Culy Contracting Inc.
Utilities are essential to every city and town across the country — without this backbone of infrastructure, everyday activities such flushing the toilet or filling a glass of water would be a huge hassle. In Winchester, Indiana, Culy Contracting Inc. has made a name in repairing and replacing aging sewer and water infrastructure, keeping these vital systems alive and well. Culy Contracting has established itself as a leader in this market in Indiana and Ohio along with manhole rehabilitation (rehab) and line-stopping services in Michigan, Kentucky and Tennessee.
Culy Contracting has grown to 104 employees since the company split off from Culy Construction & Excavating in 2012. Chris Culy, now owner of Culy Contracting, owned 50 percent of Culy Construction & Excavating, which was founded in 1978, with his brother, Ron Culy.
“Ron and I founded the original company over 30 years ago,” recalls Chris. “We did most of our learning on the job. Over the years we diversified into other areas besides excavation and eventually decided it was time to split into two separate entities. Ron continues to take on our power company contracts, while I established Culy Contracting to work in the water and sewer construction and maintenance sector in April 2012.”
As a spinoff of the original firm, Culy Contracting brings the adept experience of veteran construction professionals and an expert leadership team. Since the inception of Culy Contracting, Chris and his wife, Doreen Culy, have created a partnership that has established the business as a certified Woman Business Enterprise (WBE).
Tackling underground challenges
Today, Culy Contracting has found its footing in repairing and replacing critical infrastructure. Water and sewer mains, pipelines, manholes and more — Culy Contracting has built a diverse business in maintenance and replacement. “Most of the sewer-water mains in the Midwest are 50 to 100 years old,” says Chris. “We’ve concentrated on this market and we’re meeting the great demand in replacing, repairing, maintaining or retiring these outdated systems. Most of what we’re doing is federally mandated work. It’s a niche we’ve found that has worked out really well for us.”
Chris says Culy Contracting has seen substantial growth in recent years in this market as well as a large amount of repeat business. “We’ve built a strong base of return customers and engineers, many of which we’ve worked for in the past,” he says. “The industry is going strong and there’s a lot of opportunity, so we’re just doing our best to keep up and get our fair share.”
Standing out as a subcontractor
As industry innovations change, Chris says Culy Contracting is staying abreast of new ways to do the same underground repairs and maintenance. “A process that’s really trending in the market is trenchless CIPP [cured-in-place pipe] lining of sanitary sewers,” he shares. “This manufactured lining relines the old pipe and this is a preferred method because it allows for minimum disturbance to surrounding areas and the public and it’s also more cost-effective per foot.”
Culy Contracting has established itself as a trusted subcontractor to larger utilities companies. “We work with contractors in this market by going in and doing the first precleaning/televising stage,” explains Chris. “We report on the condition of the old line and while we’re cleaning, if we find broken or offset pipes, we’ll dig out this area and repair with new pipe. This is called a point repair.”
Culy Contracting’s findings in the pre-cleaning stage determine the type of CIPP liner that will be manufactured and eventually installed. “We go into existing manholes and reset the castings and rehabilitate the manhole from the inside,” explains Chris.
Chris says the company has successfully not only adapted to this new technology, but is making a name as the go-to subcontractor for CIPP lining. “We shifted gears and figured out ways to work with these guys,” he says. “We had to retrain some people and we talked with other folks that have already used the technology. Anytime there is a new product there’s always some bugs to work out, but we have been good about staying on top of technology.”
Culy Contracting is also leading in emergency water main repairs. “We have the ability to go into existing water mains and insert a valve that plugs the water line to stop the water from flowing through the mains for repairs or other routine maintenance needs and we’re able to shut down the live line and do the necessary work,” says Chris.
“While this has been around for some time, it’s really been more widely adopted in the last 15 years. We’re now one of the top installers of these products in the Midwest and one of the few offering this technology.”
Reigning in repeat business
An ability to adapt and accept the latest in industry innovations has made for a busy couple of years for Culy Contracting. “We measure our success by gross sales and the number of employees who produce those gross sales, but really that’s all tied to having happy, return customers,” says Chris. “If we continue to offer a good service and a quality product in a timely manner at a competitive price then we’re bound to produce repeat business and that really defines success for us.”
Chris adds that a personal measure of success is seeing his employees healthy and happy as well. “We have many people who have been here for 15 to 20 years or more and there’s a lot of satisfaction in knowing you’re promoting a good environment where people want to come to work,” he says. For expert sewer, water and other infrastructure repairs and replacements in Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky and Tennessee, contractors and engineers continue to call on Culy Contracting Inc.
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