Customers in Action

Magney Construction


April 28, 2016

Komatsu excavators' “versatility is incredible”

Magney Construction

Most people don’t pay close attention to the water that fills their glasses or flushes their toilets. Fortunately for those who live in the Twin Cities area, Magney Construction does.

“I think water is something that people take for granted,” said President Mark Magney. “We don’t. It’s the focus of our company and something we take seriously.”

Since 1994, Chanhassen, Minnesota-based Magney Construction has carved out a niche for itself in the water and wastewater construction industry, in which Mark has plenty of experience. He began working on water and wastewater projects when he joined his father’s company after high school. He then went to work for a larger construction company in 1986 and continued in the industry for eight years. Finally, Mark decided to put his experience to the test and start his own business.

“I always knew that I eventually wanted to go out on my own,” said Mark. “The company I was with was invited to bid on a landfill groundwater clean-up job, but passed on it. I asked if I could bid it on my own. I won the job and started my own company.”

From there, Magney Construction continued to take on water-related projects, as well as construct commercial and industrial buildings. Magney has enjoyed considerable growth during the past 22 years – from its first year with one $700,000 project, to approximately $40 million in annual volume now. Eventually, the company narrowed its focus to specialize in water and wastewater.

“When we started, we tried to do all types of construction projects,” said Vice President Gary Disch, who joined the company 18 years ago and had worked with Mark at the larger company. “We ended up in water and wastewater because there was less competition due to the specialized nature of the work. The risks were greater, but so were the rewards. We liked that.”

Today, Gary estimates the company has 45 employees and works on about 16 projects a year, ranging in price from $1 million to $15 million. Magney Construction’s project list includes water treatment plants, lift stations, wastewater treatment plants, well houses and water booster stations. Its typical clients are municipalities, local and state government agencies, and more recently, private industry.

Both Mark and Gary agree, the company has been successful because of its employees.

“Our employees are willing to do everything from pouring concrete, to operating an excavator,” said Gary. “We look for highly motivated people who like challenges. To prevent our workers from getting bored by the same routine every day, we keep them very busy and constantly challenge them.”

“It’s a total team effort – everyone has an important role here,” said Mark. “We try to create a culture where people want to be here, and I think we’ve been successful at that. We have a very high retention rate, so I think that means we are on to something.”

Unique project

Magney Construction

Magney Construction’s concentration on water and wastewater projects has coincided nicely with the Metropolitan (Met) Council’s decision to consolidate wastewater systems and link them with larger, centralized treatment centers. The initiative began in the Twin Cities and has expanded outward to the suburbs.

“Right now, a lot of the smaller pump and treatment stations are being phased out, and the wastewater systems are being taken in by the Met Council to make things more efficient and meet environmental regulations,” said Gary. “As a result, we’ve had a lot of projects that require us to renovate existing systems to accommodate the change, or build new ones entirely.”

One of the more challenging projects associated with this consolidation is a current Magney Construction project in Chaska. The company is constructing the largest sunken lift station in the area. It will be used to pump wastewater to a main treatment plant about 10 miles away in Shakopee.

The two-year project began in the summer of 2015 and is located between the Minnesota River and a trout pond. It required a little bit of everything from Magney Construction, even the use of a pontoon boat to pour concrete.

“When we started, the site was a plot of grass at the city’s old wastewater treatment plant,” said Gary. “One of the major challenges was constructing a structure 70 feet in diameter to a design depth of 45 feet below grade. To complicate matters, the water table was about 10 feet below grade. We poured the walls of the structure in 12-foot lifts. After each lift, we clammed out the soils inside the structure to ‘sink’ the cylinder into place. We repeated this sequence four times to reach the desired depth. We could sink each section about a foot per day, however, some days we only achieved an inch.

“When we reached elevation, we placed a 1,500-cubic-yard tremie seal, which is basically a 10-foot-thick plug, in the bottom of the structure,” he added. “The tremie seal was placed under water by our crew, which was working from a pontoon boat within the structure. The water was pumped out after the concrete had reached design strength. Now we will construct dividing walls and install pumps and piping within the lift station.”

Planning, experience pay off

The Chaska lift station is just one of Magney Construction’s many jobs, but no two are the same.

“We don’t get a lot of cookie-cutter projects,” said Mark. “We have to be flexible in our bids and in our approach. I think that’s what has made us successful on jobs like these.”

Gary says the meticulous planning of Project Manager Peter Nordang has helped the company complete complicated jobs like the Chaska lift station.

That commitment to organization has done more than help the company win bids. Magney Construction recently completed a $15 million water treatment plant for the City of Apple Valley and won an award for the design and quality of the structure.

The company has also renovated a number of facilities, and those projects carry a greater amount of unknown variables, which makes Magney Construction’s experience and detailed approach even more valuable.

“The Wayzata lift station renovation that we recently completed is a project that changed in size and scope after we started,” said Gary. “We had to tie into buried 20-inch-diameter pipes that were installed in the early 1970s. The existing pipes were severely corroded, and we ended up replacing about 1,000 feet of pipe. This dramatically increased the scope of the project. We had no way of anticipating the additional work that would be required for the project, but we adapted on the fly, and we were able to take care of it.”

Komatsu equipment and RMS

Komatsu equipment from Road Machinery & Supplies Co. has been a staple for Magney Construction. The company has five Komatsu excavators ranging from a PC78MR to a PC360LC. It also has a WA250PZ wheel loader and rents machines as needed.

“We use our Komatsu excavators for more than just digging,” said Gary. “We use them to install underground pipe, pour concrete, set concrete forms and to install large pieces of treatment plant equipment. Their versatility is incredible.”

Magney Construction also calls on RMS and Sales Rep Phil Major for services such as Komatsu’s remote machine-monitoring system, KOMTRAX; and Komatsu CARE, which provides complimentary maintenance on Tier 4 machines for three years or 2,000 hours.

“RMS and Phil have been great to work with,” said Gary. “With Komatsu CARE, we have eliminated a lot of headaches and hassles. When we need service, we call, and RMS has a technician ready to come take care of it at a time that works for us. KOMTRAX has also been helpful in monitoring our machines.

“The thing I appreciate the most, though, is their customer service,” he added. “If I call Phil, he answers the phone. If I have a question, he gets me an answer within minutes. It’s comforting to know I don’t have to waste a whole day waiting to get an answer.”

What the future holds

Mark was confident that starting his own business was going to pay off, and he isn’t surprised by the growth of the company during the past 20 years. He anticipates it will continue at a rate that reflects the market and company’s projects.

“We had goals when we started; fortunately, we have met them,” he said. “I don’t expect to grow at 20 percent every year, but I think there is enough of a demand that we can keep expanding.”

One area where Magney Construction will look to increase its presence is in private projects. The company has worked with local Coca-Cola and Bird’s Eye Foods plants, and would like to do more of that work in the future.

“Getting more private work will help us be more diversified and offer a new revenue stream,” said Mark. “Water and wastewater are going to be our main focus, and population growth will keep that in demand. As long as we continue to provide quality services and keep good people working for us, I know we will be successful.”