mistakes, giving you a higher quality building.

FBi Buildings crews are employees of FBi Buildings and are specifically trained in the safe construction of pole barns. FBi buildings strive to employ local individuals for crews across their expanding territory. This allows their 45+ crews to serve an area they are familiar with.

FBi Building's commitment is to provide you with excellent service from start to finish! We have a Crew Management team of construction veterans who oversee and support the foremen and his crew. In fact, our average tenure is over 17 years between our foremen and our crew management team!


Cleary also employees their own construction crews, and their crew foreman are provided with continuous education on safety, quality, and productivity. 

Similar to FBi, they also have their own safety program (Work Smart/Work Safe) that each crewman goes through.  

Who has the best construction?

Both companies provide construction crews, but the nod here goes to FBi. FBi takes this one because of their tenure experience between their crews and Crew Management teams. With having a smaller region to service, this has allowed FBi to maintain their crews and foreman for industry records. 

FBi vs Cleary_FBi Wins_Final Blog

6. Warranty

FBi Buildings

A pole barn warranty is simply a promise to stand behind a product or service. All warranties are limited, and there is no standard warranty in the post frame industry.

Here’s what’s covered under FBi’s warranty:

  • Columns: Lifetime
  • Roof Structure: 20 Years
  • Red Rust: 15 Years
  • Paint: 40 Years
  • Gloss Loss: 5 Years
  • Roof Leaks: 5 Years
  • Sliding Doors: Lifetime
  • Workmanship: 1 Year


Cleary also offers a warranty on their pole barns. As mentioned above, there is no standard warranty in the post frame industry so when you’re comparing builders it’s important to ask for the builder’s warranty before making a final decision. 

Here’s what’s covered under Cleary’s warranty:

  • Workmanship: 1 Year
  • Wind damage on all locked slide doors: 5 Years
  • Roof Leaks: 5 Years
  • Structural Framework: 5 Years
  • Columns: 50 Years

Who has the best warranty?

FBi wins this with having a more comprehensive list of warrantied features and their coverage is longer lasting on average. 

FBi vs Cleary_FBi Wins_Final Blog

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7. Cost

FBi Buildings

FBi is well aware that they aren’t the cheapest post frame builder out there, but they also aren’t the most expensive. 

A standard pole building shell can cost anywhere from $20 to $60 per square foot. Now, you’re probably asking yourself, “Why is there a big difference in price per square foot?” 

Here’s why...

The following factors will determine if your pole barn is leaning towards the low/high side of the cost spectrum:

  • Total square feet
  • Type of features (e.g., overhangs, windows, walk-in doors, steel liner packages, etc.)
  • Current nature of the commodities market (the price of steel)

For example, adding a porch, cupolas, and numerous doors will push you closer to the $45 per square foot depending on the size of the building.  


When it comes to cost, Cleary has distinguished themselves in the industry as an economical post frame building option.

If you are looking at putting up a simple pole barn you can expect around $33 per square foot. This square foot costs will be dictated by the size of the building (larger size will reduce your square foot cost) in addition to what features you will be adding.  

Who has the best cost?

When removing all factors that go into cost and just look at the raw cost between the two companies Cleary will typically win this battle. Due to the number of buildings they build each year and material options Cleary is able to beat the price of most post frame builders. 

FBi vs Cleary_Cleary Wins


Who’s Best for Your Post Frame Building Project?

FBi vs Cleary_Overall Winners

Every builder has their advantages and disadvantages, and the final decision is solely up to you and your specific needs. 

  • Cleary is the way to go if you’re looking for a low cost national builder and would prefer to have one point of contact throughout the entire construction process.

  • FBi Buildings is the right choice if you’re looking to make a long-lasting investment and would like to get a more personalized sales experience. 

If you’re still unsure about what to do, we recommend checking out these additional resources:

We’d be happy to work with you on your pole barn project if you’re located in Indiana, Illinois, Eastern Iowa, and Southern Michigan.

Pole Barn Quote_FBi Buildings

Do you have more questions that are not covered in this article? If you need help designing and planning, please contact FBi Buildings at 800.552.2981 or click here to email us. If you are ready to get a price, click here to request a quote and a member of our customer engagement team will help you determine the next steps of your project.