For more than 33 years, Teletractors Inc. has been a family-owned and -operated general contracting company providing a range of services. Located in Pinedale, Wyoming, Teletractors has grown from strictly an underground telephone utility contractor to expanding its market share into excavating, road construction utility, sand and gravel and asphalt services.
Teletractors was established in 1982, when founder and president Mark Biffle decide to leverage his experience in utility services and start his own company with the help of his wife, Vicky Biffle. After working for a small, independent phone company for some time, Biffle had established enough knowledge and expertise in the industry to get the company off the ground. Since then, the company has diversified and now rarely performs telephone work.
Starting his career in construction at age 19, Biffle was drawn to the industry due to the many opportunities and different avenues one is able to take with it. “The thought of being a part of building America always intrigued me,” he says. “It’s also rewarding to still be able to see projects you’ve completed years after you’ve built them.”
Recognizing a void in asphalt services in the area, Teletractors purchased its own asphalt plant eight years ago and added the service to its portfolio. “We’ve always been able to diversify and that has really set us apart as a company,” says Biffle. “You need to have a certain niche.”
The diversification of the company has allowed Teletractors to remain local rather than chase work around the state of Wyoming. “When a decent-sized project comes into town, we want to be able to handle it,” Biffle notes. “We’ve grown over the years to be able to accommodate whatever comes along this way.”
Teletractors was recently involved in a major street rehabilitation project in Pinedale, known as Fremont Avenue Rehab. The job was a major street reconstruction with heavily involved infrastructure connected to residential areas. With curb and gutter and sidewalk work, as well as major water and sewer aspects, Teletractors worked with its subcontractors to be as efficient as possible, as the road construction affected many residents in the area. “The best thing you can do is be completely honest and transparent with the people to keep them happy,” says Biffle. “We held weekly town meetings to keep everybody informed of the progress and when they could expect it to be completed.” In addition to road construction, Teletractors has completed multiple projects involving city parks, playgrounds and athletic fields.
As a general contractor, Teletractors maintains the ability to self-perform a majority of its own work. The company will look to hire subcontractors for certain concrete services, such as curb and gutter and sidewalk work. After being in business for more than 33 years, Teletractors has established a solid network of subcontractors that it can rely on and considers a part of its team. “They are an extension of us so I have to know that they are competent and trustworthy,” says Biffle. “We recently completed a road construction job where normally we would have done the pipe work, but with the amount of work we had at the time it was more convenient to go with a sub. We used somebody we had worked with before and knew that we could put our name on their work.”
A focus on quality has enabled Teletractors to maintain a consistently steady workflow over the years, even during tough economic times. “You need to diversify and focus on quality instead of quantity,” explains Biffle. Teletractors’ diversification has come into effect as recent oil and gas activity has been generating revenue in the area and in turn, fueling county projects. This also helped the company to survive the recession without experiencing any of the economic downturn. “We’ve had few years that were slower than others but nothing really significant,” Biffle notes.
Passing the torch
As a family business, Biffle has his two sons involved with the company as well. Lance Biffle is vice president of the company and Jeff Biffle works as a paving superintendent. Biffle also has a son-in-law, Loren Racich, as an assistant hot plant manager and a daughter-in-law, Tiffany Biffle, who took over as the office manager for Mark’s wife Vicky, who was his original secretary and treasurer for the company’s first 31 years. Biffle is happy to have family members involved in the business, as the company will eventually transition into second-generation ownership. “I’m very proud of all of them,” says Biffle. “The company will be in good hands for years to come.”
While the company continues to grow, Biffle says the future will hold more of the same for Teletractors. As a company that has adapted to changes in the market over the years, Teletractors Inc. remains an example of how diversification leads to success.
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