Case Studies

King Enterprise Group: A Kingdom of Its Own

  • Written by: King Enterprise Group: A Kingdom of Its Own
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King Enterprise Group (KEG) is a civil contractor operating out of McPherson, Kan., offering a quality of services fit for a king. KEG was built for a king, by a King. The King family has been in the construction business for over a century, beginning with a bridge-building company that patriarch Ezra King founded in 1912.

Ezra’s sons continued the tradition throughout the mid-century. Clifford King, Ezra’s son, founded KEG in 1980 primarily as a flatwork concrete contractor. Down the road Clifford’s sons, Mike and Doug, purchased KEG, adding a touch of their own by incorporating the company a few years later. The King team has since developed the family business into one of Kansas’ leading heavy industrial construction firms.

“Today we are primarily a heavy civil contractor for the oil and gas industry,” says Tom Saffel, vice president and COO of KEG. “Central Kansas is our major geographical focus. We’re located along a major oil and gas corridor and the underground formation here is ideal for underground oil and gas storage. We’re one of the more established contractors in our area and we have enjoyed sustained growth over the last several years.”

As the general contractor on many projects in the region, KEG relies heavily on a network of subcontractors. “We self-perform dirt work and excavation, concrete, forming, rebar, concrete placement, some steel erection and pre-engineered metal buildings,” says Saffel. “We are representatives for A&S Building Systems, out of Tennessee, and we often erect the structures ourselves. We also self-perform some millwork, interior work and hardware. We subcontract trades like electrical, plumbing, mechanical, drywall and ceilings, steel fabrication and painting.”

That is not the only relationship on which the company relies. KEG has longstanding relationships with several regional contractors and owner facilities as well. “Maintaining quality relationships with our vendors, and subcontractors, as well as our owners and clients is key for us,” explains Saffel. “That is what drives us to grow and improve.”

Building a Broad Portfolio

KEG is involved with several aspects of construction for the oil and gas industry, constructing tank foundations and containment areas, control facilities and concrete work of all types. “We’re expanding with some of our existing clients across a wider portion of their network,” says Saffel. “We’re doing quite a few propane, liquid and natural gas facilities where we’re taking charge of the civil work. We’ve started doing a lot more tank foundations and similar projects in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska and North Dakota.

The company is also helping many facilities upgrade to meet changing industry standards. “The most interesting projects we’ve had lately are blast-resistant control buildings,” elaborates Saffel. “Regulation changes have led to a need to protect essential personnel that work in an environment where blast potentials are high. Blast-resistant structures often require a lot of concrete and structural elements you wouldn’t normally see in a commercial building. They bring a new set of challenges to overcome and my team loves that.”

Adapting to Market Changes

Regionally, Saffel says the industry has remained fairly stable throughout the recession. KEG and its competitors, however, have adapted the way to do business in order to offer better value and stability to clients, even if it means shaking up bidding models.

“We used to work almost exclusively on a time and material basis,” explains Saffel. “But owners and clients have shifted more toward lump sum, competitive bidding. We’ve had to make big changes to our structure as a company, and that’s been a challenge. When you perform T&M work there is not a lot of data captured that can enable you to see historical costs, performance metrics like productivity and labor trends and the like.”

The competitive bidding method benefits clients, and KEG must make changes to ease through the transition. “We’re using new estimating and project management systems, as well as different means of information gathering,” elaborates Saffel. “These efforts help us to make better decisions in the process. We’ve been pretty successful so far with a well-managed transition.”

As Saffel and his staff ease into a new way of doing business, the economy is starting to make a gradual turnaround in the region. “Our market is strong, as it has been, but it’s consumer and regulation driven,” explains Saffel. “Those regulations bring additional cost and need for changes to the facilities that we work in. There’s still a demand for this type of energy, which keeps the industry stable, and that’s very fortunate for us. Our region recovers later than the rest of the country but, fortunately, our industry wasn’t hit quite as hard as some industries in other parts of the country. It’s kind of a double-edged sword.”

KEG continues to deliver quality service with a positive philosophy. The company stands on six core values: authenticity, accountability, excellence, teamwork, improvement and creativity. Such values ensure that KEG delivers on its projects, leaving lasting impressions on clients and building long-term relationships. These continued relationships are helping KEG to expand throughout the country. Saffel says the company is already branching out with crews travelling to other states for projects with repeat clients, but eventually he would like to see additional locations closer to new markets.

The business continues to lead the local market in oil industry construction and expansion will help the team continue to diversify services and offer innovative solutions to constantly changing regulations. The company’s clients are satisfied, and a successful portfolio has been the team’s greatest marketing tool. King Enterprise Group embraces quality leadership, teamwork and working toward a common goal of creative excellence.

Published on: June 29, 2013

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