Collaboration in Construction

Texas Cordia Construction

General contractor Texas Cordia Construction specializes in heavy civil construction in South Texas. Its experienced professionals are particularly skilled with road work and often partner with the Texas Department of Transportation.
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The company was established in 2011 by Isaac Heredia and Yara Corbitt, who had been tossing the idea back and forth for a number of years and finally decided to start on this new journey. Last year, Texas Cordia Construction had approximately seventy employees in Edinburg, Texas and today has grown to 105 employees.

“We have a very dedicated staff in the office that understand the dynamic and fast pace that we operate at around here just to keep up with our personnel in the field,” says President and Chief Executive Officer Yara Corbitt of Texas Cordia Construction. This year, the young company is celebrating five of its employees’ five-year anniversaries at Texas Cordia to show appreciation to the loyal and hardworking staff.

A previous feature of Texas Cordia Construction in last year’s Construction in Focus magazine announced the company’s goal to launch a paving materials plant. The process began with research and investigation before it received its permits, and Texas Cordia has considered the entire operation to be an exciting adventure.

The company is progressing quickly towards its goal to purchase and use the plant. “We are starting a new hot mix plant. We’re in the process of breaking ground at the location we purchased and moving it down to our location down here in the valley,” says Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Isaac Heredia of Texas Cordia Construction. The hot mix plant is an assembly of mechanical and electrical equipment where materials are blended, heated, and mixed with a binder to produce an asphalt mixture.

Yara Corbitt was recognized by the South Texas College with an award for Woman of the Year last year. Texas Cordia has done several projects for the college, and Yara was invited to give a speech at its Women in Technology event. The company has remained involved with the college and supported the program in various ways, which led her to being nominated and named as their honoree.

The distinguishing quality of Texas Cordia in the industry is that it has two owners with very different knowledge and strengths. Both lead by example and do not expect any employees to do anything that they would not do themselves. The collaboration between Yara and Isaac is particularly successful as a result of their backgrounds and the fact that they look at projects from very different points of view.

Isaac was raised in a strictly construction family with extensive experience in the field, whereas Yara’s background was a formal education in engineering, which gives the company a unique perspective. “We solve problems differently, and what makes it work is that when we discuss how we would solve a problem, each with our own background, we can come up with a solution that is even better than one of our solutions on their own,” says Yara.

Texas Cordia strives to use its distinctive outlook to be innovative with projects. The owners combine their ideas to attempt to complete projects faster, under budget, and with superior quality. “Anywhere we can improve and speed up the project and the schedule, we vocalize it, communicate with the owner and try to make it happen,” says Isaac. “At the end of the day, it is at the benefit of everyone involved: the public, the owner, and the contractor.”

The Inspiration Road project mentioned in the previous article was completed by Texas Cordia six months ahead of schedule. The company is eight months ahead of schedule and very close to completion on the FM 1016 project in Hidalgo, Texas that consisted of laying 16,000 cubic yards of concrete.

Another project that Texas Cordia picked up late last year was the North 10th Street expansion project in Edinburg, Texas. The high-profile project was stuck in the design and funding phases for a long time and finally broke ground in late February. It consists of new construction and reconstruction, without any rehabilitation. “With all new and reconstruction new roads, it will provide access north and south in the community that has been highly desirable for years and years, so that project is a great job,” says Yara.

The North 10th Street expansion project is a prime example of the company’s ability to be innovative and communicate its valuable ideas with the owners. Texas Cordia partnered with the owner to change some of the traffic control details to create cost savings. For example, instead of building the bridge on the project in phases, the company has decided to work on a full construction.

Texas Cordia invests in the improvement of its local community as much as possible throughout the year. It is currently working with Habitat for Humanity by reconstructing their parking lot, driveways and sidewalks at their new store in Harlingen, Texas without compensation.

In addition, Texas Cordia and its employees collected approximately three hundred gifts for local underprivileged children in the community at the toy drive during the Christmas holidays. The employees could clearly see that the company is passionate about giving back to the community and leaving a good impression, and it motivated everyone to have the same charitable attitude. There was complete participation from the employees; everyone donated at least one gift and some donated more. “It was an overwhelming experience for me just to see that our team gave so much. I was really touched by it, and I think that’s what helps set us apart, is that we actually do care and our team cares,” says Yara.

“Safety can make you or break you,” says Yara. “We want everyone to go home to their family because, ultimately, they don’t work for me, and they don’t work for Isaac. They don’t work for Texas Cordia; they work for their family, and they need to get back to their family at the end of the day.”

Its workers’ compensation experience modification rate – MOD rate or EMR – is below 1, which is the goal of any company, yet the main motivating factor to keep the employees safe is that Texas Cordia never wants to deliver bad news to their families. The company regularly reminds its people how important it is to stay safe, and Isaac has implemented some safety toolbox meetings in the field.

The meetings take place every Monday morning, and Texas Cordia also uses safety task assignments when the company is going to perform a different task or a task that its employees have not done in over a month. The discussion involves job safety analysis for specific work assignments. The meetings are different for each task, for example, there are pre-planning meetings that are separate from the pre-paving meetings, yet they are both quick, ten-minute memory-refreshing safety meetings.

Texas Cordia aims to keep up the momentum of its safety culture every day. Every new employee who joins the company completes the ten-hour OSHA training course for construction workers. Management ensures that all employees are quite conscious of safety risks and reminds them to keep safety at the forefront of their minds.

Texas Cordia Construction is a young and dynamic company that is looking forward to the future and its expected growth. The new hot mix plant will allow it to produce its own asphalt, which will give it more control over the quality of its product, the cost, and the schedule.

“For me, that is very exciting that we set a goal; we made a plan, and we are in the process of executing it, and it’s an exciting adventure,” says Yara. The company is carefully preparing for the installation of the plant to eliminate any possible future problems once the plant is up and running. The primary goal for Texas Cordia as it moves forward is to maintain a positive attitude and to be as productive as possible while keeping the employees safe and the project on schedule.

Building the Next Generation

As thousands of experienced workers retire across North America every day, it is small wonder many industries are concerned about the future. It has been a decade since the oldest members of the baby boom generation started leaving their jobs, removing from the workplace decades of experience and skills that are tough to replace. The situation is so dire that, when younger workers are not available or knowledgeable enough to take over, retired staffers are often called back to work on a part-time basis.

December 7, 2019, 4:24 AM EST