Webber, LLC

HIGH-PROFILE HIGHWAY, AIRPORT PROJECTS PART OF TEXAS CONTRACTOR’S DIVERSIFIED PORTFOLIO

Feb 11, 2014

Komatsu equipment has been a staple in the company’s fleet for nearly 20 years.

When driving in Texas, the chances of traveling a major roadway that Webber, LLC had a hand in building are nearly 100 percent. That’s because during the past three decades-plus, the Houston-based company has grown into one of the Lone Star State’s largest and premier heavy transportation contractors.

Webber, LLC grew from a partnership that started in 1963 as Champagne-Webber when Wayne Webber and Earl Champagne teamed up. At the time, the pair’s business was in Michigan, but they moved operations to Houston in the late 1970s when the Michigan economy took a severe downturn. When Champagne retired in the early 1990s, Webber took sole possession and changed the name to W.W. Webber, which remained as such until about three years ago when the name Webber, LLC became official.

The contractor’s first Texas Department of Transportation project was in 1979, and the company continued to grow steadily to the point where it now general contracts multimillion-dollar projects throughout the state. Webber, LLC gets assistance on some of its projects from subsidiary companies Southern Crushed Concrete and Webber Barrier Service.

“We stand out in our ability to self-perform nearly all aspects of a project,” said Manager Bill Whitney. “That includes everything from pavement removal, earthwork and utility installation to the placement of new pavement. Very little is contracted out, and we like it that way because it gives us complete control of our work schedule.”

More than 750 miles of road work

Webber, LLC has completed more than 1,600 TxDOT projects, accounting for 750-plus miles of new highways. Heavy highway work isn’t the sole emphasis for Webber, which continues to diversify its project portfolio. A few years ago, it started performing large airport projects — including eight major runways at state airports — as well as Army Corps of Engineers and nongovernmental-related work.

“Continued diversification has become a key driver for us,” said Whitney. “Our plans, both short- and long-term, include finding new markets to put our skills to use. While there’s been plenty of governmental work during the past several years, that’s not something we can always count on. Diversification allows us to position ourselves to remain an industry leader in any economic environment. When one’s down, we can easily direct our resources to another.”

Webber has remained strong, even during the economic downturn of a few years ago, and now employs nearly 2,000 of the most talented men and women in the industry. Webber has been proactive about hiring several recent graduates each year, giving it a solid mix of experience and new blood. Field workers are split into crews working on as many as 50 projects that the company has going at any one time.

Current projects include road rehabilitation work on Interstate 35 in Hill County. The $100 million job involves six miles of Interstate rehab, including replacement of several bridges and concrete pavement.

Another $100 million job in Fort Worth has Webber crews working on a five-mile extension of the Highway 183 Southwest Parkway, where the company is excavating, stabilizing and laying concrete pavement.

Komatsu reliability plays a major role

Webber, LLC continues to use Komatsu equipment, which has been a staple in the company’s fleet for nearly 20 years. Whitney said Webber has approximately 100 units, including about 15 WA380-7 wheel loaders it recently purchased from Kirby-Smith Machinery with the help of Territory Manager Ron Weaver. It also runs Komatsu excavators and dozers, including Tier 4 Interim PC360LC-10 and PC490LC-10 models.

“One of the reasons we use Komatsu equipment is its reliability,” said Whitney. “Our general criteria are to keep a machine for seven years or 11,000 hours, and our experience tells us that Komatsu will go well beyond that without major issues. Because we’re constantly busy, so are those machines, and every time we start one up, we’re confident that it’s going to give us maximum uptime and production.

“We get further assurance of that with the new Tier 4 machines, because Komatsu takes care of the scheduled services through its Komatsu CARE program,” added Whitney. The program provides complimentary service for the first three years or 2,000 hours, with work done by certified technicians. “Kirby-Smith uses KOMTRAX and notifies our service manager in Dallas to set up a time and place to take care of it. We’re aggressive about preventive maintenance, and the Komatsu CARE program fits right in with that.”

Webber also uses KOMTRAX to track its Komatsu equipment. “We’re spread out, so neither our service managers nor I can get to every job every day,” noted Whitney. “With KOMTRAX, we can pull up a machine through an Internet Web site and see where it is located, its hours, how it’s being used, idle time and fuel consumption. The detail is amazing, and we can use that information to proactively maintain our machinery and work with operators to ensure they’re in the proper working mode for the application.”

Webber handles service on older pieces of equipment, using parts from Kirby-Smith Machinery. “Ron and Kirby-Smith are great to work with,” said Whitney. “They have most parts on hand when we need them, and if there’s an odd item that they don’t have, they can get it to us in short order. Dealer support is as important as the machinery it carries, and Kirby-Smith does an excellent job.”

Continued diversity

Whitney said there’s no slowing down in the near future as Webber continues to look for ways to expand its portfolio of work.

“One area that Webber has expanded on in the past few years is our design-build services, and we believe that’s an area of emphasis for us going forward,” said Whitney. “We’re already well diversified, but if there’s another area that makes sense for Webber to take on, we’re open to that. As long as it doesn’t jeopardize our ability to complete work on time and on budget, it’s open for discussion.”