A good business plan and a strong line-up of services can go a long way in a good economy, but when times are tough it might not be enough. Mark Bottorff says it's an emphasis on quality and customer relations that keeps his company successful. It also helped Bottorff Construction win Commercial Concrete Flatwork Project of the Year in 2008 from the Concrete Promotional Group of Kansas City.
Bottorff Construction is a commercial concrete contractor in Atchison, Kan., focusing on wall forming systems and complete flatwork packages including curb and gutter, laser grading, laser screeding and concrete placement. The company averages 60 employees and performs jobs of all sizes.
Mark Bottorff says the company hasn't seen its sales dip in the current economy, something he attributes to its focus on customer service. "We're very service oriented," Bottorff says. "We take exceptional care of our general contractors so they can feel confident going into a job with Bottorff Construction. Exceptional service is probably our niche in the market - something we do better than other people."
That doesn't mean the company hasn't had to make changes to maintain its sales in the current economy. Bottorff says they're placing more emphasis on customer relations by visiting the general contractors they work for and asking them what Bottorff Construction can do for them.
They've also been expanding. "Rather than pull in our wings and hunker down like a lot of people are doing, we hired another estimator and are hard-bidding a lot of projects and expanding our market and geographical area so we can get more work," Bottorff explains.
'Concrete by the acre'
Bottorff started the company in 1982, performing residential concrete foundations on a square footage basis for a local ready mix producer. Over the years, Bottorff Construction "dabbled" in commercial work but remained a primarily residential concrete contractor. Ten years ago the company made a major change. "In 1999 we bought a Somero Laser Screed, and that really propelled us into the flatwork market," Bottorff says.
Jerry Ernzen, VP of operations at Bottorff Construction, explains how the purchase of the Laser Screed changed the company. "That equipment gave us the ability to pour in volume," he says. "It allowed us to move from pouring 10,000-square-foot floors to those 50,000-square-foot projects."
Ernzen says Bottorff best described the business's transformation that year at the company holiday party when he said, "This has been a great year for us - we went from pouring concrete by the square foot to pouring concrete by the acre."
Bottorff Construction's current line-up of services puts the company in a position to take on jobs of any size. The company began offering curb and gutter in 1995, sitework and laser grading in 2000, and concrete placement in 2008. Currently, 75 percent of its sales stem from its flatwork package.
"Something unique we do with our flatwork package is we have people in the office who are ACI certified to test our own floors. We provide the GCs with a copy of the test so they understand the floor flatness," Bottorff explains. He says this practice has been very valuable in recent years as GCs began asking for flatter floors.
"By conducting these tests, we know what we can achieve; therefore, when we're bidding these jobs it gives us an idea of what steps we need to take to guarantee those numbers - it lets us know what our capabilities are," Bottorff adds. "Other companies that haven't tested too many floors really don't understand what they're after."
Another strength for Bottorff Construction is its equipment fleet. "We're probably equipment heavy in this company," Ernzen says."This time of year - February in Kansas - we're looking at a lot of equipment sitting back here in the yard, but in the heat of battle it's all being used."