Customers in Action

Wanzek Construction

WEST FARGO, NORTH DAKOTA, COMPANY STRETCHES ITS ROOTS TO SERVE VARIOUS MARKETS, CUSTOMERS

August 24, 2015

Effective Komatsu equipment

Wanzek Construction

In 1971, Leo and Janet Wanzek founded Wanzek Construction out of their home. The fledgling company started by doing small projects in and around Fargo. In some sense, Wanzek Construction still maintains its hometown roots.

“We proudly provide service to some of the same customers that Leo and Janet worked with almost 45 years ago,” said Bryce Peterson, Director of Equipment Operations. “It’s great to be able to boast of growth and expansion that is grounded by the work ethics and business principals of a smaller company.”

Today, Wanzek Construction is on a whole other level compared to what the Wanzeks started four decades ago. Wanzek Construction provides heavy/industrial construction and specialty services to multiple industries through its Power, Renewable Energy, Oil & Gas, Heavy/Civil and Industrial Agriculture divisions. The company is headquartered in West Fargo, North Dakota, and has an office in Alexander, North Dakota. Wanzek Construction was acquired by and became a subsidiary of MasTec, Inc., one of the nation’s leading specialty contractors for utilities, energy and communications.

Wanzek Construction maintained its name, and now employs 600 to 1,000-plus people. The majority are split into several crews to cover the 60 to 70 projects the company has going at any one time. Its main territory runs from the Canadian border to the Mexican border in the middle of the country, although the company has completed projects in Puerto Rico, Alaska, Canada and other locations.

“Over the past 15 years, Wanzek has focused heavily on the wind energy market, and more recently oil and gas,” said Peterson. “Those industries are mainly centered in the heartland of the U.S., so that’s where the majority of our projects are done. We work with several of the largest energy producers in the nation. They trust us to deliver projects safely, on time and on budget.”

Comprehensive service

Wind projects often start with a blank canvas. Wanzek Construction builds roads to a site; digs and pours concrete for foundations; constructs pads; and erects wind towers using cranes. In addition, Wanzek offers follow-up services that include rebuilding roads, handling operations and maintenance while also replacing blades, gear boxes and other components if necessary.

“We’re set up for just about anything when it comes to wind construction, whether it’s a prototype tower, construction of an entire wind farm or maintenance,” said Peterson. “On the oil and gas side, our jobs primarily focus on piping and power plants. We do a lot of site, concrete and mechanical work, and have also put up some power-peaking stations. We offer service for expansion, shutdown and maintenance.”

The list of services Wanzek Construction’s other divisions perform is lengthy as well. For example, Heavy/Civil offers site preparation; pile driving; and construction of bridges, pumping stations, wastewater treatment plants, dams and flood-control levees. The Power and Industrial Agriculture divisions provide millwright work; steel erection; mechanical and process piping; and more.

“Customers like that our scope is comprehensive enough to take care of the majority, if not all, of their needs,” said Peterson. “They also appreciate that safety is our top priority. Our record is outstanding for a company of this size, and we’ve won numerous safety awards over the years.”

Dedicated employees

Equally as impressive is Wanzek’s track record of employee longevity. Many have been with the company a decade or more, including a fair number with 20 to 30 years of service. Wanzek’s key team leaders include Executive Vice President Rush Waite, Vice President Arnold Jelinek and CFO Kevin Gourde.

“There’s no substitute for experience; it plays a vital role in our success,” said Peterson. “No two projects are exactly the same. Fortunately, we have a strong team that has successfully completed a large number of projects under varying site and soil conditions and has the experience and knowledge to approach jobs in the most cost-effective manner for us and our customers.”

Effective equipment from General

Wanzek Construction

Cost-effectiveness, uptime and reliability are major considerations in Wanzek Construction’s equipment-buying, according to Peterson – who oversees the company’s fleet of about 250 machines. Wanzek relies heavily on Komatsu dozers and hydraulic excavators purchased from General Equipment & Supplies with the help of Sales Representative John Gromatka. Wanzek recently added an intelligent Machine Control D61PXi-23 dozer.

“We have aftermarket grade-control on some of our other machines, including a new D155 dozer, and that works well as the operator gets close to final grade,” said Peterson. “With the D61i, the dozer automatically does it from start to finish with the optimum blade load, so it takes away a lot of the guesswork. It saves time and money.”

The D61i and D155, along with the PC360LC and PC490LC hydraulic excavators Wanzek Construction owns, are covered by the Komatsu CARE program.

“General Equipment tracks them through KOMTRAX and alerts us when they are due for scheduled maintenance,” said Peterson. “It’s peace of mind to know that the services are done on time and at no charge to us by General’s technicians. It helps keep our O&O costs down. KOMTRAX is another great feature. We implement lean quality initiatives throughout the company. KOMTRAX allows me to see idle time, fuel usage, hours and other valuable information that helps me be proactive in addressing items that could lead to efficiency and potentially save us significant dollars.”

Wanzek Construction also turns to General Equipment for its Link-Belt cranes, which include the 275-ton ATC 3275 all-terrain, 110-ton TCC 1100 telescopic, 100-ton HTC 86100 and 90-ton HTC 8690 hydraulic truck models.

“We believe Link-Belt is at the forefront of crane technology, in every size and category. Link-Belt cranes have the ability to make any pick we have without an issue, including the larger cranes that are lifting large loads high in the air during wind turbine assembly,” said Peterson. “Link-Belt is great about ensuring customers have a solid understanding of the machines and how those machines work, with a comprehensive training program, and General Equipment provides great support.

“We’re very happy with our relationship with John and General Equipment,” Peterson added. “They take care of us from all standpoints, and that’s why we have continued to buy and rent other equipment, such as JCB forklifts, from General Equipment.”

Continuing the tradition

Wanzek Construction

Peterson said there has been a slow-down, or leveling-off, in some of the markets Wanzek Construction serves. He notes, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

“When you’re as busy as we have been in markets such as oil and gas, a chance to catch your breath and reassess where you are as a company can be beneficial,” Peterson emphasized. “Because that sector was so heavy, even a modest decrease in production means we’re still very busy. On the wind side, things have stayed fairly steady for quite some time. It looks like that will remain the case. Other markets project to be good too.”

Working in a variety of markets has been a boon to Wanzek Construction’s long-term success. “It allows us to adapt; if one market is down, we can ramp up somewhere else and just keep on going,” said Peterson. “We’re always on the lookout for other avenues to pursue. That’s helped Wanzek grow for forty-plus years, we want to continue that tradition.”