Van Wyk says he is merely repaying what he has received over his time in the association.
"We're just good copycats," he says. "We've learned a lot from other contractors by talking to them and visiting their companies."
The company would not be where it is today without what he's learned from other members of the CFA, Van Wyk says.
"I can't stress enough the importance of networking," he says. "I always hear guys starting out say they can't afford to go to association meetings, that they don't have the time. I don't see how they can afford not to."
Within the company, a big part of the company's success is due to a group of loyal, talented employees. The company has done pretty well at retaining its employees. Although the company is "constantly hiring" for its 100-person workforce, most of that is to fill a small number of entry-level jobs that frequently turn over, Van Wyk says.
"We try to treat them right," he says. "We pay them a competitive wage, but that's really not the most important thing. We've had other companies offer more money, but our guys have stayed."
Offering good benefits and letting employees share in the success of the company has been important. Recently, Van Wyks started using open book management with key employees, where they can see the financials, which gives them a better understanding of how the business works.
"I think in the past, they all had this idea we were making a lot of money," he says. "Now they understand everything that goes into running the company."
Finding good employees is always a challenge, but its easier now than it was a few years ago because of an increase in the Latino population in the area.
"We've gone from basically none to 30-plus working for us in the last five or six years," he says. "We'd be lost without them. That's why when I hear people talking about closing the borders, it scares the hell out of me."
There have been some communication problems caused by the language barrier, but most now speak at least some English. The company offers to send its employees to English classes so they can improve their skills and move up in the company, an offer many have taken the company up on. When the company conducts any training on safety or a new piece of equipment, Van Wyk assigns an interpreter to make sure the employees understand everything that is being said.
"They always want to please me, so sometimes they'll say they understand when they really don't," he says. "That's why it's important to have a good group of bilingual workers."
The biggest problem they've had with Spanish-speaking employees hasn't actually been language — it's been teaching them English measurements, as they are used to the metric system used in the rest of the world when they read tape measures.
The company spends a lot of time and money training all of its employees. In its headquarters building, Van Wyks has invested in a large training room. Anytime a new product, material or piece of equipment is introduced, the employees are brought in for training. Safety is also a frequent topic of training sessions.
"We are constantly training," Van Wyk says. "Employees who know what they are doing are more efficient and produce higher quality work."
Developing and educating the employees about the business has made it possible for Van Wyk and wife Sue, the company vice president, to be less involved in the day-to-day operations and prepare for the eventual succession of the company to their children and other key employees. Their daughter is the company controller and their son is manager of the excavation department. Arie used to manage the field operations and Sue ran the business side. Now, that falls to others.