Case Studies

Milestone Contractors L.P.

Highways from a Company with Deep Industry Roots

As a leader in heavy highway construction, Milestone Contractors L.P. (Milestone) has paved the way for Hoosiers driving across miles of state highways. Although the company as it stands today only dates back to 1994, Milestone is an amalgamation of several family-owned businesses merged into one over the past 80 years. In turn, Milestone has the experience, equipment and personnel to take on large and demanding projects.

Scott Cornelius, vice president of Milestone’s Indianapolis office, has been with the company for nine years. Cornelius explains that Milestone is trusted as a contractor and regularly called in by municipalities, government agencies and repeat clients to complete heavy contractor work, primarily in its home state, fittingly known as The Crossroads of America.

Fully Integrated Full-service Abilities

With offices in Indianapolis, Columbus, Richmond, Bloomington and Lafayette, Milestone is strategically located to complete projects statewide while utilizing 16 hot-mix asphalt plants and two garages. “We perform most of the work associated with highway and bridge construction,” explains Cornelius of Milestone’s full-service in-house offerings.

The company’s expertise includes asphalt lay down, asphalt production, traffic control, underground utility location and installation, concrete paving, bridge building, excavation and grade preparation. For Milestone, the parts of the job typically subcontracted out to partners are milling, signing, lighting and traffic markings.

Furthermore, Milestone serves as a site-development general contractor on industrial, commercial and residential projects. In order to maintain these capabilities, Milestone employs over 1,200 people during peak season, and owns a large fleet of construction equipment.

The company garners work through competitive bidding, and also boasts a number of clients that it works for repeatedly with a solid reputation built on safety, quality and customer service. According to Cornelius, high-quality work is the result of certified technicians, plants and laboratories. Therefore, Milestone aims to offer superior product while delivering on its promise of incredible customer service.

In the heavy construction industry, safety is of utmost importance. Milestone trains employees thoroughly and encourages internal company dialogue, following what it terms a near miss, or potentially hazardous situation, which has turned into a lesson to learn from. A safe production culture at Milestone is defined by zero injuries.

The Makings for Big Success

It all started in 1937 with Meshberger Stone in Columbus, and 32 years down the line the framework for Milestone was established in Contractors United Inc. (CUI), a company formed from the acquisition of paving and excavation companies.

In the 1970s CUI underwent significant growth, and gained ground statewide. The early 1990s brought the addition of three longtime local construction companies – Astro Paving, LeBrec and Fauber – to CUI and the entities became Milestone’s current designation in 1994.

Today, Milestone relies on internal excellent teams as it continually strives to improve its processes and evolve as a company. Process development involves everyone in the company, with an entirely open-door policy; any employee, no matter how far down the ranks, can initiate change.

Ongoing improvements to procedures and processes form company best practices to ensure uniform quality at Milestone; codes of conduct help employees transition from one project to another, train new employees and grow professionally.

Ahead of Time and Under Budget

A quintessential example of the type of work completed by Milestone is the I-65/ I-70 South Split project it completed in fall 2013. “It was a very high-profile project in the area,” explains Cornelius of the project consisting of a half-mile of pavement beneath seven bridges and located on the east side of downtown Indianapolis. Due to repeated bridge strikes from off-route trucks with oversize and unsecure loads, it was necessary for the Indianapolis Department of Transportation (IND.O.T.) to increase bridge clearance.

The highly trafficked interstate highway had to be closed, and it was necessary to minimize the closure time. Through competitive bidding IND.O.T. brought in Milestone as a trusted partner to complete the work in a short timeframe, knowing the company was capable. With a $60,000-per-day penalty and incentive for early completion, as well, Milestone shaved more than two weeks off its aggressive 59-day schedule and delivered the project in mid-October instead of early November. Furthermore, and duly impressive, Milestone finished the project under the already low $12.4-million budget.

“We’re prepared to respond to the market,” says Cornelius of future work. “We deal with cyclical volume change on a steady basis. There are peaks and valleys that we have to contend with.”

After a dip during the recession, the last few years have been fairly flat with a slight uptick expected. “We would love to see a more uniform revenue stream,” says Cornelius, yet he knows the nature of the industry, with 20 years spent working for IND.O.T. “But, unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way in this business,” he continues.

Rooted in the Industry and Community

As an entity with a wealth of well-established tradesmen and formed from companies with a history of multigenerational family ownership, Milestone is intimately involved in its community and industry.

As for industry involvement, Milestone holds memberships at the national, state and local levels, including membership in the National Asphalt Pavement Associations, the National Associated General Contractors, Indiana Constructors Inc., as well as the National Society of Professional Engineers. Statewide, the company has affiliations with all chambers of commerce and economic development organizations within its market.

On top of that, Milestone encourages its employees to be active in organizations of their choice and also active in giving back to the communities that are the arenas which contain the company’s success. Community involvement and charitable giving benefit The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, March of Dimes, Ronald McDonald House and Riley Children’s Foundation, among others.

It is no wonder why the awards pour in; notable awards include the 2011 ICACI Award for Outstanding Achievement in Concrete and recognition as one of the 25 Best Places to Work in Indiana in 2010. It is a long road in the industry that has shaped what the company is today. Milestone Contractors L.P. is a company truly built by, and building for, Indiana.

Published on: August 5, 2014

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