“This Is Not Your Father’s Oldsmobile.” In 1988, General Motors Oldsmobile brand introduced what it described as a new generation of cars under the tagline “This Is Not Your Father’s Oldsmobile.” The commercials featured celebrities like William Shatner and Ringo Starr paired with their adult children.

The slogan was meant to convey that the new Oldsmobile models were sleeker, more technologically advanced, and appealing to a broader demographic. It emphasized the idea that Oldsmobile had made significant changes and was no longer associated with the cars that older generations might have driven.

Ever since its introduction around the 1988 Seoul, South Korea Olympics, this iconic tagline has become synonymous with how things have changed.

This Is Not Your Father’s Pole Barn

The American pole barn has a long history, tracing its roots back to the early 20th century. During that time of economic strife, the affordability and ease of construction lead to the birth of this industry so many of us have been blessed to live and work in for decades.

Our great grandparents and earlier used what was available. The term “Telephone Pole Barns” was a popular name for this type of building due to the use of round telephone poles.

These barns were very simple and utilitarian at the time, typically built with only a dirt floor. These buildings featured bare galvanized corrugated steel roofing and siding, attached with an unpainted galvanized nails with a neoprene washer. Typically a couple of slide doors, a man door, and no eave or gable overhang was the norm.

As a very basic but quick and a cost-conscious alternative, these “telephone pole barns’ started dotting the countryside of rural America. During its infancy the pole barn was primarily a farm building.

What a difference a few decades has made. Today we have post-frame buildings that can rival or even surpass other types of construction. Let’s take a look at some of the design features which have impacted our industry.

Preprinted Metal

The options are seeming limitless. Such an arraignment of colors to choose from it would appear impossible for a homeowner or business owner having an issue finding just the right look. In addition to the obvious aesthetics garnered from all the high-tech paint systems, we have choices on substrates like galvanized and galvalume. Couple this with multiple gauge options and the desired cladding is easy to obtain. The decades-long paint warranties add to the acceptance of post frame in so many applications. With the new textured, frost or crinkle finishes available, we have an even broader range of design options.


The cupola can trace its existence back to ancient times. Today these are such an in-demand product. An array of sizes, shapes, and colors manufactured from an assortment of materials make these a must on many structures. While primarily used as an accent, they can be operative from the standpoint of ventilation or as a light source.

Porches, Awnings, etc.

Your vision seems to be the only limiting factor here. We have all seen so many great designs incorporating everything from the simple awning built over an entry door all the way to beautiful porches … some even wrapping several, if not all, sides of the building.

Doors, Windows, and More…

Again, so many choices. From very utilitarian to barndominiums, the choice of doors and windows is also endless. With today’s options and acceptability in our industry, the sky is the limit on what we can accomplish.

Don’t forget equine structures! Dutch and Bale doors, pre-built manufactured cross buck and window slide doors, French doors and stall options for the inside. An amazing array of options to choose from.


Let’s not forget the posts themselves; after all, we are in the post-frame or pole barn industry, right? We are such a far cry from the original “Telephone Pole Barn.” Of course there is the old standby treated solid sawn pole but, we have many more options at our disposal today. Laminated columns in nail lam, nail/glue lam, and glue laminated are readily available and add a whole new depth to the decision marketing process. Couple the treated posts with all the alternatives to wood in the ground and the options continue to grow. These options greatly assist in getting post frame approved for a myriad of projects that may not been open to us in the past.

Let’s finish up with barndominiums, which are experiencing rapid and substantial growth. What an opportunity for some high-level growth. There are so many design options which only a post-frame or metal frame building can facilitate. This makes for a designer’s dream.

There we go my friends. We are at such an exciting place in our industry. Remember … this is not your father’s pole barn. FBN

This article originally ran in the November 2023 issue. Click here to read more stories from that edition.

To read more post-frame construction business advice articles click here.