Setting the Bar and Leveling the Playing Field

Boudreau Pipeline

Boudreau Pipeline of Southern California has a reputation for service, quality performance, and a commitment to philanthropy like few others. That’s how far it has come from the days when it was just an owner-operator with a backhoe and a vision.

In 1996, after a period spent working for his father in the plumbing sector, Alan Boudreau purchased his first backhoe and started out as an owner-operator. It was in 1997 that he nervously put in his first independent bid on a project (involving 41 homes in Rancho Santa Margareta).

“One of my now competitors, which I was working for then, asked me if I wanted to bid one of the projects that he couldn’t get to and he didn’t want to leave his customer hanging. I agreed to do it. I bid the job, got the job, and hired a few people.” One job led to many, and the rest is history for Alan, now President of Boudreau Pipeline Corporation.

In line with almost every other business in this competitive sector, Boudreau found his company squeezed by the downturn of 2008. However, the hard times were also an opportunity to shape the business into a fit and competitive operation ready for the future. Vice President of Operations, Dave Reynolds, says, “Ninety-five percent of our business was home building and we reinvented from there and diversified into broader markets.”

He continues, “We’re in commercial work, multi-family work, single family homes; and just recently we branched out and we do our own concrete structures. We have a potholing department, subsurface utility engineering, and a year or so ago we really got into working with mobile home parks and the decaying infrastructure there.”

Signature style
Serving builders, contractors, municipalities, and utilities, Boudreau Pipeline’s signature style on projects is to go beyond the expected and build better communities. With just over three hundred employees as well as an imposing fleet of equipment, it has the resources to undertake the most complex of projects within budget and on time, and to develop relationships that last.

“We have good partnerships with our vendors and that allows us to bring to the table quicker deliveries on parts, because we work very hard at maintaining those relationships. If we need product pre-ordered for a project, we’re not sitting there asking our clients for deposits. We take over the wet utility work, so they don’t have to,” Reynolds says.

“One of the things we bring to the table for our clients is reputation. They don’t have to worry about if the project is going to get done, or are they going to make my schedule. There’s a certain amount of trust they give to us knowing that we’ll get it done.”

Boudreau confirms: “Something we hear a lot is that ‘We need firepower on this here project,’ and the more difficult and ugly the jobs are, the better. We’re suited for them, so our clients typically like to have us on the larger, challenging schedules and difficult projects.”

Commitment to the end
A project that exemplifies Boudreau Pipeline’s commitment to delivery is Marblehead On The Coast (or ‘Marblehead Coastal’), in San Clemente; a project begun in 2005 that the company saw out to the end, despite numerous challenges.

Facing bankruptcy during the downturn, the project stalled. In 2010, it started back up. The bonding company re-engaged Boudreau Pipeline to complete the $20 million infrastructure development, which is now, fourteen years later, approaching its last phase.

Boudreau explains: “It almost took us down during the downturn and they brought us back out of the downturn finishing it.” Reynolds sums it up, “We continue to develop work out of that one single project because of our can-do attitude and our ability to get things done.”

People are Boudreau Pipeline’s competitive advantage. The company supports training, scholarships, and internship programs to promote careers in the industry, both internally and industry wide. Three years ago, it hired a dedicated training manager to develop an internal training program.

A people company
“I often tell people that we’re a people company, we’re not a pipeline company. We just happen to dig ditches for a living,” said Boudreau. “Our heart is [in] building a better life for communities and families. We dig the future. That goes to our can-do attitude. Mutual respect is one of our guiding principles, as well as communication and accountability.”

Boudreau Pipeline is working with several partners who are trying to raise awareness of careers in the skilled trades. Boudreau is on the board of the California Homebuilders Foundation (CHF), the charity arm of the building industry. CHF supports scholarships for students interested in a career in homebuilding and Boudreau Pipeline is a major supporter and contributor.

Out of CHF emerged the Building Industry Technology Academy (BITA), a four-year construction trades program, offered to California high school students at no cost, to get students who opt out of a college or university track post-secondary endeavors career ready upon graduation.

“The Orange County chapter started it in 2002, I believe,” Boudreau says. “We’ve got a total of thirty-one schools now in California that have this four-year program. The building industry around here has been doing internship programs with them, so along with our training program, we’re really trying to bring the youth into our industry and we’re really trying to promote construction as a noble trade.”

Room to grow
People are key to growth, and Boudreau Pipeline fully subscribes to this. As Boudreau says, “One of our strategies with people and learning and development is, we’ve got people who want to grow and if the company is not growing, then our people won’t have places to go or room to grow.

“We’re looking to expand through acquisitions of different companies, different agencies, looking to paving – anything that will help our core uptake – service work for failing infrastructure, we’re looking to expand into Northern California, into adjacent states, and all with the mindset that we’ve got to create opportunities for our employees to grow.”

The company’s efforts have been validated time and again. It has won three of Inland News Group’s ‘Top Workplaces’ awards back-to-back, and Boudreau Pipeline is optimistic that it will achieve number four this year. The award is based on employee feedback.

“We’ve been working on this specifically since late 2016: how do we make Boudreau Pipeline better than our competitors? How do we make Boudreau Pipeline better for our employees? How do we make Boudreau Pipeline better for our family?” Reynolds says.

According to Reynolds, it starts at the top with Alan. “He has a true compassion for the people that he works with. He always says the people make the company, not him. His name may be on the building but it’s the people that work here that make the company what it is. It goes beyond just digging ditches and putting pipe in the ground; it goes to how we treat one another, the way we treat our clients, the way we treat our vendors.

Building community
“They’re all a part of the big puzzle that is Boudreau Pipeline wet utility construction. We care for what the people who work with us care for: feeding the hungry, homing the homeless, training kids in school. We are building a better life for community and family.”

Boudreau Pipeline’s charity car and bike show, Cars, Crafts, Bikes and BBQ, will take place on October 19 in Corona, California, and will raise awareness and support for Peppermint Ridge, an organization dedicated to empowering individuals with developmental disabilities, and HomeAid Inland Empire, a non-profit organization for which Reynolds serves as president.

“We got involved with HomeAid very specifically in 2016, helping the OC chapter build a family care facility in the City of Orange by donating manpower and equipment to do the wet utility improvements, to make that shelter possible,” Reynolds explained.

Last year, over 69,000 care kits and more than 231,000 bottles, diapers, and other baby care items were donated to local shelters, and to individuals and families in need. Other efforts include the Full Bellies/Warm Hearts initiative, a drive to present local children in need with backpacks full of school supplies, as well as shoes and winter coats.

Giving back
When asked why Boudreau Pipeline so actively supports programs to help those in need, Reynolds says that in the past he himself has fallen on hard times. “You don’t forget things like that,” he says, and it is clear from what both Boudreau and Reynolds say that their commitment goes far beyond the demands of just doing a job. “It’s got to be about more than a paycheck,” says Reynolds.

At the end of the day, while the awards and the recognition are gratifying, they have little to do with what motivates the good work and charitable outreach of Boudreau Pipeline. There is a focus on building communities. Fittingly, that also makes for a company that everyone – employees, vendors, and clients – wants to do business with.

“We truly do care about the people that work here. It goes to that. We truly care about our client and taking care of them. We truly want to partner with our employees, vendors, and clients to give them the best product available, give them the best jobs available, and be the best customer to our vendors available. We really do try to set that bar in terms of what we do and how we do it,” says Reynolds.

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.

November 16, 2019, 11:25 PM EST