Case Studies

Patterson & Wilder Construction Company

Leading Pipeline Construction Services
  • Written by: Patterson & Wilder Construction Company
  • Produced by: Patterson & Wilder Construction Company
  • Estimated reading time: 4 mins

Patterson & Wilder Construction Company (PWC), incorporated in 1962, is a family-owned and -operated pipeline construction business based in Pelham, Ala. Today the PWC team operates out of several locations, with a field operations office in Newton Grove, N.C., and other managing locations in North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Florida. The company works nationwide, constructing welded steel and polyethylene pipeline systems for the oil and gas industry. Gray Lewis, vice president of PWC, has been working with the business since 1996 under his stepfather, Frank Patterson, president of PWC.

“Frank’s father, Grady Patterson, is the original co-founder,” Gray explains. “My degree is in engineering, but before this I was working in the textile industry. Frank brought me into the construction business 17 years ago to help the company improve its bidding and estimating. But even though it’s a different industry, I’ve been able to apply a lot of the same skills and knowledge as an engineer.”

An Ever-evolving Business

In the early days, PWC worked for municipalities performing water and sewer work. “But for the last 45 years, we have been focused on gas and oil pipeline work,” explains Gray. “Around 90 percent of our work is welded steel pipeline construction. We work nationwide, and we have licenses to operate in all states that have a licensing program. Currently our work is concentrated in the Southeast and Northeast regions, but we can build pipelines anywhere in the United States. In the past we have worked as far away as Washington, Texas and Wyoming.”

In order to maintain such an extensive footprint, PWC offers start-to-finish services. “A majority of our pipeline projects involve everything from clearing to pipeline completion and final restoration of the ground,” says Gray. “We handle most everything ourselves. Our staff ranges from 50 to 400 people, although sometimes we will hire a subcontractor for clearing, road bores and directional drills. We try to keep the number of subcontractors limited. We often work with subcontractors we have worked with in the past; some make the grade and some don’t.”

As many companies find, there are many challenges in sustaining a business that relies on others. However, it is the feeling of success that keeps the team at PWC coming back for more, year after year. “Every project is unique and has its own challenges,” Gray continues.

Of course, the big success stories make it all worthwhile. “For example, we just completed a 36-inch steel, horizontal directional drill [HDD] crossing in Portsmouth, Va.,” Gray says. “They are building a new traffic tunnel and our portion was relocating the water line. This was a very sensitive operation, and we had to really focus on quality control, and extra care with handling due to the internal and external pipe coatings. We took care of all of the pipe fabrication, coating, testing and support. The length of the crossing was 4,600 feet long, and took a few months to complete. We moved in just before Christmas and just wrapped at the end of March.”

Making Connections

PWC is affiliated with several unions and trade organizations, all of which help Gray and his team maintain a large professional network. “Two major organizations we are involved with are National Utilities Contractors Association [NUCA] and the Distribution Contractors Association [DCA],” he says. “For me, personally, being involved and engaged with the other NUCA members offers great educational opportunities. I learn a lot from them, and there is a lot of value I get going to conferences. We learn about new regulations, new business methods and new technologies. When we have these networks with other companies in the associations, it makes it easy to work out new business partnerships. We also have a strong contingency of associate members that make up our vendors and suppliers.”

PWC also maintains strong partnerships with unions, working with the Pipeliners United Association Local 798, the International Union for Operating Engineers, as well as the Laborers’ International Union of North America. These partnerships offer a direct line to local chapters. When PWC is on jobs far from the office, Gray can rely on quality workmanship through local unions.

In-house, Gray says, “I’m sure everyone says it, but I truly think we have the best people in the business. The folks that work for us are genuinely the best quality people in the construction industry. We have people who care about their work they perform and are very careful to watch out for safety and quality. We have a strong safety program, and all of our employees are involved.”

Attention to detail, a dedication to safety and a strong network of relationships ensure PWC stays ahead of the game. Gray says his plan for the future is to continue growing. “In my group, we have been watching and working diligently on our sales and development efforts over the last few years,” he explains. “We needed more volume so we started working hard to increase our sales. You’re not going to get work without following up on opportunities.” Patterson & Wilder Construction Company will continue to work aggressively to expand its market reach, while employing safe, high-tech solutions to build pipelines.

For more information about Patterson & Wilder Construction Company, please visit:

Published on: July 8, 2013

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