Clarkson Construction Co.

In the last 130 years, it is astronomical how much the world has changed. Companies have reached the highest levels of success and completely disappeared, and the amount of technology that has been invented and reinvented has transformed every industry and marketplace. But one thing that has remained for the last 130 years is Clarkson Construction Co. The Kansas City, Mo., company has learned to adapt to the market and new needs of the industry, creating continuous growth and success.

“It’s incredible that we’re that old,” Don Clarkson says. “I try to keep it in perspective by remembering the company was over 90 years old when I was born.”

What could be the most phenomenal fact to Clarkson Construction’s history is that it has remained a family business – currently in its sixth generation. “Family businesses are tough to pass down to one generation, much less five,” Clarkson states. “Every past generation made sure the company remained successful through depressions, wars, bad economies, whatever was thrown at them.”

“There have been a lot of smart and dedicated people along the way,” Clarkson points out. “It’s a credit to the people that have been steering the ship and the people that surrounded them. There’s no other way without those two things.

“We have some of the best people in our industry working for our company,” he continues. “I think that gives owners a sense of trust that we’ll do what we say we’ll do.”

Rebuilding Connections

G.G. (George) Clarkson founded Clarkson Construction as a grading contractor, and the company is now a leader in infrastructure construction. It performs site grading, earth and rock excavation, underground utilities, concrete paving, bridge construction and earthen dams.

“We value greatly the owners that we work for, be it state DOTs or those on private projects,” Clarkson says. “To keep those relationships strong, we have to perform better than what the owner expects. That’s usually by completing projects early or finding ways to save the owner money.” 

Currently, Clarkson Construction is at work on one of the largest projects in the company’s long history. The kcICON project involves the reconstruction/rehabilitation of 4 miles of Interstate 29/35 in Missouri from North Kansas City south to downtown Kansas City. Clarkson Construction is operating as the sponsor in a joint venture with Massman Construction Co. and Kiewit Construction, known collectively as Paseo Corridor Con­structors.

The owner for the project is the Missouri DOT (MoDOT). The $232 million project includes improving outdated interchanges and the construction of the new the Christopher S. Bond Bridge over the Missouri River to replace the existing Paseo Bridge. MoDOT estimates that 102,000 vehicles travel this stretch daily. 

The project began April 18, 2008 and is scheduled for completion Oct. 31, 2011. The new bridge will be a two-span, cable-stayed structure with a 550-foot front span and a back span of 451 feet. Clarkson Construction’s primary role is two miles of highway building on either side of the bridge. The I-29/35 corridor is being widened from two lanes in each direction to three. 

Extensive Service

Unique to Clarkson Construction is its affiliation with Superior Bowen Asphalt. A partnership with Bowen Construction Co., Superior Bowen performs asphalt paving for city streets, highways and parking lots and operates eight asphalt plants in the metro Kansas City area.

Clarkson comments that Clarkson Construction is fortunate to have the Superior Bowen connection. “It’s definitely an advantage for us to be affiliated with such a good company,” Clarkson states. “We rely on them heavily for the asphalt paving on our projects and they always come through.  It also gives us another facet of construction we can bring to the table when we talk to private owners.”

Superior Bowen works on commercial, residential, highway, municipal and aviation projects. It performs grading, cold milling, asphalt paving and quality control services, as well as a asphalt sales.

The company says mass grading and excavation are not its primary business, but it does have several grading crews that specialize in preparing finish grade for pavement. “This assures owner’s that the specified pavement thicknesses are being obtained and the pavement will perform as designed,” it says.

Superior Bowen has a large fleet of milling equipment that it says can meet the challenges of time, cost or specifications on any project. It recycles nearly 100 percent of the asphalt it removes through the milling process, which makes its job less costly for customers and the environment, it notes. 

“Whether your paving needs are for residential streets, commercial developments or interstate highways, Superior Bowen Asphalt has the experience and resources necessary to complete your project,” the company says.

It points out that it employs highly skilled crews and uses the newest technology in paving equipment. This leads to quality work for project owners that is completed on time and at a competitive price.

Superior Bowen ensures that it utilizes state-of-the-art testing equipment and facilities, and continually performs quality control testing on its asphalt mixtures. “You can be assured that the material produced for your project will meet the required specifications, whether a commercial, city, county, or state asphalt mixtures is required,” the company says.

Superior Bowen has eight asphalt plants that are located throughout the Kansas City metropolitan area with five in Kansas City at Hickman Mills, the KCI plant, Manchester Trafficway, Stamper Quarry and 38th Street. It has one at Cedar Creek in Olathe, Kan., and two in Lee’s Summit, Mo.

The company says it conducts its operations with the highest regard for the safety of the public and all employees. “We recognize that safety is everyone’s responsibility,” Superior Bowen states.

“Safe working conditions, removing hazards from the site, ongoing training and continuous review of our practices are some of the ways that we are working to implement our goal,” it adds.

In addition to Superior Bowen, Clarkson has affiliations with Everett Quarries Co. Inc., Johnson County Aggregates, Osage National Residential Holdings LLC and Micro-Lite LLC.

“Beneath the concrete or asphalt in every mile of highway lies tons of supportive base rock and riprap,” Clarkson Construction says. “Everett maintains five aggregate operations that annually produce between 700,000 and 800,000 tons of base rock, riprap and asphalt rock. The company also operates mobile crushing plants.”

Johnson County Aggregates provides aggregate materials for highways, streets, commercial building and home site developments. The company is a partnership between Clarkson Construction and Ash Grove Cement Co.

Clarkson Construction and Everett Holdings are creating community infrastructure and premier home sites around the Osage National Golf Resort as Osage National Residential Holdings. Single-family homes and “get-away villas” are being built in what Clarkson Construction describes as a verdant river valley with giant limestone bluffs. Osage National is the Ozarks' only Arnold Palmer Signature Golf Course, the company notes. 

Micro-Lite is a wholly owned subsidiary of Clarkson Construction. It is North America's largest miner/processor of lamproite, a major mineral ingredient for animal feed. Micro-Lite markets lamproite under Magnesium Mica.

Project Versatility

Being versatile in the industry is an advantage for Clarkson Construction that allows it to take on challenging projects. “Most companies don’t bid on complex highway projects that have short time frames,” Clarkson says. “The fact that we can self perform all of the bigger aspects of those jobs makes it less painful for us to take on the risk.”

Clarkson Construction performs site grading for commercial, residential and industrial markets, and says that with its history, it has performed site grading for many of the developments that have formed the Kansas City region. 

For utility work, the company installs underground infrastructure for stormwater management such as pipe and box culverts on highway, commercial and residential projects. It also installs sanitary sewers and waterlines. Clarkson Construction has had its hand in several open channel projects, as well, aiding the building of dams, levees, lakes, lochs and channels. 

Clarkson Construction says its extensive fleet of equipment can move thousands of cubic yards of dirt per day on different projects simultaneously. It also employs blasting experts for removing and transporting rock, noting that it takes every precaution to insure that no person or structure in surrounding areas is affected during blasting operations. 

Similar to its excavation abilities, Clarkson Construction says it has the equipment to perform paving duties on multiple locations at one time. It has its own mobile concrete batch plants, and it has built and paved major portions of interstates 70, 470, 35, 435 and 635, as well as U.S. highways 71 and 69. 

With vast resources in machinery and manpower, the company declares it can build bridges of all types and sizes on more than one project at a time. In addition, it is capable of demolishing existing bridges and removing debris in one night. The company builds mechanically stabilized earth, cast-in-place and soldier beam/precast panel retaining walls for highway commercial and residential projects. It can also build roadside noise walls. 

Also, Clarkson Construction performs foundation construction for buildings with the capabilities of delivering concrete and steel support structures for large elevated floor spaces. 

Staying Focused

Clarkson is proud of the work his family has done and its longevity in the construction industry, noting that it means, “a lot of people have done a lot of hard and great work.”

Clarkson Construction does not anticipate slowing down, and Clarkson mentions that the company is adapting to new technologies such as GPS, which he says is getting more and more important every year. 

For the future, Clarkson sees the company continuing to do well at the things it does well now, such as site and highway infrastructure work. “There is always the possibility to branch out into other things, but right now, the focus is on what we’ve been doing,” he says.  

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