Bali Construction

UNDERGROUND CONTRACTOR ISN’T AFRAID TO FACE THE CHALLENGES OF WORKING IN LA METRO AREA

Jun 17, 2011

Komatsu equipment gets the job done

In the past few years, the Port of Los Angeles has made a significant effort to improve its facilities and the surrounding areas. Part of the work involves street improvements that include not only making the pavement smoother, but installing new underground utilities.

Because the projects are close to the ocean, the water table is high. With heavy traffic in the area, work space is at a premium. There’s also a glut of older utility lines spread out in every direction. None of those challenges hinders South El Monte-based Bali Construction.

“We do lots of deep, nasty, complicated and unusual projects,” said Bali Construction Vice President Grant Wood. “We’re involved in many projects that other contractors shy away from. It’s a specialty of ours.”

Case in point, a recent street project that saw Bali Construction crews install more than 3,300 feet each of storm sewer and reclaimed water lines as part of the Harry Bridges Boulevard improvements. Working in tight quarters, Bali personnel installed 24-inch concrete and ductile iron pipe at depths from seven to 12 feet, as well as catch basins and storm drains.

“We dealt with traffic and had some significant dewatering issues, but probably the biggest challenge was working around existing utility lines,” recalled Wood. “In a city this size there are lines everywhere, so it’s nearly impossible to just dig and lay pipe in a straight line. We have to bend, dive down, go over and around.”

Of course, not every Bali Construction project falls into the challenging category, but they all involve underground utility installation. That was the company’s focus when Mike Brooks founded it in 1987, and it’s never changed. Brooks is CEO, and Ted Polich is President of Bali Construction.

“We install sewer, storm, domestic and fire water and gas lines, primarily,” Wood noted. “There’s also a concrete side of the business, which constructs and pours specialty structures, such as manholes and lift stations. Often, that side of the business is working in conjunction with the pipe-installation side.”

Experienced crews have significant know-how

Wood estimates that Bali Construction does about 75 percent of its work as a subcontractor and 25 percent as a general contractor with public works, industrial, commercial and residential projects all in the mix. Recently, the company completed a nearly $2 million concrete structure job as a subcontractor on the rebuilding of the Tom Bradley terminal at LAX airport.

During the course of several months, Bali Construction crews poured in place about 50 structures designed as part of a system to capture and store runoff. Each structure had 18-inch-thick walls with substantial rebar for added strength.

“They were designed to withstand heavy loads because airplanes are running over them almost constantly,” explained Wood. “It was certainly, a challenging project, but we had every confidence that our guys would get the job done on time and budget, and they did. Through the years, Bali Construction has developed a reputation for quality, and that’s a direct result of having professional, skilled workers who know how best to approach a project. It’s helped us develop solid relationships with numerous repeat customers.”

Wood was confident because the vast majority of Bali Construction’s more than 100 employees bring a wealth of experience to each project. Bali Construction typically has about 15 jobs going at any one time, mainly in the Los Angeles metro area.

Komatsu excavators get the job done

In addition to a solid corps of employees, Bali Construction relies on dependable equipment, including two Komatsu PC128UU tight-tail-swing excavators. “Working in metro Los Angeles often puts us in confined spaces, such as a lane of traffic or an alleyway, and the PC128s are perfect machines for that,” explained Wood. “We’re able to get the job done without worrying about the counterweight hitting an obstruction, and the offset boom allows the operator to get up very close to the dig. We also equip the excavators with attachments, such as a compaction wheel, so their versatility is real plus, too.”

For digging in more open areas, Bali Construction added a PC270LC-8 and occasionally rents other Komatsu equipment. The company works with Road Machinery’s Perris branch for rentals and sales, most recently with General Manager Jim Harrison and Account Manager David Crone. “Road Machinery has always been very good to work with, and has been there to help us whenever we need them,” observed Wood.

Remaining in demand

Despite a down economy the past few years, Wood said Bali Construction has stayed busy. “There’s actually a lot of work out there,” said Wood. “The downturn has made the market more competitive, and it will probably stay that way for quite a while. In order to stand out, we have to ensure we can get the job done, whether it’s a prime contract or as subcontractor. We’re confident that because we’re focused on delivering quality work — and our capability to fill the niche of completing the tough jobs — we’ll continue to be able to do that, and remain in demand as a subcontractor.”