James Construction Group
After Hurricane Katrina destroyed the Gulf Coast, James Construction Group (JCG) helped private and public clients dig out of the ruins and rebuild infrastructure. Through the quality of JCG’s work, it has become one of the region’s largest and most respected heavy construction companies. The company has operated under its current name for eight years, but has been in existence for close to 25 years.
The company is headquartered in Baton Rouge, La., and is managed by Danny Hester, president of JCG. The company has an office branch in Ruston, La., Mulberry, Fla., as well as three in Texas, which are located in the cities of Belton, Houston and Pasadena. Hester says that the company currently employs between 1,800 and 2,000 employees and grossed over $430 million in sales in 2010.
JCG’s crews have successfully completed projects spanning from Texas to North Carolina. According to Hester, the company’s staff is one of its biggest assets which sets JCG apart from its competitors. “We are dynamic, diverse and young, and there’s nothing static here. We recruit the best in the industry which allows us to look at new and innovative ways of doing work.”
Serving Clients Through Four Divisions
The company offers its clients a wide variety of services through its four divisions. The company’s heavy civil division provides primarily governmental clients heavy civil and highway construction services. JCG’s industrial division services mainly private clients, providing all types of civil and process mechanical construction. The company’s infrastructure and maintenance division offers clients mining support services, plant site development, drainage system installation, landfill construction, earthwork and gypsum stack maintenance. Hester adds that the company’s infrastructure and maintenance division has also developed a niche for itself in Florida’s phosphate industry.
Hester continues to note that the economic downturn has hurt a lot of companies in the construction industry, but JCG’s presence in multiple states has helped the company flourish. “One of the beliefs that we have acted upon from day one is that in order to grow, we need to expand geographically, and that’s helping us right now. The Louisiana construction industry had a big surge in business after Katrina, but it has tightened back up again. Our Texas operations however, are doing very well with all facets of our business there seeing an uptick. Construction is a cyclical industry, but our company is in good shape. We have a large backlog of business, and we’re very profitable.”
To ensure that projects keep coming in, Hester has stayed abreast of current trends in the industry. JCG was also a regional leader in introducing the design-build concept to Louisiana. “We were awarded and are currently performing the first two design-build jobs for the state of Louisiana. We’ve also developed close relationships with large engineering companies, so we can help each other [get new work].”
Consistent High-Profile Projects
Over the years, JCG has worked on a number of high-profile projects. Hester proudly points out that one of his company’s most successful projects incorporated the seamless cooperation of all of JCG’s divisions. “We were the prime site developer on Shintech’s 300-acre PVC plant in Plaquemine, La. We had about $57 million in contracts on that project. Heavy civil did the roads and the paving, infrastructure and maintenance did all of the site work and the industrial division performed the civil and mechanical portions of the plant.”
The company worked closely with an engineering company to take a novel approach to complete a project in southeast Louisiana. “We were contracted by the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development to build an elevated roadway from Leeville to Port Fourchon, a distance of seven miles above pristine wetlands, so we couldn’t build from the ground. We used a temporary steel trestle to stage our cranes and other equipment. They never touched the environmentally sensitive wetlands below.”
Hester also says that JCG’s heavy civil division completed a unique project in central Texas. The company was awarded a $27 million contract from the Texas Department of Transportation to construct a four-lane divided highway which included the demolition, via explosives and reconstruction of a 3,200-pound bridge.
Familiar Practices Lead to Victory
One of the common practices found in nearly all successful construction companies is a strict adherence to safety and, according to Hester, it’s extremely important at JCG as well. The company’s safety program has received numerous awards over the years including: the National Platinum STEP award from ABC for safety training and evaluation, the ABC 2006 National Safety Award for Heavy and Civil Engineering Construction and a 2010 Excellence in Safety Leadership and Performance Gold Award from the Greater Baton Rouge Industry Alliance for 500,000 to one million hours worked at a local plant.
Whether it’s responding to communities in need that have been devastated by a natural disaster or cooperatively planning projects with local engineering firms, JCG stays true to its philosophy of safety and quality, which has made James Construction Group one of the U.S. Gulf Coast’s largest and most successful heavy construction companies.
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