About Us


Robertson Office Building - Our History

Robertson Building Systems is a company with a rich history and heritage. We’ve been around for over 150 years, which is quite a feat. Not only does Robertson have a long history, we have deep roots in our community.

Roberton’s story began when Thomas Irwin, an Irish immigrant, established a tinsmith and roofers shop in Hamilton in 1863. After 47 years his son, John Thomas Irwin, took over and in 1920, his grandson, Thomas Arnold Irwin, inherited control.

Meanwhile, a Canadian from New Brunswick – Harold Hansard (H.H.) Robertson – started a small plant in Canton, Massachusetts to manufacture protected metal for industrial roofing and siding.  In 1917, the Robertson company started operations in Sarnia, Ontario, with engineering and sales headquarters in Toronto.

With common interests in industrial construction, each company made increasing use of each other’s products and services. During World War II, the Irwin company made products to Robertson’s specifications.  As compatibility and interests grew, the companies merged in 1945 to become the nucleus of the modern Robertson-Irwin Limited.

More recent history shows that in 1968, Robertson-Irwin partnered with Varco Pruden and built a new factory in Hamilton, Ontario in 1969. In 1971, Robertson bought Varco Pruden’s shares. Growing in size and capability, Robertson purchased Star Building Systems in 1988 and then merged with Ceco Corporation in 1990. The merger provided an extension of products and systems integration opportunities, again strengthening the company. Robertson-Ceco Corporation was publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange and in April 2000, Heico Corp. purchased all outstanding shares.

In 2006, Robertson-Ceco Corporation was purchased by NCI resulting in expanded product lines and increased manufacturing capabilities. In 2019, NCI Inc. and Ply Gem Building Products merged to form Cornerstone Building Brands and become North America’s largest supplier of residential and commercial building solutions.

Robertson is proud of the valuable industry knowledge gained over many years serving the construction market. We have learned that no one knows construction better than building contractors in their local markets. That’s why Robertson carefully selects qualified, independent design-build contractors to be authorized Robertson Builders. Your Robertson District Manager can suggest the right builder for your next project.