Interstate Improvement Inc.
When Interstate Improvement Inc. first started, the company was performing curb and gutter sidewalk work. In the past 14 years, the company has grown into a leading general highway contractor specializing in repair, retrofits, diamond grinding, sealing and deck maintenance. Located in Faribault, Minnesota, Interstate Improvement provides multiple services all over the country.
Founded by Patricia and Stephen Knish in 2001, Interstate Improvement eventually moved into performing concrete repair on roads and highways. Once the company began to notice a growing trend in diamond grinding, Interstate Improvement acquired some grinders expanded its services. Since then, the company has bought out competitors and now operates 14 diamond grinders and three large-repair crews. Interstate Improvement has also designed and manufactured some of its own equipment.
A diverse company
The diversity and quality work that Interstate Improvement offers has created opportunities for the company throughout the country. In 2014, Interstate Improvement worked in 27 different states. Sam Gramling, president of Interstate Improvement, feels the experience gained through travel is a unique advantage that his company can offer.
“Depending on what state or what region you’re in there are many different types of problems that can arise to roads and highways,” says Gramling. “We get to experience all of the different types of repairs that are done throughout the country,” The company’s ability to travel for work has enabled Interstate Improvement to attract and retain a talented workforce. In an industry where workers expect to be laid off for a portion of the year, Interstate Improvement is able to offer its employees one to two more months of work than many other companies do.
When Gramling joined Interstate Improvement in 2007 the company was experiencing its biggest growth stage. With its target market almost exclusively on the state level, Interstate Improvement benefited from the allocation of funds to repairing infrastructure. “It was during the recession when instead of building new everybody wanted to repair what they already had,” Gramling explains. “When the federal government starting dishing out the stimulus packages that really affected us.” From 2007 to 2011 Interstate Improvements revenue increased exponentially.
Interstate Improvement has started to witness a trend among its clients, who are now aiming for all-inclusiveness with jobs. “They’re starting to realize how tough it is to go back into an area and disrupt the public again, so now they’re having us do everything within a two-mile stretch so we don’t have to go back for 20 years,” Gramling explains.
One example of this method took place in Oklahoma on US Route 81. “We constructed a couple of new turn lanes, as well as new pedestrian ramps at about eight or nine intersections,” recalls Gramling, “We also did all the retrofits, and joint sealing for all the existing concrete joints. Everything was done in one shot.”
An efficient advantage
Another advantage that Interstate Improvement possesses is the ability to perform a majority of its work in-house. While there are numerous competitors around the country that perform diamond cutting, very few of them also perform the full road repair job such as Interstate Improvement. “We self-perform as much as we can until it doesn’t make sense to do so,” says Gramling. “We’ll sub out some jobs such as traffic control but we’re capable of doing everything ourselves. Sometimes people bid certain jobs so low that it just makes sense to have them do it.”
The ability to self-perform a lot of its own work also helps Interstate Improvement create a solid bid number for jobs. One measure of success for Gramling is the amount of control the company has over each project. “When we submit a bid number and self-perform a majority of the work, we have more control over the scheduling and therefore more control of the overall cost of the job,” says Gramling. “Most importantly, our company’s success is a direct result of our highly skilled workforce that collectively has an extremely high work ethic paired with our quality suppliers that remain on the cutting edge of technology.
Another performance indicator for Interstate Improvement is the result of bringing innovation to a new area. “That’s something that we really push for,” says Gramling. “It’s always fun to go into a new place where the people have never done or seen some of things that we do. We like to change the way people look at things and show them what is possible.” With Interstate Improvement being involved in concrete, the company is constantly competing with asphalt, which has always been thought of to be the cheaper and faster option. “With oil prices the way they are it’s not always cheaper and we can do it just as fast. We enjoy showing people that.”
As a relatively young company, Interstate Improvement Inc. has a bright future. As it continues to grow, the company will lead the way in innovative technology and services in road construction and repair.
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