The country’s largest concrete pumping company is riding high.
After a rocky few years, Brundage-Bone Concrete Pumping—headquartered in Denver with offices in 16 states—is projecting to wrap up 2015 with $135 million in revenue. That’s a healthy comeback after the firm’s annual receipts dropped from $220 million in 2007 to $80 million in 2011 at the height of the recession, says Bruce Young, the firm’s president and CEO.
He says that Brundage leads the nation’s concrete pumping firms in technology, customer service and safety—and those elements are the key to its growth. “We determined what we can do better than other concrete pumping companies using our technical expertise and wide range of specialized equipment, and we’re growing organically by over 10% each year,” Young says.
The firm’s growth strategy is focused on expanding its current markets while pursuing greenfield opportunities and acquisitions.
Brundage’s 550 employees are engaged in commercial, infrastructure and residential projects in 55 cities—from large medical centers, arenas and wastewater treatment facilities to bridges and residential high-rises—essentially building anything that has cast-in-place concrete.
Large projects currently underway include the new Westin Hotel at Denver International Airport, where it is working with a Mortenson/Hunt/Saunders tri- venture; Marina Heights for State Farm Insurance in Temple, Ariz., with Ryan Cos.; and Block 19 for Amazon in Seattle with Sellen Construction Co. At the time of the pour, Block 19 held what is thought to be the largest mass concrete pour in the state of Washington: 13,000 cu yd of concrete placed for the foundation of a 45-story office building.
Los Angeles-based equity firm Peninsula Pacific Strategic Partners LLC acquired Brundage late last year in a $171-million deal that completed its return from bankruptcy. The company and its subsidiary, JLS Concrete Pumping, filed for Chapter 11 protection in 2010 when it hit a tough patch during the recession that sent its liabilities to more than $230 million, according to court records.
That forced a significant restructuring of the business over the next few years, and this summer, Brundage hired Gary Bernardez as its new chief operating officer. He was formerly the senior vice president of global services for Fluor Corp., Irving, Texas, and also had been president of Fluor’s AMECO integrated equipment unit.
Now a month into the job, Bernardez says, “I’ve gotten to know the Peninsula guys very well, and one of the biggest advantages is having an owner interested in growing the business. They’re righting the ship; they understand how to most effectively and profitably move forward.”
The Brundage footprint has been key to this comeback. A vast national reach means being able to mobilize large-scale fleets of equipment in a short period of time. “We’re the largest concrete pumping and placement company in the U.S. by three or four times. We have the national footprint to gear up and serve customers in multiple markets, so they get consistency of service and pricing,” Bernardez says.
“The real takeoff for us is the commercial market,” says John Hudek, Brundage’s chief financial officer. “In Denver and Seattle, we see a lot of mixed-use—retail on the ground floor with apartments or condos above. In other areas, commercial might consist more of warehouses and owner-occupied buildings.”
On the technical side, he adds, “we emphasize what we can do for our customers. For example, we have boom pumps where the boom can be detached from the truck and mounted on the forming system for the core wall of the building. The pumping unit on the truck can then be used to pump through a pipeline to the boom to place concrete in the core wall. Not many [concrete pumping firms] have this equipment or the technical know-how to work with it on a big project.”
But while Brundage has a large number and variety of pumps, “it goes far beyond that,” notes John Pole, field operations manager for the Denver office of Mortenson Construction, a longtime Brundage client. “The skill and work ethic of their operators, their training in getting the pumps set up well and their understanding of the project makes them experts in their field. The equipment and the skill of their operators make them our choice year after year and job after job.”
On the Westin Hotel project at DIA, the placement of two elevators and stair cores required pumping more than 100 cu yd of concrete per hour, 500 ft horizontally and 300 ft vertically, with four different locations for the booms. “Another whole skill set in itself,” Pole says. “The logistics and complexity of the job—coordinating the layout—is a real science, and this comes from a lot of training and experience.”