Case Studies

Burdick Excavating Company Inc.

Promoting a Positive Environment

A lot of people feel like they never leave their jobs, but the reality is that for all the long hours they spend on the job, they still go home to their families at the end of the day. At Burdick Excavating Company Inc. owners Linda and Randy Burdick are so dedicated to providing comprehensive services that there are instances where they literally do not leave their jobs, and instead bring the company “family” with them. “When we perform a job, many times we live on the site. Our employees come with us in trailers and we live there until the project is completed,” says Linda. The administrative staff also travels from job to job and works in their office trailer.

The company was founded by the Burdicks in 1983, and they started out doing private work such as foundations and snow removal. Now the company has grown to employ 30, many of whom have been with the company for over 20 years, and works in a far more demanding sector: public works.

Keeping Things Flowing

Based out of Carson City, Nev., Burdick Excavating specializes in environmental projects, including stream restoration, fish ladders, drainage remediation, erosion control projects, and downtown revitalization. The majority of the work is located in the Lake Tahoe basin, where President Clinton dedicated $30 million in funds to help maintain and restore the clarity of Lake Tahoe.  Every job is challenging, due to the plethora of environmental agencies a contractor has to work with. “Here, environmental agencies are very strict, and because of local environmental mandates, we only have a six-month window from May to October that we can work,” reveals Linda.

Regulations are a constant facet of the job to navigate because Burdick Excavating only completes public work projects, and it doesn’t advertise or maintain an online presence because all of the company’s work is sealed bid. Burdick Excavating can lay claim to working on many high-profile projects over the years, for public entities in California and Nevada.

One of the company’s most significant projects is the Upper Truckee River Stream Environment Zone Restoration Project, still under construction.  The project was designed to slow down the velocity of water. The Upper Truckee River was simply flowing too fast and causing increased soil erosion along its banks, therefore depositing an excess of sediment when it entered Lake Tahoe.

“We re-dug about two-thirds of a mile’s length parallel to the existing river, as well as revegated and armored the banks.  The new channel was configured with an undulating approach to the lake to slow it down. The flood plain is 17 acres and we re-vegetated and cultivated that entire area, in addition to installing a temporary bridge for access to both sides of the existing river,” notes Linda.

The firm is also well-known in the region for a project completed in Tahoe City, Calif. Burdick Excavating completely refurbished a mile of the city’s downtown strip, built new curbs and gutters, created a new road base and paving, installed new landscaping and lighting, and created a number of concrete and granite features.

“We created these beautiful sidewalks, and even though the plan only called for three feet of paving stones, we negotiated with the store owners and all but two of them along that mile-long stretch engaged us run the pavers up to their storefronts. The project was scheduled for three years, but we finished it in two,” recounts Linda.

Avoiding Disruptions

Along with applying a knack for efficient scheduling, Burdick Excavating likes to incorporate signature beautification aspects such as salt ‘n’ pepper, white granite features into projects as the company owns a rock quarry, Boulder Creek Enterprises, inadvertently created in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. “There was an avalanche on Slide Mountain [at Lake Tahoe] back in ’83, and we eventually bought the 12 acres where the rock ended up,” explains Linda. “Because it was an act of God, the environmental agencies, of which there are many around here, don’t have an issue with us using this beautiful white granite. We’ve been using it for a number of years and it has become kind of a signature piece for us.”

Not every project is noteworthy for its aesthetics, however. Some are memorable for the more difficult aspects that must be overcome. One especially ambitious project that Burdick Excavating completed didn’t attract any other bidders twice due to safety concerns, but that didn’t prevent the Burdicks from taking on the challenge.

“We successfully installed close to three miles of water and sewer lines on a two-lane highway in Incline Village, N.V. The challenge in that project was the highway is located between a sheer cliff on the lake side, and rock walls on the high side of the narrow roadway. There were enormous amounts of rock located throughout the entire project and we would have to let road traffic through every 20 minutes. We were installing four-inch and eight-inch water and sewer lines next to live traffic, 24 hours a day, for three-and-a-half months. Even our competitors were respectful of the work we did there.”

One of the key factors to such success has been the family environment created as Burdick Excavating establishes its base of operations for each job. There are literally three generations of employees on the ground, such as the Burdicks’ son-in-law and grandson, twins of the lead operator, and sons of two other laborers. Even when it’s not fathers and sons working directly together, the general attitude is close-knit, all about communication and coordination, and having a beer together after work.  It’s for these reasons, among others, that Linda speaks so fondly of her construction life.

So, again, most people think they live at work, but the reality is that they return to their families at night. Randy and Linda Burdick and the employees Burdick Excavating Company Inc. have the best of both worlds, working as a family to provide the region with conscientious infrastructure and environmentally sensitive projects.

Published on: February 7, 2012


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