Glen Peterson Construction

THIS DEPRESSION-ERA COMPANY HAS BECOME ONE OF SASKATCHEWAN’S LEADING MATERIAL PRODUCERS

Apr 13, 2012

Komatsu equipment and dealer support - winning combination

Glen Peterson Construction has about as much history as any construction-related company in Saskatchewan. As an aggregate supplier and trucking contractor for almost 75 years, the company has had a hand in virtually every significant project in the province during that time. But Glen Peterson’s history is about more than business. It’s about his personal perseverance in the face of adversity, and how that helped define him and his company.

Having come of age during the Great Depression, Glen Peterson knew tough times. As a 13 year old, he witnessed the infamous riot that killed three striking coal miners in his hometown of Estevan, Sask. Then, as a 19 year old in 1937, he rode the rails with thousands of other unemployed Canadians in search of a job. He lived for a year on the streets in the Vancouver area, sleeping when he could at Salvation Army hostels. Twice, he was arrested for vagrancy.

In 1938, 20-year-old Glen returned to Estevan and created his own job by using a 10-year-old pickup truck to haul sand and gravel. That was the beginning of Glen Peterson Construction, a company that Glen ran for the next 64 years, until he passed away in March of 2002.

Although he eventually achieved considerable success as a supplier of aggregate and concrete, winning numerous industry awards, Glen never forgot his early years. He valued hard work and demanded it of himself and others, but he always tried to help by donating his time, money and efforts to benefit good causes and community well-being. He also took a lot of pride in creating opportunities for his family, his employees and his hometown.

Today, second- and third-generation Petersons carry on those traditions. Glen’s son Ken runs the concrete plant, grandson Sam runs the finish concrete and trucking divisions, and grandson Tyler oversees aggregate production, as well as a new water and sewer division.

“Since my dad started the company, we’ve become a leading material supplier with our quarry, a mobile crusher, ready-mix concrete, trucking and more,” said Ken. “I personally take a great deal of pride in what we’ve done and how we’ve done it.”

“We all worked with and for my grandpa and I think quite a bit of him rubbed off on us,” said Tyler. “We’re proud of what he did and still try to do things the way he would have — both on the job and in the community. We donate money, product or whatever is needed to help make this a better place. Being a good corporate citizen is important to us.”

“Both Tyler and I have worked here practically all our lives, starting at the bottom using a shovel because that’s how you learn,” Sam recalled. “Certainly, Grandpa started with little and accomplished so much. We’re now trying to keep things going and add to his legacy.”

High-profile jobs

One way they are adding to Glen’s legacy is by continuing to be involved in large, significant, construction projects in the region. One such current project is the Boundary Dam Power Station Clean Coal initiative.

The Boundary Dam job is a pilot project designed to show the feasability of capturing carbon dioxide. Rather than releasing it into the atmosphere, CO2 will be stored underground and/or be reused to stimulate natural gas wells. Funding includes grants from the federal and provincial governments. Glen Peterson Construction is supplying about 1,500 yards a day of aggregate and a total of 3,500 yards of concrete rock to the project.

“When there’s a big job like this in the area, we want to be a part of it,” said Ken. “Of course, we like it from a business standpoint, but it’s also a matter of pride and enjoyment. It’s fun to be involved in high-profile projects that everybody is aware of.”

Another recent addition to Glen Peterson’s legacy is the company’s decision to branch out from material supply to also offer underground utility and finish concrete services.

“It just seemed to make sense for us,” explained Tyler, who runs the underground pipe operations. “There’s a high demand for sewer and water work and it fits in with everything else we do — the aggregate for fill and the finish concrete for curb and sidewalks. It’s just a natural for our company.”

The biggest utility job the company has done is the recently completed Dominion Heights subdivision in Estevan. “We laid water, sewer and storm drain and did all the fire hydrants, plus curb and gutter,” noted Sam.

Glen Peterson Construction is also doing work for the City of Estevan, changing out water and sewer lines that run from the city mains to individual homes and businesses. “The city is doing about three to five blocks per year until all the houses are reconnected,” said Sam. “Those are big jobs and good jobs. We’ve won that contract for three years in a row and we’re happy to be doing the work.”

Good products + good dealer = winning combination

With its entry into sewer and water work, Glen Peterson Construction needed to upgrade its mobile equipment fleet. To do that, the company has turned largely to Komatsu machines from SMS Equipment. It now owns four Komatsu wheel loaders (two WA480s, a WA320 and WA250), a D85 dozer and a PC27 compact hydraulic excavator.

“We use the loaders in all aspects of the business, from the pits to the wash plant to the pipe work, and they’ve been great,” confirmed Sam. “Komatsu loaders are productive and reliable, and we really need that for the water and sewer work. With some of the old stuff we had, we would have done more fixing than running, and that’s not good enough. The oldest Komatsu loader we have is about three years old. It has 12,000 hours and has never been down except for routine maintenance. All the loaders are also really comfortable, which, as an operator, I appreciate.”

“The D85 is the first dozer we’ve ever owned,” noted Tyler. “We primarily got it to have a track machine to help with the sewer and water work, which we knew would be a muddy mess in the spring, and it was a lifesaver there. But we also used it in the pits last winter for stripping, as well as for any large earthmoving job. It’s been an outstanding machine.”

“I also really like the PC27,” added Sam. “One place we use it is to trench and lay weeping tile sock alongside our curb work. We used to use a backhoe for that job, but this is much better when it comes to working in tight spaces. It’s definitely a handy little thing.”

“We wanted top-quality equipment and knew Komatsu would fit the bill, but it was equally important that parts and service be readily available,” said Tyler. “We were confident SMS would be there for us at all times and that’s been the case. We count on our SMS Sales Rep, Darcy McKay, and everybody at SMS in Regina to respond quickly to our needs and they’ve certainly done that.”

“When we call SMS, they get here fast and make the repairs,” reported Sam. “Bottom line, it’s a good product that’s supported by a good dealer, and that’s a winning combination for us.”

Century club?

Glen Peterson Construction has grown since the brothers and their uncle took over four years ago. The company now employs about 40 people.

“We have really good employees,” acknowledged Sam. “Crushing Foreman Don Yuzak and Finishing Crew Foreman Wayne Bergen, among others, are important factors in our success. We wouldn’t be where we are without them, that’s for sure.”

“I think there’s enough work out there that we could add 10 to 20 more employees if we could find the right people,” added Tyler. “We’re definitely still growing. Our philosophy is to add a little all the time, whether that means doing more of what we’re doing or adding new services.”

With a fourth generation (Tyler’s 15-year-old son Kale works part-time at the company) already indicating an interest in joining the family business, it looks as though Glen Peterson Construction will be in good hands for the foreseeable future.

“We’ve got a good business, a good reputation and we’re in a great industry,” said Ken. “Concrete, aggregate, pipe — it’s all important. Society needs those things. I think that makes us all feel good about ourselves and what we do. As long as we never forget what got us here — hard work, honesty and a customer-first attitude — I think we’re in position to reach the century mark as a company. Given his Depression-era background, I’m sure that’s something that would have made my dad very proud.”