Blount Contracting Inc.

Founded in 2000 by President Jerry Blount, Mesa, Ariz.-based Blount Contracting Inc. quickly has become a leading provider of quality earthwork, paving and asphalt maintenance services in Arizona. Blount brought several years of experience to his new company and embarked on a mission to improve the way the construction industry in Arizona operated, explains his son, Vice President Randy Blount.

Blount Contracting started out with grading, paving, earthwork and asphalt. About two years ago, the company added an asphalt maintenance focus to help service the product it installs. “As the company matured, we’ve been able to have cash flow and capital to increase project size,” Blount remarks. Today, Blount Contracting is neither too big to complete a small project or too small to complete a big project, he says.

Blount Contracting excels on a number of project types, including power plants, wastewater treatment plants, municipal facilities, K-12 schools, colleges and college housing projects. It bids with major area general contractors and construction managers, and enjoys working with other trades on a project. “From all the feedback we get, we have a good relationship with the general contractors we work with,” Blount says. “We are willing to communicate and resolve issues in a professional manner.”

The company also enjoys strong relationships with its suppliers. “We are able to make sacrifices for each other when needing to accomplish a project,” he says. “We get it done on time and we get it done right to keep our clients happy, even if it’s not always convenient to take a phone call at 6 p.m. or get to a job the next day.”

Internal Strength

With the economy in decline in recent years, Blount Contracting has seen tighter margins, but it still has been able to grow its revenue based on its reputation, Blount says. Now, the company is starting to see a slight improvement in the economy, and its work load and revenue continue to increase. However, since margins are still small, Blount Contracting sees this as an opportunity to improve its operations. 

The company has strengthened its internal communications to clarify everyone’s scope on the project and perform more efficiently. “We’re working within our company to increase communication and discuss better ways to work with vendors and general contractors,” Blount says. “There’s a short list of things that can distinguish a company in this industry. I believe that communication skills and fostering relationships of trust with your customers top that list.

“Ultimately the end-product is out there,” he continues. “Regardless of who installs or constructs it, the client expects the same general end-product. The only way we can differentiate ourselves is to make the delivery of the project more enjoyable by being fair, honest and open about the issues that arise.

“There are always issues on a project, always struggles, but how we overcome them is what I think sets us apart.”

Blount Contracting recently implemented a task hazard analysis program to increase safety awareness. “This allows personnel at every level of the company to help identify the hazards associated with that day’s tasks and what can be done to minimize those hazards,” Blount explains. “We found that each individual’s perspective of the hazard can be slightly different. By discussing those perspectives, we can better mitigate those hazards and increase safety.” 

Although the company strives to operate efficiently and professionally, it still maintains the feel of a family owned and operated business. There are no layers of bureaucracy, and everyone is welcome to voice their concerns and opinions without worrying about how it will affect their advancement within the company. This allows for openness, honesty and a general congenial atmosphere not always found in office environments. 

“We try to have a good time even though life and work can be quite stressful,” Blount says.

Complex Projects

Currently, Blount Contracting is working on the 17-megawatt Cotton Center Solar Station in Gila Bend, Ariz., with general contractor McCarthy Construction. “The project is one that we’ve been involved with since the design phase to help create a cost-effective civil design and to better meet a schedule that was very tight,” Blount says. Construction on the project began in January 2011 and was slated to be completed by the end of October. The plant will commence operations following a start-up and testing phase.

Near the completion of the rough grade phase, McCarthy approached Blount Contracting to inform the company that the foundation design needed to be modified to suit the actual soil conditions encountered, which were different from what was presented in the initial analysis. “The modification changed the foundation from a driven pile system to a concrete pier system,” Blount says. “With this modification, it was necessary to accelerate the schedule in order to deliver the project to the owner on time. This required the drilling of 12,196 caissons in about 40 working days.”

Since 2010, Blount Contracting has been working on the SRP Navajo Generation Station, a traditional coal-fired plant in Page, Ariz. The company has completed several projects at the station, including the complicated 60-2 ponds project where it removed sandstone and blended in fly ash to create a suitable material for the construction of new storage ponds at the plant. This required two shifts to get it processed and build the ponds in time for the liner to be placed by another subcontractor.

“The liner can’t be placed once the temperature gets below a certain number of degrees, so there were some real time constraints to getting the ponds done on time,” Blount explains. “We placed soil cement on all of the slopes to mitigate erosion and increase the life of the ponds. The area of all the ponds was a total of 23.5 acres, but the most challenging aspect was the accelerated schedule.”

Blount Contracting continues to work on additional projects at the SRP Navajo Generation Station project site. Blount says he expects the company to be completely done with its current work at the site by summer 2012.

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