Case Studies

Clarkson Construction Company

135 years of family tradition and legacy

Clarkson Construction Company has been in business for more than 135 years. Starting as a one-man, one-horse grading operation, Clarkson Construction has developed into a premier general contracting company of the Midwest. Headquartered in Kansas City, Missouri, Clarkson Construction specializes in complex design-bid-build and design-build projects with a focus on highways and transportation projects. Clarkson Construction Company

After returning from the Civil War, George G. Clarkson founded Clarkson Construction and began working on the foundations of Kansas City, clearing land and performing excavation work for streets and buildings. More than a century later, the company remains a family-owned and -operated business with more than 800 employees. “Clarkson is a sixth-generation business,” says Tom Kellerman, Chief Engineer for Clarkson Construction. “Our experience sets us apart from the competition. We build large, complex projects. Our primary niche is highways, but we excel at anything involving road work, site work, railroads, paving and bridgework.”

A rich heritage

With a diverse set of services that Clarkson Construction has developed over the years, the company name has become synonymous with safety, quality and efficiency. Clarkson Construction’s strong reputation has enabled the business to establish new and lasting relationships throughout the Midwest. A rich history has been the means for generating a strong network of repeat clients, including major railways, the transportation departments of Kansas and Missouri, as well as private developers.

Throughout each year, Clarkson Construction has numerous projects under construction. The company is currently working on multiple highway, bridge and railroad jobs for new and repeat clients. Clarkson Construction is involved in a joint venture with Kiewit in the construction of the $288 million Johnson County Gateway design-build project at the confluence of I-35, I-435 and K-10 in Johnson County, Kansas. The project is being constructed in order to handle the increased growth and economic development in Johnson County and requires the existing lane configurations during peak traffic times, accommodating the existing 240,000 vehicles that use the corridor each day.

Clarkson Construction is also involved in the I-70 reconstruction from K-7 interchange to 110th Street interchange in Wyandotte County for the Kansas Department of Transportation. The company will build new widened/relocated eastbound lanes and remove the existing eastbound and westbound lanes and replace with new widened westbound lanes. This job will include more than 450,000 cubic yards excavation as well as 160,000 square yards of new 12-inch concrete pavement.

Clarkson Construction has just completed the $64 million Manchester Bridge design-build project for the Missouri Department of Transportation which replaced two three-lane bridges — each more than 2,000 feet long — on I-70 with two new four-lane-wide bridges while maintaining three existing lanes of traffic in each direction in Kansas City, Missouri.

Clarkson Construction is in the final stages of construction of a $30 million design-build project for the City of Edgerton, Kansas, in southwest Johnson County, Kansas. This project involves 2.5 miles of grading, concrete paving and a bridge exceeding 700 feet crossing over the BNSF Railroad on Waverly Road, which is being constructed to serve the BNSF Intermodal Facility in Edgerton.

Clarkson Construction self-performs a majority of the work on all projects, which helps the company to ensure safety and quality control. The Clarkson Construction team performs grading, concrete paving, structures, asphalt, pipework and culverts. When subcontractors are required, Clarkson Construction turns to its database of strategic partners for specialty functions, such as electrical, signing, traffic signals, traffic control, guardrail, pavement marking, seeding and more. “Our subcontractors vary from job to job,” says Kellerman. “It depends on who is the most competitive and if they can perform the work per the specifications and in the timeframe they are afforded.”

Adapting to change

While Kellerman notes that the market has been tight as of late due to a lack of funding from local and state governments, Clarkson Construction has a well-established set of business practices that have helped the company to weather the storm when the market is in a downturn.

“From a competitive perspective, longevity is certainly a factor and Clarkson Construction has been in business since 1880,” says Kellerman. “Another aspect has been the ability to keep and maintain a strong workforce without people jumping jobs. We have been very selective of whom we hire and our key people stay with us, which probably has a lot to do with the family-owned aspect of the company. We have a lot of people who have been with us for many years.”

With the advancement of technology within the industry, Clarkson Construction has found itself investing in younger generations who are able to keep the company current with new tools and methods. Through training programs provided by Clarkson Construction, the company has found success in recruiting younger employees, which has been a challenge to other companies throughout the industry. “We’re cutting-edge right now,” says Kellerman. “Technology has changed so much in the past 10 years and our younger generation of managers and superintendents has played a major role in ensuring that we did not fall behind.”

As one of the country’s oldest and largest contractors, Clarkson Construction shows no sign of slowing down. With its strong base of tenured employees, coupled with its vision for the future and investment in younger generations, Clarkson Construction Company is on pace to remain a leading highway, bridge and railroad contractor in the Midwest.

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Spring 2018

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