Case Studies

King Construction Inc.

Bringing leading infrastructure maintenance and repair to municipal clients across Connecticut

Since 1964 King Construction Inc. has been serving the Connecticut market as a leading infrastructure contractor. Specializing in road, water, utility and sewer work, King Construction services four of Connecticut’s six counties from its headquarters in Bloomfield.

King Construction was founded by John “Jack” King, a construction industry professional who set out to start his own company in the mid-60s. Today, the family-owned and –operated construction company is still run by King, with his son Jon serving as assistant vice president.

King Construction Inc.

“I started out on the family farm and moved up into the construction industry helping out one of the field carpenters,” recalls Jon. “After that I moved into operating machinery and driving trucks then became a foreman and superintendent.”

Having worked at practically every level of the business, Jon knows King Construction from the inside-out. This level of firsthand experience gives the vice president a unique insight on the company’s day-to-day and allows him to better understand challenges and concerns from an employee’s point of view.

While King Construction does occasionally perform work for private sector clients, a vast majority of the company’s business comes from local and state government organizations such as the Connecticut Department of Transportation.

These projects typically involve road reconstruction, with King being called in to replace underground drainage lines that lack the necessary capacity.

In the slower winter season King keeps busy with snow plowing and removal services.

Building a legacy

In the construction boom of the late 80s, King Construction employed as many as 60 workers and had anywhere between three to five projects going at any given time. While King managed to survive the recent economic recession, the company’s current workforce hovers somewhere around a third of where it once was and it’s rare to have more than three projects underway at once.

“The state work was able to keep us busy into the early 2000s, but with the recession, the money that owners have from the state has to do infrastructure repairs has diminished quite a bit,” says Jon. “The amount of work out there is now about half of what it used to be with the same amount of contractors, so our volume has gone down quite a bit.”

This is especially frustrating for Jon, who has seen a number of experienced, qualified employees leave the company in lean years. “When you lose a key employee, they’re difficult to replace. When times are booming you can definitely entice them to stay because of the wages, but when times are tougher you can’t provide as many benefits,” he says.

Despite recent economic realities, King has been able to retain some of its most experienced employees, with several employees reaching their 30th or even 40th anniversary with the company. “When they start with us they tend to stay with us,” says Jon. “We like to think it’s because of the way we treat our employees.”

Looking down the road

King Construction has completed a number of unique projects throughout the years, including one job in a Connecticut swamp back in 2012 that required the company to build a temporary access road to reach a sewer pipe. “That was a little different but in the end, it turned out really nice,” he says.

Today, King’s typically projects are a little more run of the mill. On a recent job in Windsor, Connecticut, King did “a little bit of everything,” according to Jon, installing drainage and water pipes, completely redoing the roadway and sidewalks, installing a roundabout and doing some basic streetscaping.

“We’re getting some nice recommendations and compliments because of that from the town, state and the individuals we worked with on that project,” says Jon.

In the early 2000s, King completed a road widening project on Route 2 in Stonington, Connecticut. Located on a busy road that leads to Rhode Island’s beaches, the project stands out in Jon’s mind due to the high level of exposure it provided. “I enjoyed that aspect of it — that it was one of the main thoroughfares,” he says.

The company self-performs a majority of its own work, but subcontracts out pavement markings, electrical and signal work to a team of trusted, time-tested subcontractors. “We like to be able to do town projects where we can do them from start to finish, but with state projects there are so many different aspects to cover,” says John.

While Jon is looking to grow the business, it likely won’t be through out-of-state expansion. Two nearby states, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, both restrict out-of-state contractors, making it difficult to break into those nearby markets without setting up a satellite office. “Connecticut is a very friendly state, but those surrounding states don’t allow the same comforts for out-of-state contractors,” he says.

When things do eventually pick up again Jon will be ready, though he’s not holding his breath. “I think the economic recovery was a little bit overexaggerated. Hopefully in the next two years we can see a better turnaround because it seems like when the construction industry is doing well, America is doing well,” he says.

Having established a solid reputation in the Connecticut infrastructure contracting market over the last 52 years, Jon King and the team at King Construction Inc. will work hard to carry that legacy on into the future.

Published on: November 21, 2016

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