C.D. Brown Construction Inc.: Digging Family Roots Deeper in the Utility Field
- Written by: C.D. Brown Construction Inc.: Digging Family Roots Deeper in the Utility Field
- Produced by: C.D. Brown Construction Inc.: Digging Family Roots Deeper in the Utility Field
- Estimated reading time: 4 mins
Don Brown founded C.D. Brown Construction Inc. (C.D. Brown) in 1978 at 25 years old with just one dump truck, a backhoe, two employees and $200 in the company account. Once the Oklahoma-based utility contractor acquired its first contract with AT&T, C.D. Brown took off.
“My father worked with AT&T to run the first fiber-optic cable in Oklahoma,” recalls Corey Brown, current president of C.D. Brown. “My father was also the first in the state to use a Ditch Witch directional boring machine.”
The operation has since grown to a fleet of 20 backhoes, six track hoes, 12 dozers, several dump trucks and over 100 highly qualified employees. Primarily serving fiber-optic telephone, cable T.V., water, sewer, electric, gas utilities and oil producers, the company travels all across Oklahoma.
“We have two locations, one in Sulphur, Okla., and a satellite office Checotah, Okla., which has its own mechanics and equipment,” explains Corey. “Occasionally, we reach into Texas and Arkansas, depending on the job. We’re also looking to expand and get licensed in New Mexico.”
Corey is proud to note that the company does not need to outsource anything. “Our shop has five full-time mechanics, we have two full-time welders as well as two full-time employees in our material warehouse and our mobile tire service,” he details. “All of these combined is how we maintain our fleet of trucks and equipment year-round.”
A Family Affair
As much as the business has grown over the years, Corey admits the growth has been slow and steady. Growing up in a family-owned and -operated business, Corey and his siblings have been contributing to the family legacy since they can remember. “This business is all that we know,” he says. “Casey, my eldest brother and vice president of C.D. Brown, is involved in the actual field work side of the business and runs a placing crew. Shane, my younger brother, is a certified welder and works in our shop to maintain our fleet. And last but not least is my sister, Kendra, who is our safety director; she keeps us in compliance with the changing requirements.”
Don still oversees the operations, but the majority of control is in Corey, Casey, Shane and Kendra’s hands. “My father is a well-respected man in the community,” Corey says. “He was recognized as the Sulphur Citizen of the Year in 2012. Also, in 2012, we were named the Murray County Business of the Year. We’re fortunate he’s given us the opportunity to grow this company and our family’s success.”
A Steady Backlog
As a total utility contractor, C.D. Brown has diversity on its side. “We can do underground or aerial work and earthwork; we don’t put all of our eggs in one basket,” explains Corey. “If a market crashes, we transition to the next. We’re pretty versatile and innovative.”
One way the company is at the forefront of innovation is through the use of many boring machines. Corey details how these machines allow C.D. Brown to run utility lines for telecommunication, water or sewer without disturbing the surface environment. “It’s a pretty high-tech field and requires a great depth of knowledge,” he reveals. “We control and steer the drilling that runs underneath the highway, roadway or river and connect on the other side to run the line.”
C.D. Brown has performed such activities for the state and many cities in Oklahoma. “We ran 50 miles of fiber optic on I-40 from Webber Falls, Okla., to Fort Smith, Ark.,” shares Corey. “We finished 200 miles of fiber placing and splicing in western Oklahoma in 2012, which took us about six months.” The company has also installed all utility ground work for the historic Artesian Hotel in Sulphur. “We’ve been on this site for about half of a year,” adds Corey.
The company has a long history of partnering with local businesses and building repeat clients. “We’re working steadily for Dodson Technologies, Cross Telephone, Chickasaw Telephone Company and the Chickasaw Nation, as well as local municipalities,” reveals Corey.
Corey admits that, as the company’s work becomes more specialized, C.D. Brown needs to continue to bring in the right, knowledgeable workforce. “The employment rate in Sulphur is good, too good sometimes, especially when we have to compete with the oil fields,” he says. “Some people have been with us for 25 years or more. When they leave its hard to fill their shoes, between the oil industry and schools not pushing children into technical vocations.”
Despite searching for a qualified workforce, C.D. Brown’s problems have been limited. “During the economic downturn we’re still busy and thriving,” shares Corey. “Our backlog is so strong that we could be right out straight until next September. Our industry is actually booming thanks to the demand for more telecommunication lines for 3G and 4G cellphone coverage.”
Corey thinks the next couple of years will include further expansion for C.D. Brown. “We’re venturing into other states like New Mexico, which five to 10 years ago we never would have done,” he says. “I think the oil pipeline industry is another good prospect, as well. There’s lots of competition in that industry but, if things continue to go the way they are now, I see us taking that step.” C.D. Brown Construction Inc. continues to move forward, delivering total utility solutions grounded in family ownership.
For more information about C.D. Brown Construction Inc., please visit: cdbrownconst.com.
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