Komatsu equipment adds to the value of the partnership
Not all that long ago, Kendall Adams and Mike Webb, President and Senior Vice President of Manhattan Road & Bridge respectively, were leading rival companies. Adams headed up M.J. Lee Construction and Webb oversaw Muskogee Bridge Company. That changed about a year ago when M.J. Lee acquired Muskogee, and the two companies became Manhattan Road & Bridge.
“We were in competition with each other, but we’re also friends,” Adams pointed out. “Combining the two companies means we can do larger work using the skills and knowledge that both brought to the table. We believe this is a big benefit for all involved.”
Already Tulsa-based Manhattan Road & Bridge’s project portfolio totals more than $160 million worth of work in the governmental, private railroad bridge, and port and dock sectors. The company offers general contracting, design/build and construction management within its extensive list of services that include turnkey road and bridge projects, bridge repair services, pile driving and sheet, pipe and concrete piling.
“Manhattan does projects that range anywhere from $20,000 to more than $40 million, so we’re able to tackle just about anything,” said Webb. “Before M.J. Lee acquired Muskogee, it had purchased Southern Pavers, which specialized in asphalt, crushing, grading and urban renewal. Our customers really appreciate that we self-perform nearly every aspect of a project, which means better efficiency.”
Adams and Webb are quick to note that customers already appreciated what their respective companies did before the merger. Each of the three previous businesses that now make up Manhattan Road & Bridge Company have long, successful histories. Founded in 1956, M.J. Lee focused on bridge work, including installation of eight overpasses and six underpasses as part of I-244 in Tulsa County — one of its many award-winning projects.
Muskogee Bridge originated in 1970, also with an eye on bridge projects, and had more than 500 projects on its resume. Southern Pavers brought similar services to the table. The combination of the three companies gives Manhattan Road & Bridge a border-to-border presence in Oklahoma, as well as a large footprint in Arkansas, southern Kansas and northern Texas.
Employees are its biggest asset
“Combined, there’s more than a century of history on our side, as well as countless years of experience among the staff members,” said Adams. “You put all that together, and the possibilities are practically limitless for what Manhattan can do.”
The newly formed Manhattan Road & Bridge is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Manhattan Construction Group, which has Manhattan Construction, Kraft Construction and Cantera Concrete under its umbrella. Also included in the management team at Manhattan Road & Bridge is Senior Vice President Todd Saxton.
In all, Manhattan Road & Bridge has more than 400 employees, and Webb and Adams emphasize these employees are key to the company’s success. The staffs’ efforts have helped Manhattan win numerous honors, including two Eagle Awards from the Associated Builders and Contractors this year: one in the category of Infrastructure/Heavy-Emergency Restoration on state Highway 20 and Keetonville Hill, and one for Infrastructure/Heavy over $10 million for construction of the I-540/Perry Road Interchange.
“Without a doubt our employees are our biggest asset,” acknowledged Webb. “Nearly 100 percent stayed on after the merger, and that serves Manhattan well. We put a high value on their service, and reward them for a job well done. We believe our staff is the best in the business at providing a quality project done on time and on budget, hands down.”
Large equipment fleet
With the merger, Manhattan Road & Bridge now also has one of the largest equipment fleets in the Tulsa area. While cranes make up a large percentage of the fleet, Manhattan also uses Komatsu earthmoving machinery and support pieces purchased from Kirby-Smith with the help of Territory Manager Dan Rutz.
“Bridge work is equipment-intensive because not only do we have to lift materials into place, but we do a lot of drainage work and excavation for piers and approaches,” said Adams. “Both of our companies were already Komatsu users, so that added to the value of the partnership. We encounter all types of conditions and situations, and we haven’t found many that a Komatsu machine wouldn’t handle.”
Manhattan’s Komatsu fleet includes excavators ranging from a compact PC78 to PC400LC-8s. “The PC78s are fairly new additions, and we really like the versatility they offer,” noted Webb. “If there are tight quarters we can get in and dig. We do a lot of retaining-wall work and the PC78s are beneficial because we can dig and swing up close without worrying about hitting the wall. We can also equip them with an attachment for doing demolition work. The larger machines are great for moving mass dirt on approaches and digging for drain tile.”
The company uses Komatsu dozers for grading and backfilling, including the award-winning D51s. “The technology in the D51 is revolutionary,” emphasized Adams. “They’re easier to operate than the older machines we replaced. They have more horsepower, so we can use them to push as well as grade on slopes, which was sometimes a big challenge before. And the visibility and six-way blade are unrivaled. They’ve really sped up our production while saving us in fuel costs.”
In addition, Manhattan uses Komatsu wheel loaders for various tasks and Sky Trak lifting machines. The company services its machinery with staff mechanics and turns to Kirby-Smith for additional support and parts as needed.
“Our relationship with Kirby-Smith goes back a long way because they offer us service that’s second-to-none,” stated Webb. “Not only do they offer quality machinery, but they back it up. Anytime we’ve needed something, they’ve responded quickly.”
Ready for the future
Currently, Manhattan Road & Bridge has several multimillion-dollar projects, including the relocation of 6.1 miles of Interstate 40 through downtown Oklahoma City and nearly six miles of reconstruction work on Interstate 244 in Tulsa. The combined resources of the three businesses that made up what’s now Manhattan are well-suited for such projects, as well as even bigger ones in the future, according to Adams and Webb.
“We believe that soon, heavy highway and bridge work is going to change; there will be more public-private partnerships, what we call P3, and that’s going to lend itself to larger projects,” said Webb. “We’re poised to take advantage of that. In fact, we’ve already seen the genesis of it with the Interdispersal Loop Project in Tulsa that we’re working on as a joint venture with another company. It calls for the removal of the existing decking and redecking of 44 bridges.”
“It’s the biggest project any of us have ever done,” added Adams of the stimulus-funded project. “If one of our previous companies tried to do it alone, it would completely consume them. But with our combined resources as Manhattan, we’re able to do it within the 18-month time frame that’s required. There’s more work like that coming, and now we’re ready for it.”