Case Studies

Colburn Construction Inc.

Rising to Every Challenge

Don Colburn founded Colburn Construction Inc. (CCI) in 1999 to proudly bring some of the most talented skilled tradesmen available together through the various construction trade unions in order to provide customers with the best in quality and craftsmanship. As a union-affiliated contractor, CCI employees are held to the highest standards of professionalism, quality, safety and experience.

Many of the CCI team came on board in the early years of the company and because of that the team has been able to exceed the union standard by bringing a signature no-nonsense approach to all of its construction and maintenance projects. This goes back all the way to the company’s founding moral: a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay. CCI acknowledges that the skilled trades are the backbone to the company’s continued success, both now and in the future. Don brought Johnny Colburn and Tim Arndt on board to help manage the company, both of which had several years of industrial construction and maintenance experience.

“We went with the name Colburn because my last name is a little hard for most to pronounce,” laughs Arndt, secretary and treasurer of CCI, “and the vote was two-to-one,” he jokes. “Sadly we lost Johnny suddenly in February 2008 and he is greatly missed by all that knew him,” Arndt continues.

Don and Arndt bring over 75 years of combined industrial construction and maintenance experience, working their way through the industry in the pipefitter’s trade. CCI is based out of Cullman, Ala., but maintains offices and fabrication facilities in the Birmingham, Ala., area. The company is licensed in many of the surrounding states and has performed several projects across the U.S. from Puerto Rico to California. The company is signatory with all of the various skilled trade unions, including ironworkers, pipefitters, millwrights, boilermakers, insulators, operators and carpenters.

Flexibility and Consistency

CCI attributes the company’s steady growth and geographical expansion over the past 13 years to its construction (union) managers Terry Browning and Coy Everett, in addition to the company’s strong affiliation with the skilled trade unions exclusively. The majority of CCI’s customers are heavy industrial manufacturers representing the steel, power and petroleum industries with critical infrastructure that has to be in good working order at all times. Being easily accessible requires a construction company like CCI to be able to furnish various numbers of skilled craftsmen at a moments notice.

“The skilled trade unions are the best way to man these projects in a timely manner knowing you have an almost endless supply of manpower to work with,” says Arndt. In turn CCI has established itself as a key competitor for industrial and energy-related projects that require a high degree of specialization with clients across the country.

CCI benefits from the ability to staff up for projects on short notice, but its union affiliation also provides the company with the ability to work virtually anywhere, equipped with the skilled trade unions and total confidence in every craftsman’s certifications and experience. CCI is especially proud to be affiliated with Ironworker’s Local Union 92 in Birmingham, Ala., which is managed by Fred “Bart” Maddox. Maddox and his competent staff are always striving to build a better and long lasting relationship regarding the contractor and customer. Because of this CCI has been an early and enthusiastic supporter of the Ironworker Management Progressive Action Cooperative Trust (IMPACT). IMPACT is a joint-labor management trust formed to help create job opportunities for affiliate union ironworkers and signatory contractors with more comprehensive labor management programs.

“IMPACT is a great program and we believe it’s very beneficial not only for the ironworker journeymen and apprentices but the contractors and clients as well,” asserts Arndt. In essence IMPACT aims to increase transparency within the union halls and illustrate how union labor isn’t always the lowest cost option, but is always the most responsible choice. Through the program interested parties can learn how union dues are put to use for better safety training programs, rigorous continuing education initiatives and a national substance abuse program that yield confident, highly-skilled employees, lowered workers compensation rates and a drug-free workplace.

Thinking Ahead CCI has undertaken a number of initiatives in recent years to increase its sustainability in the marketplace while also becoming more competitive. The company developed a recycling program to divert large building materials from the landfill and, on a smaller scale, to ensure that even everyday items like inkjet cartridges, paper and soda cans are handled properly. Employees are also reminded of their personal role related to the environment and recycling at home.

On a much larger scale CCI has recently restructured its corporation and are in the final process of acquiring national certification with the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC). Don and Arndt may have founded the company, but Deborah Colburn and Vicki Arndt have strongly contributed to the company’s growth, allowing CCI to be more competitive by adding a combined 65 years of business experience. CCI is already a Women-Owned Business Enterprise (WBE) within the state of Alabama. The national certification however will help the company expand into the federal government arena and also be recognized by out-of-state customers that prefer to use minority-owned businesses within the Minority-Owned Business Enterprise (MBE). CCI’s decision has been in the making for many years as some of its longest standing vendor partnerships are with other minority-owned businesses in the country.

“When we started Don and I took classes at the University of Alabama for business management and realized pretty early the importance and benefits of supporting the MBE,” says Arndt. “Obtaining this national certification is our final step in the process to be more competitive regarding the bidding process and to support our customer’s needs,” he continues.

Within 2013 Don and Arndt expects to see a major increase in the amount of available opportunities nationally and expects the firm’s WBE certification to help the company continue to expand geographically. No matter where this highly competitive team ends up, the company’s multi-trade union affiliation and deep-rooted commitment to the professional development of its craftsmen will help Colburn Construction Inc. set the standard for union and merit-shop contractors to rise to every challenge presented by each customer.

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Spring 2018



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