Milestone Contractors L.P.

At Milestone Contractors L.P., employees depend on each other to get the job done right, President CJ Potts says. “It’s about not letting each other fail,” he declares. “We have to lift each other up to a new level every day.”

Indianapolis-based Milestone provides asphalt paving, asphalt sales, concrete paving, miscellaneous concrete services, underground water, storm and sewer installation, and grading and bridge construction services. Founders Bob Studler and Harry and Oscar Meshberger started the company in 1937 as Meshberger Stone.

Over the years, the company grew to its current status by merging with 18 other companies that were smaller and family owned, Potts says. “Today, we operate in over 42 counties in Indiana,” he says, noting that Milestone has the ability to work in Kentucky, Illinois and Ohio. “There’s nothing we can’t do as far as building any type of construction in the highway construction industry.”

Milestone also is part of The Heritage Group, an Indianapolis-based holding company of highway construction and materials, environmental services, energy sales and marketing, and chemical refining firms. The Fehsenfeld family’s ownership of Heritage is largely responsible for Milestone’s culture, Potts asserts.

“The Fehsenfeld family exemplifies hard work, commitment, trust, care, customer service and putting the people first,” he says. “I directly report to Jim Fehsenfeld, who shows commitment to our success, support of our vision and goals, and trusts me with the responsibility of leading what I consider the best collection of construction professionals anywhere.”

Critical Elements

Potts, who has more than 27 years’ experience in the construction industry, joined Milestone in 2012. “I’ve been in construction basically my entire life,” he says, noting that he followed in the footsteps of his father, Charles Potts, who’s been in the industry for over 55 years.

“He has been my mentor through the years, leads by example, and has the highest of character and integrity,” the younger Potts says. “He taught me about doing the right thing for the right reasons and always doing what you say and say what you mean.”

After two years at Milestone, “The people here have accepted me like I’m part of their family,” Potts explains, noting that the employees share his goal of providing the highest quality work to clients while operating with a safe, incident-free work culture. “To go after those goals with absolute passion is critical to our success.”

It is also essential for Milestone’s workers to trust each other, Potts says. “If you break that trust, it’s hard to be as successful as you can possibly be,” he declares. “We need to make sure everyone on the Milestone Team understands that being there for each other no matter what is the critical thing.”

Big Issues

Milestone has adapted to changes in its industry, including  project-funding levels that are not as high as they need to be, Potts says. “That’s a big issue we’re all facing,” he states. “There continues to be talk at all levels of industry about needing a long-term highway bill because infrastructure is underfunded right now.”

Many other delivery systems have come into play, including public-private partnerships, Potts says. These allow “DOTs and public agencies to get projects out a little quicker without having the money on hand, because it’s paid for over a longer period of time,” he says.

Safety regulations also have become more stringent, requiring all companies to increase their emphasis on safety. “Those companies that can perform at a higher level, safety-wise, have an advantage over those who can’t do so,” he says.

Milestone stays at that high level by providing continuous safety training and making sure employees have the best personal protection equipment (PPE) available, Potts says. “One of our focuses is to make sure that the PPE provided is approved and certified,” he says.

The company also has adopted a new slogan, “Safety by choice, not by chance,” which its workers chose through a safety motto contest. 

Potts sees an “incredible” future for Milestone with its staff. “We have the greatest collection of construction professionals in the business,” he says. He cites one instance when a funeral procession passed one of its work sites. Instead of continuing to work, Milestone’s employees stopped, put their hard hats on their chests and stood quietly until the procession passed.

A relative of the deceased wrote a letter to Milestone and praised it for the respect its workers showed. “I’m proud to be a part of the Milestone family,” Potts says. “It’s a true blessing to work with and lead such a high quality of people.” 

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