Colas USA Preps for Prime
BY Sandy Lender
In the 1960s, the French company Colas started operations in the North American asphalt marketplace in Canada. Starting with the acquisition of Barrett Paving Materials in 1979, Colas USA, with headquarters based in New Jersey, became a part of the worldwide leader in transportation infrastructure construction and maintenance. Over the years, Colas USA has welcomed a number of infrastructure professionals into the family (See sidebar on page xx).
With the formation in 2021 of a new U.S. subsidiary—Colas Construction USA Inc. (CCUSA)—Colas USA is now comprised of 37 companies throughout the United States. Brian White, vice president of human resources for Colas USA, shared: “During the peak of our construction season, we employ approximately 5,500 people in the areas in which we operate, while in our off season we employ approximately 4,000.”
Those areas are, as Vice President of Operations Dustin Darby put it, everywhere. This, he explained, keeps the overall company from being pigeon-holed as a regional contractor. Instead, CCUSA can be seen as the large, national-level prime contractor that the depth of companies allows it to be. “We’re already one of the largest materials suppliers in the country,” Darby said. “We’re highly vertically integrated already. We have the horsepower, manpower and expertise to take on national-level projects.”
Curtis Weltz, president of CCUSA, said, “The Colas USA family is comprised of 37 companies regionalized under seven subsidiaries; however, our organization operates as one large entity as well. By combining the resources, experience and vertical integration of our seven regional subsidiaries, CCUSA allows Colas to better serve our clients and increase our overall market share within the group.”
Taking on national-level projects takes teamwork, which the Colas template has in place. “CCUSA was developed to serve as the prime contracting vehicle for large projects, federal projects, and the expansion of both our mining support and construction activities within the United States,” said Thierry Le Roch’, president and CEO of Colas USA. “It is our vision that CCUSA will work directly with each regional subsidiary to develop proposals and execute contracts. Through CCUSA, we are confident that our companies will work in a more collective way and provide the best product possible for our current and future clients.”
The vision Le Roch’ references above includes communication among the subsidiaries and headquarters. Let’s use the company’s safety goals as an example.
“To communicate and effectively manage safety across our organization, we train our employees to be effective safety leaders and equip them with the right tools. Two examples of the tools that we use at Colas USA are Goal Zero and a web-based safety management system.” (See sidebar on page xx.)
“Safety is at the core of everything we do within the Colas Group—not just within the United States, but throughout our global organization. Through our Goal Zero program—the Colas USA safety culture—we continuously improve our health and safety performance. Although our companies are in geographically diverse markets, we inherently have the same risks and operational hazards. By standardizing our safety training, we see continuous improvement through safe work practices.”
Entrepreneurship is one of Colas Group’s core values and leadership encourages its employees to come up with new products and efficient methods of getting the job done.
“Colas is an innovative company by nature,” Darby said. “In fact, the name Colas is derived from combining the words cold and asphalt. Colas pioneered and developed the formula for cold asphalt more than 100 years ago, and since has developed hundreds more innovative products and processes to improve the safety and longevity of infrastructure on a global scale. Colas encourages free thought and innovation, and rewards personal initiative.”
Cold + asphalt = Colas
Although Colas consists of seven decentralized, regional entities, the corporate entity offers centralized support. “Through strong leadership at the corporate level and the tremendous expertise of Colas Solutions (quality and technical support), Colas ISS (technology), and now the support of CCUSA at the national level, Colas ensures consistent performance across each of our business units.”
Through the decentralization, Colas USA gets to use the expertise of unique companies. “When you travel through our regional subsidiaries, you will notice that each company fosters its own company culture, which is something that we encourage and has allowed us to maintain a high level of success. Encouraging entrepreneurship within Colas USA has encouraged our employees to understand that they are our greatest resource—in turn, allows our teams to learn from and encourage one another in order to grow together.”
As CCUSA grows, Weltz sees the partnerships among the regions as vital. “One of the most important things our executives can do is continuously support the vision as it’s developed and ensure that the synergies between CCUSA and our regional operations are continuously identified and applied. Additionally, it’s important that we position CCUSA to add value to the Colas Group and operate as the preferred partner for our regional subsidiaries by being naturally in line with Colas’ reputation for quality and ethics.”
Weltz sees that synergy as exciting with the 2021 construction season. “The most exciting aspect is the synergy that we hope to create amongst our subsidiaries,” Weltz said. “As we develop this entity ‘off the heels’ of our already successful subsidiaries, we hope to garner our fair share of a market that we do not compete in today.”
“The creation of CCUSA allows the Colas Group to better serve our clients by combining the experience, expertise and capabilities of our existing regional companies and applying them at a national level,” Darby said. “We take great pride in the companies that operate under the Colas USA banner. Each regional subsidiary is a leader in their markets, and the collective experience of the group has allowed us to continue to strengthen. Historically, our company has grown through acquisitions and as we continue to grow, we will work to replicate the model that has led to the success and stability that Colas is known for.”
Colas USA, New Jersey, founded in 1979, has eight U.S. subsidiaries as of press time.
Barrett Industries Corporation, a Colas company, Roseland, New Jersey, founded by Samuel E. Barrett, serves the airport, contractors, government, municipalities and private companies. Reach them at (973) 533-1001 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Branscome Inc., a Colas company, Williamsburg, Virginia, has been building Virginia’s infrastructure since 1956. They offer services from excavation and site work to underground utilities and asphalt paving, as well as construction materials supply. Reach them at (757) 229-2504.
Colaska, Anchorage, was known as South East Alaska Construction when it joined the Colas USA family of companies in 1999. Additional companies have joined to grow Colaska into a robust roadbuilder in the state, but it includes well-known subsidiaries Quality Asphalt Paving, Emulsion Products, Exclusive Paving, and more. Reach them at (907) 273-1000 or email@example.com.
Delta Companies Inc., a Colas company, Cape Girardeau, Missouri, began in 1920 when Edward F. Regenhardt and William H. Harrison formed a partnership to build roads and crush rock. Today Delta Companies is a heavy highway contractor, paving contractor and construction materials producer with locations in Missouri, Illinois and Arkansas. Reach them at (573) 334-5261 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reeves Construction Co., a Colas company, Duncan, South Carolina, began as a small contractor in Americus, Georgia. Now it includes Sloan Construction in South Carolina, RB Baker in Georgia and Florida, and Reeves Construction in Georgia for heavy construction, underground utilities, asphalt paving, and materials supply. Reach them at (864) 416-0200.
Simon, a Colas company, Cheyenne, Wyoming, was founded by James E. Simon in 1954. He grew the company to include asphalt work and an asphalt plant in North Platte, Nebraska, among other divisions. Reach them at (307) 635-9005.
Sully-Miller Contracting Co., a Colas company, Brea, California, started with quality paving and grading operations clear back in 1923 when G.W. Sully and Earl B. Miller started it up. Their crews perform work in the industries of airports, energy and mining, military and federal, rail and intermodal, roads and highways, seaports, and specialty projects. Reach them at (714) 578-9600 or email@example.com.
Colas Construction USA Inc., headquartered in New Jersey, is strategically staffed to provide clients with the expertise of seven regional U.S. subsidiaries listed above. It performs work in the industries of private, public, federal and mining. Reach them at (973) 290-9082 or firstname.lastname@example.org.