While Cajun Industries helped rebuild Louisiana in the years following Katrina, the work also has enabled the Baton Rouge-based contractor to strengthen its own foundations for the future. Traditionally regarded as a civil contractor with expertise in specialties such as foundation and concrete work, Cajun Industries now is a formidable player in the region, this year cracking the Top 10 of ENR Texas and Louisiana's Top Contractors list for the first time.

Through the recession, the company capitalized on unprecedented opportunities in both the public and private sectors. A combination of work with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and industrial clients pushed regional revenue up steadily from $238 million in 2008 to $469 million last year, the most in company history. Cajun also jumped nearly 100 notches to No. 110 on ENR national's 2012 list of the Top 400 Contractors; its revenue total was $497.4 million. All the while, the company maintained a top-notch safety record, even as it brought in hundreds of new workers to its jobs.

In light of the firm's broad success, ENR Texas & Louisiana has named Cajun Industries its Contractor of the Year.

Ken Jacob, Cajun president and CEO, says that while the company's core culture remains the same, its recent results fostered a "can-do" attitude.

"There's a tremendous confidence among our people today," he says. "Over the last several years, they performed at a level they weren't sure they could perform at. Now they can take on anything, and I'm confident they can do it."

Major Milestone

Last year the company achieved a milestone in its nearly 40-year history with work for the Corps on the $350-million Lake Pontchartrain and Vicinity Hurricane Protection Project Chalmette Loop Levee in St. Bernard Parish, La. Known as LPV 148, it was, by far, the largest project in the firm's history in terms of dollar volume and among its most schedule-aggressive.

While joint ventures are typical on big-dollar projects these days, Cajun chose to go it alone on LPV 148, the only project bidder to do so. Despite being the largest contract in the company's history, Cajun earned the backing of Liberty Mutual to bond the project.

Cajun won the contract in February 2010, but bid protests delayed work by several months. Even so, the June 1, 2011, completion date remained firm. As a result, Cajun's team compressed the schedule from 11 months to seven months, building 8.2 miles of floodwall from December 2010 to June 2011.

The project required a massive amount of materials and manpower within a tight time frame. Crews installed an 8.2-mile limestone access road and crane-leveling pad that required the procurement of more than 250,000 tons of #610 limestone. The existing earthen levee was degraded by an average of 3 ft (33,675 total cu yd) to provide the foundation for the construction of the floodwall. Nearly 1.7 million sq ft of sheet piling was installed at an average length of 42 ft (approximately 20,602 tons).