Customers in Action

Borderland Construction


February 13, 2017

“The PC490 has good power”

Borderland Construction

Morgan North spent many years on the road working for a construction firm. He had a young family then and wanted to spend more time at home.

“I decided to start my own company, but I didn’t have a lot of contacts, so that business failed,” recalled Morgan, Owner and CEO of Borderland Construction Company Inc. “I went to work for another company, which also went out of business. Then I started Borderland, but this time I had contacts I could call on and a group of fellow employees who were willing to join me.”

That was 1982, and it marked the start of Borderland Construction. With a list of potential customers and approximately 25 experienced people on board, the business took off quickly. Today, the firm employs nearly 300 people, including original employee Steve Shepherd, who is President of the Tucson-based company. Morgan’s son, Andy, is Vice President.

“We hit the ground running with four or five jobs right off the bat,” recalled Steve. “Our customers gained confidence in our ability to meet their schedules and budgets, and we garnered a long list of repeat business. Early on, most of our projects involved subdivision site work, but we soon diversified into public and commercial contracts.”

Diverse projects, customers

While Borderland Construction is one of the largest underground contractors in Arizona, it also performs general grading and paving. Its services include land clearing, mass excavation, concrete curb and flatwork, as well as bridge construction. Borderland’s utility work involves installation of water and wastewater systems, storm drains and underground power. The company typically operates in a 100-mile radius of Tucson and usually has between 10 and 15 projects in the works at a time.

“Our diversity means we can provide turnkey site packages as well as break-out services, such as strictly excavation or utility jobs,” explained Andy. “There is diversity in our customer list, too. We work with everyone from developers to municipalities to international corporations serving residential, commercial, governmental and industrial markets.”

Some of Borderland’s biggest projects fall into the underground category. It recently started pre-construction services for a $40 million sewer-line job for Pima County that involves installation of 13 miles of 24- to 30-inch pipe at depths of up to 35 feet.

“Throughout the years we’ve completed numerous large, complex underground installs,” said Andy. “That includes pipe as well as 10- to 12-foot wide precast box culverts at depths of greater than 30 feet. Few companies are willing to do those jobs, but we thrive on them. One area where we shine is finding ways to value-engineer such projects to provide cost savings without sacrificing safety or quality.”

Best fit, versatile equipment

Borderland Construction

Borderland Construction often accomplishes deep utility digs with its 651-horsepower Komatsu PC1250 excavator, which the company uses for mass excavation. Borderland employs PC490LC-10 excavators for shallower trenches. The company’s work often involves pavement removal or rock excavation, and it sometimes crushes that material on-site with a Komatsu BR380JG mobile crusher.

“We purchased the PC490s approximately a year ago to replace some aging pieces,” recalled Morgan. “They were equivalent in size to what we had, but offered better performance and greater efficiency. After shopping around, we chose the Komatsu PC490s because they were the best fit and the right price. Each runs several different sized buckets, so we get versatility.

“The PC1250 is probably the largest excavator in this area,” he added. “It’s a workhorse and ensures that we can complete the tough, challenging tasks, including lifting heavy pipe and structures. The crusher has been a really nice piece for us, helping us produce quality products that can be reused on the jobsite.”

Borderland Construction purchased its Komatsu equipment from Road Machinery, LLC with the help of Territory Manager Dennis Peterson. “Road Machinery covers the scheduled service on the PC490s under Komatsu CARE, which is a great program,” said Morgan. “We typically do a lot of our own maintenance, so Komatsu CARE is a time- and cost-saver because our mechanics can concentrate on our older machines. This program fits right in with the good service we consistently receive from Dennis and Road Machinery. They have always been there if we need something.”

Always a market leader

While Morgan remains active in Borderland Construction, Andy and Steve largely oversee the day-to-day operations. They say the company’s future is highly dependent on Tucson’s economy. During the Great Recession a few years ago, times were tough, and subdivision work dried up for the most part. Today, business is better, but has not completely rebounded to where it was before the downturn.

“We became a lot leaner and most of our jobs fell into the public sector, but the company survived,” noted Steve. “Our work is once again nearly an even split between public and private. Nothing is certain for the future, except what we can control and that’s providing quality work. No matter what, we will continue to be a leader in the markets we serve.”