Paving, plowing company feels just like family — because it is
Caddo Construction LLC specializes in driveway, subdivision and parking lot paving and plowing and approaches each job with a common-sense, fair approach.
An Associated General Contractors of Alaska member since 2007, Caddo Construction is a family-owned and -operated business, with owner Shorty Conn as superintendent; wife Jean Conn as president, running the office and plowing as needed; a daughter and her husband driving trucks; and the husband of a granddaughter driving a roller and working as a mechanic. One additional driver who isn’t a family member rounds out the crew.
“The upside is, we are family and we do take care of each other,” Jean Conn said recently when asked what’s good and bad about working so closely with family members.
Things like taking proper care of machinery or adhering to basic safety rules aren’t something
the Conn family has to worry about; their operators have been raised with an expectation of how to treat equipment and what constitutes a safe work zone.
The down side is, if anything is going on in the family, it sometimes slows things down. Around Thanksgiving, the family gathered to celebrate that holiday and also Shorty and Jean Conn’s anniversary. The planning meant a few non-essential work tasks were put on hold until after the two celebrations.
“We still had to plow snow when it came,” Jean Conn was quick to add.
Finding its niche
Caddo Construction got its start in 1995 when the Conn family bought Custom Paving. It became a certified 8a company through the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Business Development Program in 1998 and changed the name to Caddo Construction. The name is a nod to Jean Conn’s
heritage as a member of the Caddo Nation, a federally recognized tribe in central Oklahoma.
The company ventured briefly into large construction projects while participating in a mentor-protege relationship with SKW Eskimos, a general construction contractor subsidiary of Arctic Slope Regional Corp. But the Conn family found the hectic pace, larger workforce, increased liabilities and other aspects of working on big projects weren’t as rewarding as what they had been doing before: asphalt paving and snow removal. So they returned to their core strengths and found their balance restored.
“There’s a need at every level, and you need to find where you’re comfortable,” Jean Conn said.
Quality for a fair price
The effort to keep both family and quality work at the forefront of their work life pays off in the form of good working relationships.
Caddo Construction has been working for several years with Eaglewood Homeowners’ Association
in Eagle River to repave 6 miles of internal greenbelt trails. Mark McAllister, Eaglewood Homeowners’ Association’s operations manager, said the Conn family has done a great job on a project that isn’t always easy.
“Jean and Shorty are so easy to work with; they’re such nice people,” he said. “They do their best to do whatever the customer would like.”
The Eaglewood development, behind Walmart in Eagle River, has 930 homes in it. The 30-year-old subdivision is one of few in Alaska that has such an extensive internal greenbelt, McAllister said. Those trails were put in quickly when the subdivision was built, and today some of the older trails have been damaged by tree roots or are otherwise buckling.
“They’re coming apart,” Shorty Conn said of the trails.
The project to rebuild them is being done with care to make sure the trails last well into the future, and McAllister said he’s glad to have Caddo doing the rebuild. It means digging out the asphalt and digging down about a foot, removing any tree roots or other vegetation creeping into the area, then building a good base and repaving.
“They do a lot of prep work,” McAllister said. “What I like about Shorty is he’s able to do it all. Even some kind of technical things, where the grade is a half of a percent, he’s able to give us that half of a percent so we can make sure the water is draining in the right spot.”
They also do the work for a fair price, McAllister added.
“People tend to watch what you’re spending the money on. I’ve got to get it right. I have to hire the contractor that will do the job that we want them to do,” he said. “And what (Shorty and Jean) give you for a price is really fair.”
McAllister said he hopes Caddo Construction will be able to complete another $450,000 worth of trail rebuilding in the summer, which will bring the reconstruction project to about 90 percent completion.
Enjoying the outdoors
Working in Alaska can be a challenge, from broken parts leading to unexpected five-day project delays while a new part is shipped to cramming most of a summer’s work into a few short months. But the upside, Jean Conn said, is being able to work outside in some pretty spectacular country.
“That’s the nice thing about Alaska and working outdoors,” Jean Conn said.
Rindi White is editor of The Alaska Contractor.