Case Studies

LEO Construction Company

Utility expertise beyond the Beltway

Northern Virginia steams along in full growth mode nowadays, its regions just outside the Washington Beltway seeing the spillover effect that anyone with a big belly experiences each morning when pulling on a pair of pants.

Well, that growth has to be enabled by electricity and communications networks and, for decades, family-owned LEO Construction Company has been assembling and servicing such complex infrastructure.

Michael Rose - LEO Construction Co.

That’s LEO as in Loudoun Employee Owned, the company being headquartered in the Loudoun County unincorporated community of Aldie, with operations in Leesburg and a Bristow office that will soon replace one in Gainesville. When it comes to the so-called dry utilities, LEO is the subterranean expert, and it’s been doing a lot of digging in the suburbs north of the nation’s capital.

Has to; Loudoun County officials anticipate their current population of around 380,000 soaring to 490,000 by 2045—and that pace has actually slowed somewhat in recent years. Meanwhile, in another LEO stronghold, the abutting Prince William County to the southeast, dwellers increased from 281,000 to 410,000 between 2000 and 2010, with another 150,000 expected to call it home come 2040.

That’s a lot of new houses, condos and apartments, either under construction or in the planning stages. All of which has public entities and private developers depending on LEO Construction to make this kind of growth possible through its expertise in infrastructure installation, custom excavation, residential and commercial lighting, and concrete and paving for everything from parking lots to tennis courts.

Head of the class

“We’re a one-stop operation for this kind of work; you could say we’re one of the few,” says Michael Rose, vice president, chief operating officer and son of one of the three brothers who founded the company in 1980 after sharpening their utility credentials elsewhere.

“Before a new neighborhood can take shape, it’ll need its own network for power, communications and lighting. We’ve been doing this kind of work for years, and our partners know they can depend on us.”

Michael Rose - LEO Construction Co.

Among those partners are Dominion Energy and NOVEC, each of which has made LEO its regional contractor for new construction and rebuilds of existing networks for the last 20 years. LEO installs hundreds of thousands of feet of conduit and cable each year for the major utilities, as well as smaller projects for developers and municipalities.

“Whether you are a developer with a full conduit system to install or a builder who just needs a small project, we have the team of professionals to get the job done the first time,” Rose tells Blueprint from LEO’s headquarters. “And as technology evolves, we stay right in stride.”

In recent years, LEO has carved another niche in serving e-commerce merchants as well as other industries in need of large data centers. Such operations need multi-circuit power grids as well as duct banks— networks of underground conduits that provide pathways and protection for electrical wiring and communication. Constructing such technologically sensitive operations is best entrusted to a specialist, and few contractors can boast LEO’s knack for staying ahead of the tech curve.

“We’re a much different operation than when my father and his brothers started LEO,” Rose observes. “We’re fortunate to have a lot of operators who have been here 30 years or more. Safety and training are instilled in our culture here, more so now than ever before. Safety-safety-safety is the word. OSHA is always coming out with new regulations to make the jobsites a safer place. Some of our old-timers remember when there were hardly any regs.”

Changing times have LEO maintaining a full-time safety staff in its work force of around 100, and holding bimonthly meetings to ensure by-the-book compliance.

“Here at LEO, we recognize that our employees are our most valuable resource,” says Rose, “and that is why we strive to invest into both their career advancement and personal well-being.”

Rose likes the idea of hiring and mentoring young people rather than filling openings with operatives who got their seasoning elsewhere. LEO has implemented extensive training programs to help give its employees the career skills they need to be successful in the ever-evolving industry.

After all, he says, there’s a certain corporate culture at LEO, in a sense it’s an extension of the family culture Rose’s father and uncles created. It’s a culture he wants to sustain. On top of all of this, LEO has put together an extensive benefits package to take care of its employees off of the job.

Family ties

Rose’s father, Thomas, remains as LEO president, and his uncle, John, as vice president, decades after co-founding the company with their late brother Donald. Each had garnered years of construction experience before opting to pool their skills under the family name, providing a homegrown intangible that Rose attributes to helping keep the company more than just competitive in an industry with no room for excuses.

Michael Rose - LEO Construction Co.

“Driving down the road, most people don’t give a second thought about the lights staying on at night,” Rose reminds. “It’s when they’re not on that we might come to mind. We don’t need that kind of attention. If something goes wrong, we’ll fix it right away.”

In its early years, LEO maintained a crew of about 40, but even during economic downturns, its reputation helped score enough work to expand hiring. The region’s demographics certainly aided the company’s cause, and with an estimated 70 percent of the world’s internet traffic traveling through northern Virginia daily, demand for LEO services should remain strong.

LEO starts the process with realistic quotes that entail all costs, and its crew guides clients through all the nuances of such complex projects. There are decades of experience and versatility to leverage.

Published on: May 7, 2018

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