Abhe & Svoboda Inc.

Sometimes, the final touch that can help distinguish a structure is the last coat of paint. That addition of color can make it far more memorable, or even help restore an aged structure to its original glory. And that is what Abhe & Svoboda Inc. strives to do in its work.

Based in Prior Lake, Minn., the company is a leader in the coatings industry with a project portfolio that includes towers, bridges and dams. “We also do structural renovations, as far as structural steel and concrete repairs,” Project Engineer Ryan Glen says.

Abhe & Svoboda started operations 42 years ago and today also has offices in Kapolei, Hawaii; Alpine, Calif.; Portland, Conn.; and Gaines, Mich. The company’s portfolio includes the Indianapolis Motor Speedway; Pearl Harbor; San Diego International Airport, the Black Canyon Dam at Payette River, Idaho; Yaquina Bay Bridge in Newport, Ore.;  and Aloha Stadium in Aiea, Hawaii.

The company also has worked in Cuba, Australia, Spain and Guam. “We will essentially work anywhere,” Glen says. “We have had the opportunity to bid and work on projects in almost every state.”

Although Abhe & Svoboda primarily serves an industrial customer base, the company is not limited to only those clients in its work. Instead, “We [also] work for various federal governmental agencies,” Glen explains. “We do a lot of work [for the] Army Corps of Engineers, the Bureau of Reclamation [and] the Department of the Navy.”

Loyal Employees

A strong factor in the company’s success is its team of experienced workers, Glen says. “We’ve had a lot of field personnel that have been with us for a long time,” he says. “[They like to] travel with us and like working with us.”

This includes Glen himself, who has been with Abhe & Svoboda for 15 years. “I like working with the people,” he says, adding that he enjoys the fact that the work at the company is not repetitious.

“All of our projects are similar but not the same,” he says. “Every project is unique in its own way. There are special designs that have to be done for [a project] to make it work correctly.”

For example, on its Tainter Gate Repair project at the Whitney Lake Dam in Texas, the company came up with an access system on the dam so all its equipment was stationary on the shore, eliminating the need to stage equipment from barges.

Protecting Landmarks

Abhe & Svoboda’s current projects include work worth more than $41 million on the Newport/Pell Bridge for the Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority. The cable-suspended bridge crosses Narragansett Bay and connects Jamestown to Newport, R.I.

“We’re doing steel repairs and protective coatings on the suspended spans of the bridge,” Glen explains. “There are two side spans that are roughly 770 feet long and the main span is 1,600 feet long.”

The company also is performing abrasive blasting, painting structural steel and suspension cables work. “We’re about 25 percent complete on it right now,” Glen says. Abhe & Svoboda plans to be finished with the project by October 2012.

It also is rehabilitating 17 dam gates at the Whitney Lake Dam in Clifton, Texas, for the Fort Worth district of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. “We are completing abrasive blasting and recoating them,” he describes.

In a contract worth more than $14.5 million, the company also is completing structural steel repairs on the dam. “We’re probably about 90 percent complete,” Glen says, noting that the company expects to finish work on the project by this September, which is two months ahead of schedule.

One of the keys to finishing the project early, Glen notes, was finding ways to access the dam gates without staging any equipment on the water. Instead, “All of our equipment is staged on land,” he says.

“We used special scaffolding systems that we’ve utilized on our bridge projects,” he continues. “We were able to work on multiple gates at a time in order to get the project done in a timely manner.”

According to Glen, a key factor to the success of the company’s projects is its vendors. In addition, because it uses many vendors repeatedly, Abhe & Svoboda knows exactly what it needs from them to accomplish a project and make it successful, he says.

Abhe & Svoboda’s key vendors include Kleen Blast.

Room For Expansion

Abhe & Svoboda plans to grow in select markets. “We want to be able to expand various markets if possible,” Glen says. “[But] we’re very happy with the markets we’re currently in.

“There’s always room for expansion if the economy allows it,” he asserts. “There are projects available to [us] in various areas, with painting in regards to surface prep and steel renovations. We can tackle a variety of [jobs].”

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