Case Studies

Wayne Asphalt and Construction

Laying the groundwork in Fort Wayne, backed by family ownership

For more than half a century, Wayne Asphalt and Construction (WAC) has been leaving a lasting mark on Fort Wayne, Ind. The family-owned and -operated company has been laying the groundwork for the city since 1958, specializing in excavation, pipe and dirt work, stone placement and grading, asphalt paving, patching and resurfacing and pavement maintenance and striping.

“Today, many of our projects are displayed throughout Fort Wayne,” reveals Jeff Walters, president of WAC. “From driveways to highways, our team takes great pride in our work and pleasing longstanding customers.”

Passing the torch

WAC has served the residential, private, commercial, municipal and state highway sectors for more than 54 years. “The company was originally founded by the Dehner family,” notes Walters. “My family entered the business through my father’s involvement. He started at WAC as a superintendent in the fall of 1982. He worked for WAC for about seven years and the original owners approached him and another gentleman to see if they were interested in purchasing the company.”

When they didn’t have enough to purchase WAC outright, a deal was worked out allowing the company to essentially buy itself and Walter’s father assumed the debt. “After three years, the debt was paid off and they were off to the races,” recalls Walters.

While his father continued to lead WAC, Walters attended Indiana University Purdue in Fort Wayne. “I graduated with a two-year degree in civil engineering and I was about to get a job with the city of Fort Wayne, when an opening at WAC became available and I started as an estimator and have worked my way up ever since.”

Two days before his passing, Walter’s father purchased WAC outright from his partner. “He acquired the company for 0.90 cents on the dollar and signed on the dotted line; their mother and brothers Rick and Jeff became the owners,” reveals Walters. “It’s been in our family for 16 years now.”

“Our story is a unique situation because my father was offered a huge opportunity and he made the best of it,” continues Walters. “When he passed away, he had everything set up so we could step in. My brother is also involved in the company. He’s our safety manager and our human resource person.”

Leaving a mark in all markets

Today, WAC remains Fort Wayne-based with 43 employees, serving the entire metropolitan area and an hour radius of the city. “We have certainly left our mark on this area,” says Walters. “We produce our own asphalt at our mixing plant, Hanson Aggregates Quarry, just 500 feet to the north of our Ardmore Avenue office in Fort Wayne.”

WAC has grown to serve multiple markets from state highways to small residential jobs and commercial, retail and municipalities. WAC’s scope of services includes: asphalt paving, resurfacing and patching from airport runways to small residential driveways, concrete curbs and sidewalks, stone placement and grading, excavation and earth work, storm sewers and pipe work and tennis and basketball courts.

“One of our larger jobs consisted of a four-month total parking lot renovation for the Do It Best Hardware’s corporate headquarters in Fort Wayne,” notes Walters. “We do big jobs like that right down to residential driveway and also restaurants, apartment complexes and shopping centers.”

In 2013, the company added 10 new tennis courts at Homestead High school in Fort Wayne. “We closed down the old courts and reconstructed the new ones over the summer before school reopened,” details Walter.

But no matter the project or size, Walters says WAC continues to focus on the same quality standards his father set for the company early on. “Through the recession we have maintained the size of WAC, we haven’t hired anyone, but we haven’t laid anyone off either,” he reveals. “We’ve made it through the tough times with a trusted reputation and good quality. Our work speaks for itself. Unfortunately, everything in our business is won by low bid – city, county, state jobs – that’s just the name of the game, so you’re always living on the edge of trying to be low but trying to be profitable, as well.”

Walters says it’s been a matter of tightening up the ship and being more efficient and conscious. “We’ve sharpened up operations, doing everything in a timely manner and making sure we’re not wasting product,” he adds.

After 54 years, Wayne Asphalt and Construction remains a longstanding name in Fort Wayne, backed by 16 years of the same family and a reputation that is as solid as the groundwork it specializes in.

Published on: July 9, 2014

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