Greater Seattle Concrete Inc.
Greater Seattle Concrete Inc. (GSC) was founded in 1984 as a small, privately owned concrete contractor in Mill Creek, Wash. For nearly 30 years, the business has worked with a growing number of clients in the region focusing mostly in western Washington. “We started out as a flatwork concrete company in 1984,” says Leon Johnson, president and owner of GSC. “In 1988, we started doing structural concrete work and have grown from there. I started with three employees and now we have 80 people on staff. As a result, GSC is considered a structural solution and a leading innovation for all developers and general contractors in western Washington.”
After overcoming a few tough years due to the recession, Johnson says that the work seems to be picking up. “We are doing a lot of post-tension work,” he elaborates. “These mixed-structures with parking garages and apartments are what are driving the construction market here in the Pacific Northwest. The improving market is allowing us to grow. We started reorganizing in 2008 and decided what we needed was to develop three separate, strong management teams. With the improving construction market this is proving to be a good business plane for our company. This allows us to continuously have three large projects and adjust our bidding accordingly. In 2008 were down to 20 employees and we have increased our staff to 80 people.”
The company’s teams specialize in commercial and industrial concrete work. “Since 2008 we have, or are, in the process of constructing more than 2 million square feet of post-tension elevated parking garages with mix-use above,” Johnson continues. “Currently we are just finishing up building a six-story luxury apartment building in Mercer Island, where the structure is concrete all the way up.”
The company started in October 2012 and completed a majority of the work in five months. “We now are on the final phase completing a lot of architectural and decorative concrete work and water features for this project,” he elaborates.
One of the company’s new projects, Pagoda Village, is a 10,000 cubic yard project, including 156,700 square feet of post-tension elevated decks. The structure will be home to the new Farmers Market for the local farmers in the area, including abilities to process, can and package products to sell at the market.
“The building includes two sub-grade parking levels of approximately 106,800 square feet,” Johnson details. “The retail farmer market will consume 56,000 square feet of ground level and a 5-story building above the market with 220 multifamily residential units of approximately 222,590 square feet overlooking Puget Sound.”
According to Johnson, the team truly enjoys the projects GSC tackles. “We love building tilt-up concrete buildings,” he says proudly. “In the past we constructed many tilt-up concrete buildings, over 4 million square feet just in a five-year period, between 2003 and 2007.”
Johnson goes on to note that the team is currently halfway through a project constructing a Niagara Water Bottling Facility. “It’s a 325,000-square-foot tilt-up structure,” he continues. “The heaviest panel is 220,000 pounds. This is our first tilt-up project since 2007, we see this market slowly coming back, but with many empty warehouses in our area still available it will be a slow process.”
The team has won several accolades over the years, including the Excellence in Concrete Construction award. “Service and quality set us apart from other contractors,” Johnson says. “I spend a lot of time on our jobsites and we have built long-term relationships with repeat clients.”
The team has established a reputation for determining creative solutions for complex problems. In 1992, Johnson teamed up with local concrete suppliers and engineers seeing an opportunity to provide a better way to construct barge decks on transportation vessels.
“These barges have a thick steel plate that owners need to protect when loading them up with containers,” he explains. “Up until that point, they had used wood and asphalt. We came up with a better solution, building concrete ware decks for container barges. This method offers flatness and better durability than wood and asphalt.”
Johnson continues on to explain that the company performs five-inch concrete decks. “We utilize a special mix with good durability that performs well in salt water environments,” he explains. “This solution benefits our clients and provides a growing market for us. We have done 12 in 2013 already; several barge companies are electing to use this method. They use monstrous forklifts on these barges that weigh 160,000 pounds. The forklifts grind whatever is on the barge, so we go back every few years to do repair work. Our clients are some of the largest Marine Container shipping barge companies on the West Coast.”
The company’s expertise ensured Johnson and the team were able to make a name for GSC. In the coming years, Johnson plans to keep growing steadily. “We want to develop a fourth management team, which will allow us to take on more work,” he explains. “We would like to get back up to 100 people on staff, currently we have a great team and around 30 of our core guys have been here between 12 and 30 years. That is a real point of pride for us. We have real loyalty in our workplace.”
As the company approaches its 30-year anniversary, Johnson is making big plans for a celebration. “We will be updating our website,” he says, “Doing a major redesign.” While some things are changing as the business grows, a few important things remain the same. Greater Seattle Concrete Inc. continues to offer long-term relationships through innovation, integrity and honest practices.
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