Starting out with one truck, Jerry Buesing was the sole employee of the firm he founded in the early 1960s in Minneapolis. But Buesing Corp. has grown to become an in-demand specialty contractor in the Phoenix metropolitan area and the state of Arizona. Beginning operations in Phoenix in 1986, the firm has had 20% growth in each of the past two years, according to Kevin Somerville, the firm’s vice president for marketing and business development. Buesing has performed services for many high-profile projects including South Mountain Loop 202 Freeway, ASU Tech Center – I.D.E.A. in Tempe, the Mirabella Senior Living Tower Project, also in Tempe, and the Apache Sky Casino in Winkleman, Ariz.
ENR editors have selected the firm as the 2018 Southwest Specialty Contractor of the Year.
Buesing provides a myriad of services to general contractors, although the firm’s “go-to” services are basements and below-grade garages. Other service niches include mass excavation and grading, concrete and asphalt recycling, structural excavation, trucking, shoring and earth retention, foundation drilling, soil import and export, aggregates and crushing and screening.
“Just about everything we do is from that base core of dirt, excavation and grading,” Buesing says.
Chris Harper, preconstruction director at Weitz, says his firm looks to Buesing Corp. for its superior and extensive services, echoing the sentiments of other industry insiders.
“Over the years, we have developed a great working relationship,” Harper says. “Buesing is always our first call not only for complicated excavation projects, but also for any work related to the long list of services they provide.”
People and Equipment
Founder and owner Jerry Buesing says the firm’s success is not much different than any other successful company regardless of industry.
“A company is built of things. In construction that is people and equipment,” Buesing says. “Accumulating the right people: It works.”
Chuck Carefoot, senior vice president for the Southwest at Ryan Cos., says even though workers such as truckers are at a premium, Buesing always seems to have the best people behind the controls.
“They make it a priority. That just doesn’t happen. It happens because there is intent behind it,” Carefoot says.
Buesing says the employee power of the firm extends to the management team, which includes CFO Ken Zinser and vice presidents Somerville, Bill Kelton, Bryon Matesi, Jim Knapp, construction manager Bob Pettit and safety manager Jesse Niccum.
As an excavation and earthmoving specialist, the firm’s approach to equipment is an important factor in delivering quality work and keeping costs in check. The firm has two maintenance crews working in rolling shifts as well as mobile services. As a result, the firm has equipment uptime at about 90%.
The strategy makes “a big difference financially,” Buesing says.
Additionally, equipment is the public face to most people viewing the firm’s workforce, Buesing says, adding that coloring, logos and regular washing helps the company maintain a positive image.
“I’ll have competitors or people we work for recognize our trucks. What does that tell me? That we are out in front of everyone all of the time,” he says.
Shotcrete and Demolition
An expanding part of the firm’s services is shotcrete and shoring, which the firm identified as a growing need and then hired the right person to manage the new services. Since adding Steve Hixon in 2003, Buesing Corp. has performed more than 1.2 million sq ft of shoring, Somerville says.
The firm began self-performing shotcrete in 2009, primarily as a complement to their excavation work.
“If we are not moving the dirt, it doesn’t make it profitable enough for us,” Buesing says.
In 1998, Buesing Corp. also began recycling concrete and asphalt, eventually expanding to serve other contractors. Located in Chandler, Ariz., the firm’s recycling yard was started after another firm couldn’t meet its commitments.
“It has been running good ever since,” Buesing says.
Carefoot says Buesing’s ability to handle unneeded earth, concrete and asphalt makes a huge difference on big projects, specifically citing work done on Marina Heights in Tempe.
“They help us get a lower unit cost for import and export sites,” Carefoot says.
Harper and Carefoot agree that the combination of relationships and service will keep Buesing at the forefront of the “dirt” industry in the future.
“Customer advocacy keeps us coming back project after project,” Harper says.