- Written by: SBBI Inc.
- Produced by: SBBI Inc.
- Estimated reading time: 5 mins
For over 33 years SBBI Inc. (SBBI) has provided the highest level of construction services for federal government-sponsored projects. SBBI has worked with numerous government sectors, including the Department of Defense, the National Park Service, the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Arizona-based general contractor continues to pride itself on creativity, productivity and ingenuity, today.
Founded in 1980, SBBI began its first job on a $1.2 million apartment complex. In 1986 SBBI completed its first government HUD job at a retirement complex in Ville Platte, La. The company now operates primarily as a federal contractor serving the southern United States, spanning Georgia to California.
After over three decades of experience, SBBI has developed a thorough knowledge of and expertise in the civil engineering and construction industry. “We’ve probably done close to 1,200 jobs,” shares Deborah Fain, president of SBBI. “We function mainly in heavy civil construction: moving earth, building dams. We do it all; long-term contracts, as well as short-term jobs.”
Unlike many companies in the industry, SBBI is under the ownership of a woman. Fain carries over 35 years of business experience into her leadership position at SBBI. “I used to run software and hardware companies,” recalls Fain. “I’ve also worked in healthcare, though I started in interior design and construction. I’ve learned a lot about different industries.”
SBBI is not only run by a woman, but is also minority owned. In 2009 SBBI was ranked by Hispanic Business Magazine as No. 9 out of the 100 fastest growing Hispanic companies. Then, in 2012, Fain was named HubZone Owner of the Year.
Fain believes her company is only as good as its people. “We have a team of professionals who’ve been working here for a long time,” explains Fain. “We try to hire locally to stimulate the economy. And everyone at SBBI knows that, above all, we place safety first. We have the longevity and accolades to prove it.” Fain goes on to detail that, in 2009, SBBI received the Operation Safety Reward by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Fain’s employees aren’t afraid of a challenge, either. “They like the really weird jobs that are hard to figure out,” jokes Fain. “We have a creative team. If it’s a logistics problem or something hard for a mainstream contractor to perform, we’ll go after it.” SBBI currently employs about 65 individuals, but that number can exceed 200 depending on the size and scope of the company’s current projects.
SBBI provides its target market, the United States government, with infrastructure services from Georgia to California, and from Colorado to the border dividing the United States and Mexico. The company focuses on best value versus lowest price, and Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ-long-term) projects. To date, SBBI has completed over 20 IDIQ jobs.
“We do lots of work on military bases and have done a lot of border fencing,” states Fain. “We’ve done highway construction on Indian reservations and levy work on the Rio Grand; our portfolio varies quite a bit.” SBBI self-performs approximately 60 percent of work on each project, while subcontracting out about 40 percent on jobs, which can include dirt excavation, concrete culverts, vertical construction, plumbing, mechanical and electrical.
Building relationships with subcontractors along with clients is a critical part of SBBI’s business. “We have trusted relationships, but we’re always looking to build more, especially with suppliers,” shares Fain. “This has helped us expand the ground we cover. In the past, we didn’t go beyond eastern Texas. Now we go coast to coast.”
A vital component of management effectiveness on any federal project is the trust and confidence SBBI fosters with government representatives. The ability to work in partnership with contracting and field representatives substantially increases the company’s effectiveness in delivering consistently high-quality results.
Blue River Fish Barrier Project
One of SBBI’s most recent, and challenging, jobs involved a partnership with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (USBR). The Blue River Fish Barrier site, located in Clifton, Ariz., broke ground in September 2011 and reached completion in June 2012. The $10.8 million site consisted of 2.63 million acres of Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest near the San Francisco and Blue Rivers.
The USBR contracted SBBI to build a fish barrier, preventing predatory fish species (channel catfish, carp and flathead minnows) from crossing over into the Blue River. The barrier allows native fish (round tail chub, spike dace, loach minnow and long fin dace) to rebuild damaged populations without the influence of invasive species.
SBBI was responsible for the removal of underground water up to 40-feet below the existing river bed and the diversion of the Blue River. The job required 40,000 cubic yards (cy) of excavation, placement of 25,000 cy of backfill, placement of 7,000 cy of RCC roller compacted concrete and placement of 500 cy of structural concrete, including steel reinforcement, drilling 2-inch holes eight-feet deep for placement of dowel anchors into surrounding rock formations. SBBI imported and maintained an on-site crushing plant, two screening plants, wash plant and concrete batch plant for production of all the concrete materials.
The Blue River site presented many challenges, such as navigating site access, staging area, flooding, water diversion, filtration, housing, food and water safety and extreme weather issues. Site access was SBBI’s biggest battle.
There was no ground access to the project site; all equipment, materials and personnel had to be airlifted to and from the project site. SBBI’s in-house mechanics dismantled equipment into pieces not exceeding 17,000 pounds, then airlifted those items to the project site aboard helicopters and reassembled them at the project site. The entire concrete plant operation was set up on location, ensuring materials could be tested and approved by engineers. SBBI’s on-site batch plant manufactured concrete products to meet the strict specifications of the USBR.
SBBI’s ability to perform challenging government projects has given the company an advantage in a struggling economy. “Although the government has put a lot of money into other things, and not as much into construction projects as they used to, it’s still at operational, and for us an opportunity,” details Fain.
The firm has made improvements in preconstruction technology and estimating in order to save money. “Basically we’re trying to be smarter at what we do,” explains Fain. “We want to be sure we’re doing it right the first time.”
SBBI has bids in south Texas and heavy-duty dirt work in the Rio Grande area on the horizon. “We’re going to bid on more work in Northern California and tackle some airfield projects in Arizona,” shares Fain. SBBI Inc. continues to achieve success in an unstable economy by providing quality services to a target market and undertaking projects other companies shy away from.
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