In 1958, the year owner Robert Mendenhall founded Las Vegas Paving, the metropolitan area began a building boom that would last nearly 50 years. During that time, the population grew by nearly 2 million. Likewise, the contractor grew to dominate road building and construction in Southern Nevada and beyond.
According to the ENR Southwest Top Contractors survey, the firm’s regional revenue in 2015 reached $486 million, up nearly $120 million from 2014 and up almost $260 million from 2013. The privately held firm ranks second in the region for total revenue and first in the transportation and public sectors and first in Nevada-based project revenue.
“We have worked with [Las Vegas Paving] for 40 years. They are very innovative.”
—Tracy Larkin-Thomason, NDOT Deputy Director
Beyond the numbers are the dynamics of a company that hasn’t lost sight of its goal of being an efficient and innovative firm that maintains its strong position in a region of dramatic growth, according to clients of the firm, including the Nevada Dept. of Transportation.
“We have worked with them for 40 years. They are very innovative,” says Tracy Larkin-Thomason, NDOT deputy director.
ENR regional editors, noting the firm’s sustained level of success and its creative approach, have named Las Vegas Paving ENR Southwest Contractor of the Year.
Las Vegas Paving built the first mile of recycled asphalt highway in the world in 1974, ushering in a new era for road builders everywhere. Mendenhall holds patents on several aspects of asphalt recycling that are licensed to equipment manufacturer CMI Roadbuilding. Moving beyond simply paving, today the firm also performs concrete work, environmental services, provides materials and more.
On current NDOT projects, Las Vegas Paving’s ability to deliver results while adjusting to variable project circumstances has been critical, says Larkin-Thomason. “What sets them apart from my point of view is how well they work with us when issues arise,” she says.
The firm is currently tackling their largest project to date, the $236-million Boulder City Bypass, the second phase in Nevada’s Interstate-11 endeavor. The project will create approximately 12 miles of new freeway around the southern and eastern perimeter of Boulder City from I-515 to US-93. The project includes the design and construction of a four-lane access-controlled freeway with a new interchange at US-95 and a reconfigured interchange at the US-93/SR-172 Hoover Dam exit. Major project elements include extensive rock excavation, nine bridges, a scenic view parking area overlooking Lake Mead, drainage culverts and environmental mitigation. A portion of the project is under construction through a ridge of the El Dorado Mountains.
Other recently completed major highway projects include the I-215 North and South projects, which expanded the urban Las Vegas freeway system. The firm also regularly performs work at McCarran Airport and completed a 12-month, $67-million runway rehabilitation project in late 2015 to replace an asphalt runway with concrete.
Las Vegas Paving’s strategic strengths keep the firm busy building roads in the region, according to Fred Ohene, deputy general manager of planning and engineering at the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada, the agency that manages the I-11 project. He cites the firm’s local presence in materials, manpower and knowledge as key reasons for their success.
Las Vegas Paving has 11 locations in the Las Vegas Valley, including asphalt plants, gravel pits, equipment centers and quarries. “The fact that they have all of these concessions helps them a lot,” says Ohene.
The acquisition and creation of the facilities was part of a process that took decades to accomplish.
“The vision that our owner had and of our board of directors was to purposely set up shop in those parts of the Valley—whether the Valley grew to the north, south, east or west—so we were strategically positioned to help us facilitate that growth,” says Ryan Mendenhall, division manager, Las Vegas Paving. Ryan is the grandson of founder Robert Mendenhall.
Having such resources on hand allow for more efficient estimating when bidding jobs, Ryan Mendenhall says. “Since we have our own sites, we are able to perform anywhere in the Valley with minimal truck haul. And sometimes, that can cost more than the material itself,” he says.
Building People to Build Projects
In addition to the firm’s materials advantage, Las Vegas Paving also touts its team-building abilities as a key reason for winning work. For example, the company performed prep work on the I-11 bid over the course of several years, and included input from design and subcontracting teams, Mendenhall says.
“We approach these larger design-build projects with great care and accuracy, forming a team that has the same values, morals and visions as we do,” he says. “So when it comes time to turn in our proposal, not only do our relationships bode well, but also the design, or cost savings, because we have been involved for years before it has been unveiled to the public.”
Once Las Vegas Paving wins a job, flexibility on the project makes owners glad they made the selection, says Ohene.
For example, the I-11 project requires regular watering to limit dust and mitigate naturally occurring asbestos. After beginning the job, Las Vegas Paving extended the pond and piping system to 15 miles in order to further reduce the probability of high asbestos level exposure to the area without asking for a change order, Ohene says.
“We haven’t had any remediation at all,” he says.
Mendenhall says the firm’s traits were born from its 88-year-old founder, Robert, who continues to inspire.
“When you have an owner who could easily have been at home for the last 20 years but instead continues to come to work every day and innovate, that work ethic trickles down to his managers, to the superintendents and to the Teamsters, laborers and flaggers,” Mendenhall says.
Jay Smith, president of Las Vegas Paving, who has been with the firm for more than 40 years, says Robert’s ongoing involvement includes regular attendance of monthly management meetings and breakfasts. The nearly day-long meetings include making decisions on buying equipment and conclude with accounting staff discussing results with the management staff.
Corey Newcome, division manager, says part of the firm’s successful recipe includes Robert’s ability to empower managers to be successful. He also points to the successful implementation of a concrete and underground division, which has allowed the firm to perform much of the work on the jobs they win.
“Our owner has a good level of confidence in us, and we have responded accordingly,” he says.