American Ground Screw Inc., a Des Moines-based distributor of a screw system for anchoring foundations, announced that the International Code Council has certified its product for use in the United States. It’s the first company to receive ICC certification for such a ground screw system. 

With the certification, U.S. builders will be able to use AGS’ ground screw technology to build foundations with a fraction of the labor, expense and environmental impact, said Kirk Martin, general manager of AGS. 

”For so many applications, the ground screw is easier, faster and cheaper than concrete,” Martin said in a press release. “And unlike ICC-certified helical pile products, the American Ground Screw does not require installation certification, and is therefore available for anyone to install.” 

Martin, who for nine years was director of Drake University’s Chinese Cultural Exchange Program, helped to recruit the Chinese-owned company to Des Moines and became its general manager in 2017. Hebei province and Des Moines have had a sister-city relationship since 1983. 

Xiaoming Zhang and Lu Han, the husband-wife owners of AGS’ sourcing and manufacturing company based in Shijiazhuang in Hebei province, said the decision to base their U.S. sales and distribution hub in Des Moines was an easy one. 

“Des Moines and Iowa’s reputation in China, its central location in North America and the quality of life it offers our family made the decision to move here and grow our business an easy one,” the couple said in a statement. “Our personal and company’s growth in the past three years, and being the first to receive ICC certification for ground screws, proves to us we made the right decision in coming here.” 

The company purchased a 50,000-square-foot distribution center at 512 Tuttle St. in 2018. Martin said AGS currently has five employees at the distribution center. 

Martin said the majority of AGS’ sales since its Des Moines launch have been in non-ICC-certified ground screw and helical pile systems used for solar power projects. Its goal is to get between 20,000 and 25,000 ICC-certified screws in the ground for construction projects over the next year. 

“The product has much more acceptance in Canada, so we will be focusing our efforts on that country,” he said. Educating the U.S. construction industry and building code officials about the use of foundation ground screws will take some time, he said. 

With the ICC certification, one of the company’s next goals is to expand into the residential/consumer market with distribution to big-box home improvement stores.