Phillips Hardy Inc.
What started as Phillips Grading and Construction, founded by Wyatt and Kathy Phillips, has evolved into an organization with a multi-state reach. In 2007, Lee Hardy brought his construction management experience to the Phillips’ and together the trio formed Phillips Hardy Inc. Since its inception, Phillips Hardy has developed into a leading general contractor in the Midwest. With offices in Columbia and Boonville, Missouri, Phillips Hardy specializes in heavy construction such as bridge, road and utility work and is licensed in Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas, Iowa and Illinois.
Hardy’s career started with his family’s general contracting business, Hardy’s Construction Inc., where he was a fourth-generation family member and vice president for 13 years. After a merger acquisition with Hardy’s Construction Inc. and Emery Sapp & Sons, Hardy remained with the company for five years, supporting the company’s estimating and project management divisions as a manager and consultant. “Kathy and Wyatt were old family friends of mine so when my contract ran out we rekindled our relationship and started Phillips Hardy,” says Hardy. “Phillips Grading and Construction was actually a company with which my family’s business subcontracted work, so we had already established a working relationship as well.”
Core values create a strong foundation
When considering a partnership with the Phillips’, Hardy says he felt completely comfortable entering into a business relationship with the couple due to their core values. “Many times family partnerships work because of trust and many times they don’t work because of philosophies,” Hardy explains. “The Phillips’ are people who are not my family, who I still knew I could trust simply because of the type of people they are. I cannot overstate how strong their core values are.”
Remaining open minded and nimble in the marketplace has set Phillips Hardy apart from the competition. In its relatively short existence, the company has diversified its services from when it first began as a grading and utilities operation. As it progressed, the company expanded its market share into reinforced concrete blocks (RCB) and bridge construction. The company’s method of diversification was also a factor in Phillips Hardy experiencing growth through the recession while many other companies went out of business. “We invest in technology and keep up to date with the latest innovations,” says Hardy. “Also, we maintain a diverse portfolio of owners that we typically perform work for.”
With 130 under its employ, Phillips Hardy prides itself on the people who are out in the field representing the company every day. With a dwindling market of qualified workers in the industry, Phillips Hardy recognizes the value of the skilled workforce it maintains. By focusing on the individual rather than just a resume, Phillips Hardy is able to determine if someone is the right fit. “It can be easy to go out and find the work and acquire the equipment, but your biggest asset is the people you have working for you,” says Hardy. “We have an amazing group of people who take pride in what they do and have years of experience doing it.”
A diverse portfolio
Phillips Hardy is currently involved in an environmental project with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The project involves constructing a new channel through an oxbow of the Missouri River. The channel is nearly 2 miles in length and includes 2 million cubic yards in materials. The purpose of the channel is to create a pathway for sturgeon to swim upstream to spawn. “It’s exciting for us because we think of ourselves as a company that builds for the future,” says Hardy. “A big part of that future is the environmental aspect.”
In 2007, Phillips Hardy became involved in a project with KTU Constructors called Safe and Sounds Bridges. As the first of its kind in the country, the job was a design-build bridge replacement pilot project implemented by the Missouri Department of Transportation. The end goal of the job was to replace 554 bridge structures within a five-year period. As a subcontractor in the venture, Phillips Hardy was involved in the construction of nearly 100 of the bridges in the project. “That was really a catalyst for Phillips Hardy to diversify into bridge construction,” says Hardy. “I was really proud of the way that venture unfolded and the success that we had.”
Although the structures were not extremely complex, the entire job presented management challenges for the company due to the timeframes involved. “Eventually, we were opening one bridge per week,” Hardy recalls. “It was really an exciting time for us. It came right in the middle of the recession and helped us to grow through those hard times.”
In recent years, Phillips Hardy has experienced annual growth rates near 10 percent. Hardy expects this growth to continue as it broadens its market share and continues to diversify. The company was recently awarded its first two paving contracts and is currently investing in all resources needed to facilitate this next phase of diversification. “We’ll continue to grow until it’s not beneficial to us and the people we work with,” he says. While the company looks to diversify, Phillips Hardy Inc. will remain committed to the core values it has followed, which have created the path for success.
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