Brannan Sand and Gravel


Oct 26, 2010

Komatsu equipment and support they can count on

Brannan Sand and Gravel does indeed sell sand and gravel, but the company’s name is more a nod to its storied past than a precise description of what it does today. Today, the company is probably best known for being one of Denver’s largest and most respected asphalt paving contractors.

Founded in 1906 by J.W. Brannan, Brannan Sand and Gravel was solely an aggregate producer and supplier until 1943. That’s when it began offering asphalt paving services. Brannan family members continued leading the company until 1994, when they sold it to Curt Marvel. Under his leadership, the company further diversified with the acquisition of a concrete company in 1995 and a pipe/utility company in 2003. Today, the Brannan Companies consist of Brannan Sand and Gravel, Brannan Ready Mix (concrete) and Brannan Construction (pipeline/ utility/tunnel boring).

“Asphalt production and paving remain our primary business,” noted Equipment and Shop Division Manager Chuck Irsik. “We have three asphalt plants and six asphalt paving crews. Jobs range from pothole repair up to new and rehab construction of major highways — and everything in between.

“The construction division (which works throughout Colorado and the Rocky Mountain region) and the concrete division (with 40 mixer trucks) have brought a lot of stability,” he added. “If one market is down, chances are, at least one of the others will be up.”

Brannan Companies have been involved with almost all of the major Denver roadways and numerous other landmark projects. Among the company’s many award-winning road jobs are I-25 (23rd Avenue to 48th Avenue); Colorado Boulevard (Mexico Street to Alameda Street); and C-470 (Ken Caryl Boulevard to Wadsworth Boulevard). Brannan was also involved with the construction of all of Denver’s major sports complexes, including Coors Field, Invesco Field at Mile High, the Pepsi Center and Rapids Stadium. It has also had a hand in commercial projects, such as The Shops at Walnut Creek in Westminster and Park Meadows Shopping Center in Lone Tree (near Centennial).

“Whether it’s supplying material, paving a road or parking area, or delivering concrete, we definitely like to be a part of high-profile jobs in the Denver area,” said Irsik. “Sometimes we’re the general contractor, sometimes we’re a sub — it doesn’t matter. Our work is a point of pride for us and quality is what we hang our hat on. We’re pleased that when there’s a big job, we are usually invited to participate, whether it’s a local company or somebody from out-of-town. Based on our track record, we have a reputation as a company that does quality work at a fair price, and we intend to keep that reputation for as long as we’re in business.”

Material pits

To supply its asphalt plants, paving crews and concrete operations, which consist of two stationary ready-mix plants and one portable facility, Brannan has two pits — a primary aggregate pit and a recycle pit. “Our goal is to produce a steady supply of clean, high-quality aggregate for our asphalt and ready-mix plants,” said Aggregate Production Supervisor Jim Thompson. “We do sell some material to outside firms and state or local government agencies, but the vast majority of the material we produce is for use in-house by the Brannan Companies.” Depending on time of year and demand, Brannan’s primary pit in Henderson produces about 70,000 tons of material monthly.

Equipment and support they can count on

Brannan relies heavily on Komatsu machines from Power Motive Corporation to keep its pits, plants and construction arm operating smoothly, efficiently and productively.

At work at the main quarry are a Komatsu PC400, a WA480 wheel loader and two HM350 articulated dump trucks. The company uses Komatsu WA320 wheel loaders to feed the concrete plants; a Komatsu WA500 wheel loader moves material in pit 29; and several Komatsu hydraulic excavators and skid steer loaders work primarily with the construction division.

“We started using Komatsu machines eight or nine years ago,” said Irsik. “We’d been running another brand prior to that, but when we were in the market for a new wheel loader around 2001, we thought we should probably do some demos and compare prices. Komatsu performed well in the demo and was priced fairly so we decided to give it a try. Komatsu machines have been a mainstay for us ever since. They are productive, reliable units that last a long time. You can’t ask for more than that.”

“All of our Komatsu pieces in the pits have performed well, including those that have a lot of hours on them,” added Thompson. “What I’m looking for is reliability and fuel efficiency — machines I can count on every day and that won’t break me paying for diesel fuel — and that’s what I get from our Komatsu machines. Our newest units are the HM350 (35-ton) articulated haul trucks. They’ve been really good machines, and fuel efficiency has been outstanding.”

“Dealer support is also very important to us and we’ve been pleased with Power Motive and our salesman Tim Hoffman,” added Irsik. “Tim goes out of his way to know my parts people and superintendents and I really like that. It’s not all about me, it’s about keeping those guys happy — and Tim and Power Motive do that. I have about 30 guys in the shop here and we do our best to do our own services and repairs, but we also count on Power Motive for big jobs and warranty work. They do a great job whenever we call on them.”

Steady growth

Brannan has grown remarkably through the years, from a small, family-owned company to a highly diversified firm that now employs about 400 people.

“I’ve been here 25 years,” said Irsik. “When I came, there was no concrete or construction group and we were producing about 350,000 to 400,000 tons of asphalt per year. Now, we’re producing more than a million tons of asphalt annually, plus we have the ready-mix and pipeline divisions. Clearly, we’ve grown considerably.”

He attributes that growth to the quality work that the company does day-in and day-out. “That’s our bread and butter and it’s why we’re in demand. We do it right the first time. From the raw products to the quality of the mix to the smoothness of the finished product, we expect the best from ourselves. We compare our products, for example, the smoothness of our roads, to our competition, and we think we compare very favorably. You don’t see grinding (smoothing out high spots) on jobs that we’ve completed.”

Irsik says a few years back, a large percentage of Brannan’s work was private. “We did mostly subdivisions, hospitals, commercial buildings and the like. We always did some public work such as roads and airports, but mostly we worked for developers and builders. Now that’s reversed. In fact, almost all of our work right now is public. We hope that starts to even out in the months and years to come.”

As for the future, continued growth and diversification remain a strong possibility.

“We never know what’s down the road,” observed Irsik. “I think that the company will continue to look for opportunities to expand and will do so if and when it makes economic sense. Regardless, our goal will be to deliver quality projects on time and on budget, and always put our customers first. As long as we continue to do that, we think we’ll be in a good position to remain successful.”