“We like the Komatsu dozers because they are powerful and comfortable, and the visibility is outstanding”
Progressive Construction Co. seems a rather apt name for a company that’s grown continuously in services and size throughout the past two-and-a-half decades. During that time, founders and owners Todd Urbina and Ricky Cruz developed the Alexandria-based firm into one of central Louisiana’s most diversified and comprehensive contractors.
“We are always ready to challenge ourselves, sometimes doing things that others won’t consider,” said Urbina. “Through the years, that’s led to several rather interesting projects, including some of a very aesthetic nature. Those take a different pace and a strong attention to detail, and we really enjoy them.”
Case in point was the nearly seven-month undertaking to handle rehabilitation and reconstruction of the historic Front Street in Natchitoches. Completed in 2008, it was named as one of the top three road projects in the nation by Roads & Bridges Magazine for that year. Progressive Construction began the job with the removal of more than 1.2 million bricks.
“We reused as many as possible, which turned out to be around a third; those were cleaned and stored,” recalled Urbina. “That meant we needed about 400,000 new bricks. We wanted to match the originals as closely as possible, which are irregularly shaped and known as ‘clinkers.’ They were made using a coal-burning kiln. We found the only remaining source in the United States, and we had the new bricks made there, although it wasn’t required.”
While that process was underway, the firm reconstructed the road base and drainage, collaborating with archeologists and historical societies to preserve any artifacts that were unearthed during the process. Once the subgrade was ready, crews poured a new concrete roadway and replaced the bricks.
Another unique project saw the company build a temporary “campus” for Southern University at New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Within a month of being contacted by the Army Corps of Engineers, Progressive Construction completed construction of roads and installation of utilities.
“It was intense,” Urbina stated. “There was no infrastructure to work with and no food, so we had to bring trailers, generators and supplies, along with manpower and equipment. It involved long days; however, in the end it was very rewarding.”
Concrete from the start
Urbina and Cruz describe their firm as a heavy civil contractor that performs nearly every aspect of site preparation, either as a general contractor or a sub. Its services include clearing and grubbing, mass and fine grading, soil stabilization, demolition, erosion control, hydro seeding, concrete paving and asphalt surfacing, among others. In addition to earthmoving and concrete, it specializes in the installation of cable barrier and offers crushing services with two portable spreads.
“We crush on-site, unless we are working around Alexandria, and then we bring the materials to our yard,” said Urbina. “Our main products are recycled base and some oversize. Roughly half of what we make goes back into Progressive projects, and the rest is sold to other contractors, many of whom bring us concrete to process. Central Louisiana is a fairly small market, and we are the only company in the area that does crushing.”
Concrete has always had a place in Progressive Construction’s repertoire. Cruz and Urbina started with just the two of them installing driveways. Within a couple of years, they hired a few extra hands to branch out to parking lots and roadways. Today, they also take on structural concrete.
“We gained experience with another company before we teamed up and founded Progressive,” said Cruz. “I handled field work, and Todd was an inside guy who did estimating, bidding and sales. We decided to keep that same structure, and it’s worked well for almost 25 years.”
It helps that the two owners – who are also brothers-in-law (Ricky is married to Todd’s sister) – are always open to new opportunities. For instance, Progressive Construction is the only contractor in the state that offers high early strength concrete patching, which is capable of reaching 3,000 psi within four hours.
“It’s rapid set, quite volatile and we’re seeing it called for more and more,” said Urbina. “We have our own volumetric trucks and cover the entire state. As the one company in this endeavor, it keeps us hopping. Honestly, we would welcome some competition – and that’s not a joke. Recently, we finished a $7 million project on Interstate 20 in northern Louisiana that called for us to close a portion of a lane overnight. We generally shut it down about 9 p.m. and open it by 7 a.m. to minimize traffic disruption.”
Integrating intelligent Komatsu dozers
Recent projects include site work for a new sports complex in Natchitoches that involved moving nearly 300,000 yards of dirt to shape fields and create positive drainage. Soil stabilization was also part of its scope of work. Progressive Construction used several pieces of Komatsu equipment, including intelligent Machine Control D61PXi-24 and D39PXi-24 dozers, along with standard models.
“We like the Komatsu dozers because they are powerful and comfortable, and the visibility is outstanding – much better than the competitive brands we have tried,” emphasized Cruz. “The integrated technology in the intelligent machines make what, we believe, were already the best dozers in the market even better. We are saving valuable time by not having to put up or take down masts and cables, which increases production. Once the model is built, it’s a matter of plugging it in and letting the machine do the work. The accuracy is spot-on, and that has improved our efficiency.”
Progressive Construction uses Komatsu excavators for a variety of tasks, including mass earthmoving and clearing. It utilized a PC210LC-11 at the sports complex, and it also has a PC210LC-10, along with others that range from tight-tail-swing PC35MRs to a 60,000-pound-plus PC270. At its crushing yard in Alexandria, operators move crushed materials and load trucks with a WA270-7 wheel loader.
“Komatsu has been in our fleet from day one,” stated Urbina. “Our previous employer used Komatsu, so we saw the quality and reliability, and that has remained the case. We have several older machines ranging from six to almost 20 years old, which are still productive. That’s outstanding.
“We also developed a relationship with H&E and knew it would stand behind the equipment. H&E, and our Sales Rep Thomas Turner, never let us down,” he added. “That’s why, in addition to Komatsu, we have purchased, leased or rented additional lines of equipment, including Wirtgen curb machines (SP 15i) and stabilizers (WR 200), Hamm rollers, skid steers and more. They care about our well-being, and that’s important to us.”
Despite its growing size and capabilities, Progressive Construction maintains its roots. Crews still complete small driveways along with comprehensive full-site packages and other offerings.
“Our jobs range from a couple thousand dollars to the multi-millions,” said Cruz. “We started out humble, and we want to stay that way. Our ambitions are modest. We’re not quite sure what tomorrow will bring, but we are always open to new possibilities and further diversification.”
“Whatever we do, quality and excellent service will remain essential hallmarks,” added Urbina. “Growth is important; however, we want to do it in a controlled manner that ensures we are making progress and giving our customers the finished products they deserve.”