Sustainability is a challenge for any small business. Businesses must consistently produce high-quality work over many years and leverage that work to build lasting professional relationships. Small businesses can be greatly affected by downturns in the economy, and the best ones endure through superior service and business savvy.
Brothers Concrete Cutting of Albany is an example of an Oregon small business achieving lasting success.
Since 1978, Brothers has played an important role in the construction industry as one of the only concrete-cutting firms in the state. By specializing in one narrow field of transportation construction, Brothers gained expertise beyond that of other companies. Founded by Dick Harding, a member of the Chippewa tribe, the company prides itself on employing a diverse workforce.
Because of its dedication to quality and efficiency, Brothers is trusted by many state and private construction agencies.
"Brothers has been a great company to work with," said Scott Vogl, a general superintendent for Wildish Construction. "They are consistent and reliable, and we have been able to count on them to always deliver a premium service."
Recently, the company has been working on ODOT's State Bridge Delivery Program. As a subcontractor on Bundle 101 — Mount Hood to Chemult — and Bundle 217 — Odell Creek to Crescent Creek — Brothers is performing critical work in the construction process.
Before work can begin on a highway bridge, the work zone must be separated from the roadway and prepared for demolition. This is done by cutting the concrete or asphalt that connects the highway to the bridge deck. Over years of maintenance and repairs, a highway or bridge deck may grow to a thickness of two or three feet. Brothers is one of just a few firms in the state with equipment large enough to cut through such thick material.
As a result of its work with the bridge program, Brothers has been able to expand. The projected longevity of the program has allowed the company to make long-term investments in machinery and personnel, further separating it from the competition. The saw used to cut 2-foot-deep concrete decks, for example, costs more than $20,000 — a lot of money for a small business to invest without the prospect of continued work.
Brothers also hired an additional worker to help with the new construction jobs. The company now employs 20 people and usually has two or three crews working in the field at one time.
"The bridge program has definitely sustained us," said Chris Beck, general manager of Brothers. "Over the past five years, the economy has been difficult for the company. Now, we have steady work as a subcontractor on the bridge program. It's good to have projects to count on."