Komatsu equipment meets varied jobsite needs
Owner Dale Forrest admits to having no
master plan for growth when he founded
Paragon Contractors in 2005. But he hasn’t been
shy about taking risks to build the business into
one that does more than just the site work that
was Paragon’s focus at its inception.
“Much of our expansion has been out of
necessity and by recognizing voids in the
marketplace we could fill,” said Forrest. “In
the past two years, we’ve added heavy paving,
an asphalt plant and our own trucking fleet.
We’ve become a more well-rounded company
that’s able to self perform nearly every aspect
of a project.”
With the addition of heavy paving and other
services, Tulsa-based Paragon Contractors
does an increasingly larger percentage of its
projects in the hard-bid governmental sectors.
Forrest estimates the company does about
an 80 percent to 20 percent split between
governmental and private work.
“That’s a huge turnaround in our focus over
a five-year period,” noted Forrest. “When I
started Paragon, we were almost exclusively
a private, commercial, site-construction
company with an emphasis on basic site work.
We still perform those services, but on a much
larger scale and often as part of a total package
that’s done as a general contractor. We will
subcontract out portions of our work, but it’s
our preference — and often that of our clients
— to have us handle the entire scope of work.”
During the past five years, Paragon
Contractors has built an impressive resume
that now includes excavation, demolition,
grading, erosion control, seeding and sodding;
site utilities that include storm, sanitary, water
line and fire line; concrete paving, including
curb and gutter; and asphalt paving.
“Our specialty is fast-tracked, horizontal
construction,” explained Forrest. “We’ve been
able to deliver on that because we put the
resources in place to ensure that we not only do a
quality job, but we do it on time and on budget.
I have to credit much of the success to our
employees. With the additional services, we now
have a staff of about 250, and the vast majority of
them brought plenty of experience to the table,
which has paid off in a number of ways.”
Management includes Operations Manager
Tyler Rogers, CFO Robert Flannery, Contract
Administrator Polly Whitman, General
Superintendents Keith Berry and Mike
Owens and Equipment Manager Brian Burris.
“Paragon is fortunate to have several highly
qualified superintendents who can handle a
wide variety of job applications,” said Forrest.
Paragon’s field personnel is split into
multiple groups, with the majority working
on one of a dozen site-grading crews. The
company also has a half-dozen concrete and
utility crews each and an asphalt paving crew.
They’ve helped Paragon Contractors complete
a number of high-profile projects in Tulsa
and Oklahoma City, as well as northeastern
Oklahoma and part of western Arkansas.
Teaming up with sister companies
In a few instances, Paragon has teamed up
with its sister companies, United Golf LLC
and Northeastern Irrigation & Landscape Inc.
Forrest founded Northeastern Irrigation and
Landscape about 25 years ago and United Golf
about 12 years later. A case in point was the
recently completed renovation of OneOK Field
baseball stadium, home to the Tulsa Drillers
Paragon started the renovation by excavating
the existing field 13 feet below street level,
hauling out more than 125,000 cubic yards of
dirt. Paragon and United Golf crews teamed up
to install a drainage system, while Northeastern
Irrigation & Landscape did irrigation and
landscape work. Paragon and United backfilled
and built the playing surface, and Paragon
installed city utilities and paved for new curb and
gutter, sidewalks and streets around the ballpark.
“Having the three companies is a real strength
because we can share resources,” said Forrest.
“Honestly, it’s rare that all three companies work
on the same project. More often it’s one of the
sister companies working with Paragon.”
A large portion of Paragon’s recent work has
been right in its own backyard, including work
on several hard-bid projects for the city of Tulsa
under its $450 million bond issue a couple of
years ago to fix the city’s aging infrastructure.
Paragon has also worked on sections of the
Mingo Trail along Highway 169 in the city.
Other high-profile work includes completion
of the Fred Creek Phase II project at Oral
Roberts University, where Paragon crews
enlarged the creek and built a dam, as well
as retaining walls. The company moved
30,000 yards of dirt in the process, including
excavation for footings.
“It sounds like a straightforward job, but
there were several challenges to it,” noted
Forrest. “We’ve had a lot of rain in Oklahoma in
the past few years, and working in a creek was
obviously not ideal with those conditions. The
footings would fill up with water, so we packed
the excavations with demolition concrete, then
poured the footings on top. It worked well.”
Doing such challenging projects is one of
Paragon Contractors’ specialties. The company
recently completed a five-and-a-half-mile,
48-inch sanitary sewer installation for the city
of Owasso that was at times 24 to 28 feet deep.
The $4.5 million 76th Street Interceptor work
took 10 months, and much of the work was in
solid rock. Paragon subcontracted drilling and
blasting, then dug the trenches to lay the line.
Komatsu equipment is top choice
Even with drilling and blasting, Paragon had
to hammer some of the material. It equipped
a Komatsu PC300LC excavator with an NPK
hammer to handle the task. Much of the
digging was done with a Komatsu PC400LC-7
excavator, one of many the company owns or
has on rent from Kirby-Smith.
“We’ve found that Komatsu excavators not
only have the strength to handle the deeper digs
and run attachments such as the hammer, but
are faster than competitive brands we’ve tried,”
said Forrest. “That’s been the case with every
one we’ve tried, from the PC78 up to the PC400.
One size we really like is the PC88, which we
have several of, because they can work in open
areas or confined spaces equally well. Komatsu
is our operators’ excavator of choice.”
Paragon Contractors also chooses Komatsu
dozers and wheel loaders, including an
award-winning D51EX-22 dozer with the
slant-nose design. Equipped with a Topcon
GPS system, Paragon used the D51 for much
of the grade work on OneOK Field. “The D51
is a very versatile machine,” Forrest pointed
out. “It’s the right size for many applications,
including mass and final grading. It’s the most
requested machine by our superintendents.”
To house and service its equipment, Paragon
Contractors is building a new shop facility next
to its asphalt plant and just around the corner
from Kirby-Smith’s Tulsa branch. “We’ve built
a great relationship with Kirby-Smith and our
Territory Manager Dan Rutz,” said Forrest.
“We service our machinery with parts and
support from Kirby-Smith as needed. Anytime
we need something, I know I can call Dan or
anyone else there and get a quick response.”
Putting plans in place
While he had no plans for Paragon
Contractors to grow so big so quickly, Forrest
does have plans for where the company is
headed in the near future. Controlled growth
and efficiency head the list.
“We’re not trying to be the biggest company
on the block, but one that’s competitive
and can get the job done to our customers’
satisfaction and schedule. We have the
resources and personnel in place that make
that a strength of Paragon’s. Our current focus
is continuing to build our efficiency. We’ve
grown very quickly in the past five years to
meet customer demands and set ourselves
up for success in this market. Now that
we’ve done that, it’s time to assess and look
at long-term plans. We’re comfortable with
where we’re at and where we’re going.”