Valley Corporation

THIS NEBRASKA FIRM HAS EVOLVED TO OFFER A WIDE ARRAY OF SERVICES TO CUSTOMERS

Feb 7, 2014

Komatsu earthmoving machines - on time and on budget

Valley, Neb.-based Valley Corporation has been an Omaha-area contracting firm for more than 40 years. As is to be expected during such a lengthy period, there have been ups and downs and Valley Corp. has adapted in order to survive.

Valley Corp. was originally a commercial building contractor, founded in 1972 by Del and Helen Chapin. When their daughter Bonnie and son-in-law Roger Bevington took over in 1977, they changed the focus to their area of expertise, which was general contracting with a strong emphasis on civil work. As the company grew in the early ‘90s, they added concrete crushing. Under third-generation owner, Matt Bevington, Valley Corp. has continued to evolve.

“We do site development/earthwork, and our preference is to be the general contractor,” said Bevington. “For site work, our services include demolition, excavation, utilities and grading. We basically perform everything ourselves except for paving and landscaping. Then, in addition to our site work, we also do sheet piling and crushing. So we have a lot of different aspects to the company and can go a lot of different directions for our customers.”

Throughout the ‘80s and much of the ‘90s, Valley Corp. was a good-size company with up to as many as 80 employees. By the time Matt joined the firm full time in 2001, his parents had downsized and only had about a dozen employees, most of them involved with crushing. When he purchased Valley Corp. in 2005, there were about 20 employees. Despite a challenging economy, especially in 2009 and 2010, Matt has grown the business every year. Today, Valley Corp. employs more than 50 people.

“I give a lot of credit to my grandparents and my parents,” said Matt. “They laid the foundation, and I certainly learned quite a bit from them. But I also take a lot of pride in the fact that since I’ve owned the company, we’ve grown every single year in terms of employment, revenue and profits.”

Site and “specialty” work

Valley Corp.’s bread and butter is utility and earthwork, but what really sets the company apart is its specialty work.

“Most jobs in the city have some demolition element associated with them, so we have a specialized demo crew. We also are an aggregate supplier with two retail facilities in the metro area and two mobile crushing plants, one of which goes between our local locations while the other travels statewide to do custom crushing.”

In addition to demolition and crushing, another sub-specialty of Valley Corp. is sheet pile work, which can lead to some interesting projects, such as one last year on the Missouri River. Because of the drought, the Corps of Engineers was dropping the river level to record lows.

“As a result, a casino boat was at risk of hitting bottom, which could have damaged the boat and closed the entire gambling operation,” Bevington explained. “We were brought in to sheet-pile a wall across the boat slip to allow the casino to pump water in to keep the boat afloat. To do it, we mounted a Komatsu PC400 with a pile driver onto a barge and worked from the water. The GC gave us three weeks to get the job done because that’s how quickly the river level was dropping. We completed it in a week and a half.

“That’s the type of specialty project we’re able to do. A lot of contractors either can’t or don’t want to try that type of work, but we enjoy the challenge. We feel as though jobs like that bring out the best in our people and our company.”

A more typical job, although bigger than most, is Valley Corp.’s work at the Strategic Command (StratCom) HQ project at Offutt Air Force Base. The company is doing all the site utilities as a sub for KiewitPhelps. “It’s the biggest construction project going on in Nebraska,” said Bevington. “We’re proud to be part of such a significant job and to be working with one of the nation’s largest contracting firms.”

Getting hands dirty

In order to complete jobs like those, Bevington relies on a top-notch work force, led by Vice President Al Hagemann and Controller Paul Hanson.

“Our greatest strength as a company is our employees. We’ve got a good team up and down the line – especially management. Our superintendents also do a great job keeping the quality of our work at a high level and keeping jobs moving forward.

“Both Al and I spend a lot of time in the field. We might be overseeing projects, or we might be operating equipment. Our attitude is ‘whatever is needed, and whatever it takes.’ We don’t mind getting our hands dirty. In fact, we kind of like it.”

Komatsu and RoadBuilders “have helped us grow”

For equipment to help his team complete projects on time and on budget, Bevington turns to RoadBuilders Machinery & Supply for Komatsu earthmoving machines.

“We started working with RoadBuilders when we needed a track crusher back in the early 2000s,” Bevington recalled. “At the same time, we got two brand-new Komatsus. That’s when we got to know our Sales Rep Warren Kutz and other RoadBuilders personnel. We’ve made a pretty good team ever since.”

Today, Valley Corp. owns six Komatsu hydraulic excavators (two PC400s, two PC300s and two PC138s), three Komatsu wheel loaders (WA500, WA400 and WA200) and two Komatsu dozers (D65 and D51). The company also rents a significant amount of Komatsu equipment.

“We’re Komatsu fans because we have a history with the machines, and we know how well they perform,” said Bevington. “Take the dozers for example. The D65 is new, but we’ve had the D51 for several years and love it. It’s big enough to do good-size jobs but small enough to get around crowded jobsites safely because it offers great visibility. We put GPS on both dozers to help us grade more effectively and more efficiently.

“As for Komatsu excavators, we’ve had great luck with them throughout the years. Best of all, they hold up without nickel-and-diming us to death on repairs. They’re also quick. We put one of our old PC300s up against a new competitive excavator, and it was no comparison – the Komatsu swung much faster. Komatsu excavators are quick, reliable and last a long time. What more do you want?”

Well, Bevington actually does want one more thing – dealer support.

“We count on RoadBuilders for parts and service, and they’ve done a good job providing the support we need to be successful. When we call, they get back to us. When we need a technician, they respond quickly. And our sales rep, Warren Kutz, has been a big help getting us the machines we need when we need them. He gives me good advice and always has good, clean equipment. We’ve been working with RoadBuilders for more than a decade, and I’d definitely say they’ve helped us grow.”

Confident and optimistic

Regarding that growth, Bevington says he was confident it would happen, but is a little surprised it’s happened as quickly as it has.

“I knew what the company could be – I’d been here when it was a large firm and felt we could get back to that level. So I did have a vision of where I wanted to go with it, and I’m very pleased that we’ve grown the way we have.

“If we can continue to find good employees, and if the economy continues to improve, I think we can continue to grow. However, I’m not looking to become a huge company or to add a whole bunch of new services. We’re doing things we’re passionate about – things that we enjoy and think we’re good at. I believe that’s why we’ve been successful. And as long as we can keep that passion, I’m optimistic about our future.”