Setting the Standard while Digging the Future

Boudreau Pipeline Corporation

Boudreau Pipeline Corporation is known for being different, but in all the right ways. For 23 years, the company has served Southern California with immaculate underground utilities work. But, more than what it does, it is how it does it that is most admirable. The ‘how’ is the ‘people’.

At Boudreau Pipeline Corporation, people are its greatest asset, and this is the motivating force behind everything that it does. Being committed to its people and the communities it calls home is not just a slogan, but a way of life that is embedded in the company culture and organizational structure.

There is a reason it has been named a top workplace in Inland Empire for five years straight and counting: it continuously sets the standard while digging the future. It even has fun while doing it, which is part of the secret of its growth from one-man-and-a-backhoe to what has become a family of employees.

A re-evaluation
Driven by its commitment to its people, Boudreau continues to identify new ways to grow and adapt. As an essential service, it quickly addressed the onset of COVID to ensure the safety of its people and the viability of its business. It was particularly helpful that market activity aligned with the services it offers, particularly residential and commercial work.

As people were forced to stay home, they reevaluated their housing needs which has had a positive impact on residential construction. Likewise, increased online shopping has accelerated the warehouse market which is driving growth of Boudreau Pipeline Corporation’s commercial division and setting the stage for some really exciting projects.

One such example is the Rialto project, a great, two-phase challenge to Boudreau Pipeline Corporation in terms of both size and complexity. One of the largest projects of its size on the West Coast, the project required an estimated 16,239 hours and 18,020 equipment hours, involving fifteen employees and seven large pieces of equipment, including the Telebelt, the “million-dollar machine.”

Million-dollar marvel
The Telebelt, which moves materials efficiently and effectively to even the most awkward areas, may have cost a million dollars but the value it adds to Boudreau Pipeline’s arsenal is exponential, especially on projects like Rialto.

As President and Founder Alan Boudreau explains, “Out here in California, we have to mitigate all of the storm water on site, so we put big detention systems in the ground, football field sized units that are 20 feet deep and filled with anywhere from 96 inch to 142/144-inch pipe and filled with rock.”

Derrick Brown worked on both phases of the Rialto project. He says, “A project of this magnitude would have been extremely difficult to complete without the Telebelt. It has a reach of 130 feet, allowing us to reach several rows of the pipe at a time. This allowed the Telebelt to stay in one place longer resulting in less movement of the machine that took about an hour to tear down and setup.”

The Telebelt allowed for the efficient placement of aggregate, in this case, 5,000 tons a day for a total of 200,000 tons. A project of this magnitude required the coordination of numerous suppliers and subcontractors, including 200 trucks a day to move the aggregate. It was also a challenge to store pipes of that size and volume on site.

Brown explains, “The reason the backfill was a challenge was due to the size of the basin and the size of the pipe. The 162-inch pipe, while being very strong, if not backfilled correctly could result in damage to the system.” To make matters worse, access to the basin was limited on three sides.

“This portion of the project required a lot of coordination between the client and other subcontractors. We had to provide the excavation details to the grader that was excavating the basin on our behalf,” Brown says. “Had we not coordinated this properly, it had the potential to shut down other subcontractors on the project.”

Ownership as a tool
While projects like Rialto are keeping Boudreau Pipeline Corporation busy on site, a lot has been taking place behind the scenes as well. Recently, the company transitioned to an Employee Stock Ownership Program (ESOP), which seems like a natural fit for the company and its culture.

Boudreau is clear on the motivation behind this decision, “There are two ways to invest in a company: time and money. Our people definitely invest their time and now to be able to reward them for that really aligns. The heart of our company is building a better life for our communities and our families.”

The goal is to use ownership as a tool, as Boudreau notes, “To give them this ownership mindset.” He adds, “This is their company. They helped build it and it is a great opportunity to make their lives a little better. We’re a people company, not a pipeline company, we just happen to dig ditches for a living.”

Speaking with the employees proves that this strategy is paying off. As “I am always impressed by this company,” Brown says. “I told Alan years back that I look forward to Monday and walking into the office. The same rings true today, although ‘walking into the office’ looks different for now, but the culture and values ring the same.”

Career opportunities
Brown has been with the company for four-and-a-half years. Originally brought in as a junior project manager, he quickly made project manager, and most recently, became director of project management.

Boudreau Pipeline Corporation hires the cream of the crop and works hard to retain and advance its talent. By investing in its people and providing them with resources, training, support and career advancement strategies, employees can envision their future with the company and are provided a pathway to success.

Birth of Baseband
Few businesses are willing to establish an entirely new company to ensure that their best people have career advancement opportunities, but that is exactly what Boudreau did with the founding of Baseband.

“We started another company,” Boudreau says. “Baseband is a division of Boudreau working on the telecom side, IT, fiber optics. We’re already working underground, and we do some dry utility work which is electrical, gas, and cable work already, so it was definitely a complement.”

Baseband employs over 40 people, a number that continues to grow. It also employs some of Boudreau Pipeline Corporation’s best talent, including a member of the accounting team who Boudreau thought was ready to move into a controller position. Unfortunately, that position was already filled at Boudreau Pipeline Corporation, but Baseband made that advancement possible.

From Boudreau’s perspective, it’s simple. “We’ve taken the stance that if we aren’t growing as a company and giving people these opportunities then they’re just going to leave to go and find those opportunities elsewhere.”

While Boudreau Pipeline Corporation seems like an elite team to be a part of, the company’s growth and success means that the door is open for more great people to join the team. “In order to meet our growth plans, we need 100 more people throughout all of our divisions,” Boudreau says.

The goal is not just to grow in size, but also geographically, taking Boudreau Pipeline Corporation and Baseband beyond Southern California into the Nevada and Arizona markets through both organic growth and acquisitions.

Growth also means ensuring the systems are in place to support any expansion that occurs. Since 2019, the move to transition the company’s operational systems to the cloud has been underway. Though this was met with some resistance at first, the new systems were the reason it took the company only a matter of days to have the office up and running remotely when COVID hit.

The COVID rethink
For Boudreau Pipeline Corporation, COVID was both a challenge and an opportunity. Boudreau describes it as, “An opportunity to rethink how we do work and rethink how we do everything.” Rethinking, in this case, also included the company’s philanthropic commitments.

Among its many charitable efforts, Boudreau Pipeline Corporation hosts an annual charity car and bike show called Cars, Crafts, Bikes and BBQ, but given the restrictions to in-person gatherings, the event could not proceed as originally planned. But, Boudreau says, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”

The team went back and forth on the best way to proceed and eventually settled on selling event t-shirts to raise funds. Each year a new t-shirt is designed, so this was a way to pay homage to tradition while also adapting, and as a result, $10,000 was donated to the United Way branches in their home communities of Inland Empire, Corona and Los Angeles.

At Boudreau Pipeline the priority is not growth for growth’s sake, but rather growth as a means to increase the company’s positive impact on its people and the communities it serves. The goal is simply to do good work, setting the standard through exemplary on-site performance, safety, culture, philanthropy, and a strategy that puts people first.

More Than Just a Trend

The construction industry is typically slow to evolve. Despite the existence of countless new innovations and technologies, and safer, better ways to do things, it is an industry where tried and true construction methods and long-accepted materials are seldom replaced by a new product or approach.

April 17, 2021, 7:36 PM EDT