Oklahoma’s Local Heavy Road Construction Company

Becco Contractors

Becco Contractors, Inc. is a family-owned-and-operated heavy road construction company that serves the city and the state in different rural areas around Oklahoma. Its key areas of expertise include bridge construction, earthworks, concrete paving, asphalt paving, underground utilities and trucking.
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Chad Smith, the general manager at Becco Contractors, knows the company history well. “We were founded in 1988 by my father. He only had a backhoe, a dump truck and a trailer, and he had five guys working for him. The first job was actually [digging] a dog’s grave for eighty-eight dollars… We have obviously expanded from there and grown with the city of Tulsa since the late 1980s.”

Becco has one main facility located in Tulsa, Oklahoma and often works with the surrounding cities in the state including Broken Arrow, Catoosa and Claremore. It takes pride in assisting the development and design of the communities in the area.

The company’s main client is the Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT). Becco has done plenty of work in the past with the City of Tulsa and the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority regarding specific issues in the turnpike system. The company built itself on the infrastructure needs of the state, and it continues to grow as Oklahoma develops.

In the past five years, the company has grown from three hundred employees to its current four hundred and fifty due to an increased workload. Many of the projects have been on the smaller side, but have accumulated, leading to significant growth. Not all have been small, however.

A Gathering Place for Tulsa in Tulsa, Oklahoma is one of the biggest privately-funded projects in the world at $350 million. The city of Tulsa has also invested over fifty million dollars for the roadway and drainage structures surrounding the park. Becco Contractors, Inc. assisted the city throughout the project with the drainage structures, paving the road to the park and other infrastructure requirements.

The bridge division of the company is a large part of Becco’s success. There are over 4,500 bridges in the state of Oklahoma, and the vast majority are outdated, creating much business for the company. The projects usually entail removing the deck and inspecting the beams followed by general rehabilitation and re-decking the bridge. The deck has a lifespan of only fifty years and usually requires replacement, but the beams will stay intact for much longer. Becco is almost always involved with the reconstruction of a bridge somewhere in Oklahoma.

The Bird Creek project involved the demolition and reconstruction of the last metal truss bridges in Oklahoma on Highway 169. Another company had used explosives to take down the bridges, and the bridges collapsed into the creek where the parts could be cut and salvaged or scrapped before commencing the reconstruction. Becco Contractors worked on the reconstruction of eight bridges over the course of the project, finishing earlier than expected and under budget.

Becco’s recycling program enables the company to recycle asphalt and concrete. The state allows a certain amount of recycled asphalt to be mixed in with new material. The company also recycles concrete whenever possible.

“We recycle concrete by crushing it; it can be panels of concrete or chunks of concrete. We let other people know that we take it for free so they don’t have to pay to dump it, and then we go ahead and crush it to reuse on certain parts of jobs,” says Chad.

One of the places that recycled concrete can be used in construction projects is the bedding and backfill for pipes. The state of Oklahoma has not established complete recycling programs yet, and Chad regularly works with the local government to stay at the forefront of the recycling options in Tulsa and Oklahoma. The building construction industry has been able to incorporate more recycling programs and options than the road construction industry, but hopefully, that will change very soon.

Becco’s very successful safety program won an Association of Oklahoma General Contractors (AOGC) award in 2017 for having over 400,000 hours with no accidents. Safety is something in which the company’s employees take great pride. The company even has a full-time safety employee who ensures that all operations are as safe as possible every day.

Currently, the main challenge for Becco is the limited local labor pool; the company has a hard time finding qualified applicants, similarly to the rest of the nation’s construction force. It uses innovative techniques to reach out to the workforce such as social media programs, digital media, signs on concrete barrier walls advertising employment opportunities and by participating in trade fairs. “The labor pool is really scarce these days. There are a lot less people wanting to do the blue-collar work,” explains Chad. “It is going to be a lost art soon if we don’t continue to teach young people about this type of work.”

There are approximately 450 people employed by Becco Contractors, and they appreciate the unique and respectful treatment from the company. The company is an Equal Opportunity Employer, and uses SBEs for COT work and DBEs for Federally funded projects. Becco purchases materials and small tools and supplies from local vendors whenever possible and employs local subcontractors as the job requires. “The thing about our workplace culture is that we try to stay within a sixty-to-ninety-mile radius from the Tulsa area so that our employees can go back to their families at night, which is why we have been able to keep our employees,” says Chad.

The extra thought put into the quality of life of its employees is an uncommon feature that employees value. Many other heavy road construction companies continually move around the country to follow the demand for projects from state to state. As a locally-owned company that works in its home areas, Becco has the advantage of working with the same employees year after year and knowing exactly what to expect from them. Some of the employees have grown with the company for over twenty years, and this high employee retention rate increases the reliability of the company. The ability to be close to family every day as opposed to only weekends is undoubtedly a bonus that motivates employees to work hard. This philosophy represents the company’s family-oriented culture very well.

Becco can self-perform much of its work so does not have to use many subcontractors. “We are able to move different crews in and out of big jobs as needed. We have our supervisors running the job as the superintendent and different supervisors or crews that come in and help do the work as needed. I think that sets us apart from a lot of other companies,” says Chad.

Another unique aspect of Becco that has been essential for its success is that it has been able to be its own trucking company since it has many trucks available for use. A lot of a project’s work involves transportation back and forth to remove excavation debris or deliver materials such as rock, concrete or asphalt, and self-performing this work is highly cost-effective and efficient.

The year 2018 marks the thirtieth anniversary for this company that truly values high-quality construction work accomplished with an awareness of safety. The family-owned, local business strives to support other local businesses whenever it is possible and has extensive knowledge from the bridges to the underground utilities. Becco Contractors, Inc. is excited to continue its growth in the heavy road construction industry at the same pace or better as the city of Tulsa, Oklahoma progresses further in infrastructure development.

Industry Changemakers

The construction industry has historically been slow to evolve, drawn to tradition over technology. As the industry is in a state of rapid innovation and advancement, organizations like the Toronto Construction Association (TCA) are working tirelessly to build strong member businesses that won’t fall behind.

June 19, 2019, 8:05 AM EDT