2010 Texas Contractor of the Year: Archer Western
Archer Western Contractors of Arlington has grown significantly since entering the Texas market 16 years ago. The diversified firm is committed to developing and maintaining good working relationships with clients, and it has built major infrastructure projects from light rail to water treatment plants to energy-recovery facilities.
Texas Construction magazine selected Archer Western as its 2010 Contractor of the Year. The annual designation recognizes excellence in a contractor’s commitment to construction innovation and best business practices, reputation in the industry, volume of work and safety record.
“We’ve established a good reputation here and recruited good people,” says Joe Lee, Archer Western vice president and business group leader for the Texas Heavy Civil Transportation Division. “Our culture is to establish a family atmosphere with long-term employment and provide a quality, safe project for the owner.”
Archer Western, a subsidiary of family-owned The Walsh Group of Chicago, grew in Texas from a start-up in a two-room office to a firm producing more than $431 million annually in regional revenue.
“We started bidding work, one step in front of the other,” says Joe Lindeman, Archer Western vice president and business group leader for the Texas Water Treatment Plant/Wastewater Treatment Plant Division. “There is no doubt we hit the market right. People continue to come to Texas, and infrastructure has to keep up.”
The company employs more than 1,200 management and craftspeople in the Texas region. It typically self-performs between 45% and 65% of most projects and has placed almost 1 million cu yds of structural concrete in the Dallas-Fort Worth area during the past five years.
Walsh enjoys annual worldwide revenues in excess of $3.5 billion. The company shares management and financial resources while maintaining a decentralized management style.
“They have put people into particular areas of the country, given them the keys and let the entrepreneurship of the teams make things happen,” Lindeman says. “That allowed the company to grow.”
Road, civil and water projects Archer Western predominantly provides general contracting, construction management and design-build services for infrastructure improvements to public works departments, transit agencies, departments of transportation, the federal government and river authorities. Projects range from highways, bridges and light-rail transit to wastewater and water treatment plants, dams and ground storage tanks.
The company, with joint venture partners, has received nearly $1 billion in contracts for the Dallas Area Regional Transit light-rail Green Line extension in Dallas. The $411.2-million joint-venture contract, with Brunson Builders of Dallas and Carcon Industries of Dallas, involves building a 13-mi line alongside an existing railroad into downtown Dallas, as well as constructing six park-and-ride stations, three walk-up stations and two elevated stations.
The $475-million joint-venture contract with Herzog Contracting Corp. of St. Joseph, Mo., features more than 13.5 mi of track, six at-grade stations, three elevated passenger stations and three elevated bridge structures covering more than 11 mi. Archer Western also is building a $65-million, 92,545-sq-ft Northwest Rail Operations Facility for DART.
Archer Western, in another joint venture with Herzog Contracting, is working on a $193-million, best-value, 25-mi commuter rail expansion project for the Denton County Transport Authority in Lewisville. The “A-Train” job includes demolition of existing facilities, installation of communication and control systems, earthwork, roadbed and track construction.
Lee says there has been a shift from hard-bid to best-value contracting, which is especially true for some of the larger projects the firm secured during the past two to three years. He says construction management-at-risk and design-build contracts now represent more than 60% of Archer Western’s portfolio.
Archer Western has begun an approximately $350-million project in New Orleans for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, performing soil mixing for levees and retaining walls as part of the Hurricane & Storm Damage Risk Reduction System with joint-venture partner Alberici Constructors of St. Louis.
Archer Western also secured a $115-million, hard-bid New Orleans levee reconstruction job to raise levees to elevations between 18.5 and 25 ft from the existing 13 to 18 ft and replace existing floodgates at two highways to meet new standards.
Alternative delivery methods for water projects is a new trend, Lindeman says, adding that Archer Western received one of the first such projects: a $33-million construction-manager at-risk contract with the Dallas County Park Cities Municipal Utility District. Archer Western will provide preconstruction and construction services for a new water treatment facility, scheduled for completion in June 2012.
Archer Western was selected as the best-value contractor on the $40-million new Lake Alan Henry Water Treatment Plant in Lubbock and is also working on the $43-million Cypress Water Treatment facility in Wichita Falls and the $18-million Red Oak Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant Expansion in Red Oak.
An emphasis on safety Archer Western places an emphasis on safety.
“It’s imperative we take care of our people,” Lindeman says. “The last thing we want is issues with injuries.”