Recent budget cuts have left many Illinois road contractors shaking their heads and hoping for the return of better times in 2005, but that reality hasn't deterred K-Five Construction Corporation from making the investments required to be one of the preeminent asphalt contractors in the Midwest.
The Lemont, IL-based company, which typically generates approximately $125-plus million in annual sales, anticipates a significant shortfall in 2004 revenues, but expects 2005 to show improvement thanks to the Illinois Toll Highway Authority's decision to reconstruct 90 percent of the toll way system. K-Five's commitment to invest in technology, even during a down economy, has and will continue to play a critical role in its ability to profitably deliver on projects it is awarded.
K-Five employs over 500 associates and bids on over 1,000 projects each year. The technology and skilled workforce that has helped this contractor achieve profitable growth over the years is instrumental in the company's success rate of winning over 20 percent of the jobs it bids.
And while the company's success dates back to the early 20th century, the past 30 years truly define the evolutionary course the company has taken to be recognized as an industry leader. In 1977, the company incorporated under the K-Five name (representing the five children of George and Josephine Krug), and began emphasizing its paving expertise. Today the fourth generation has taken its place as torchbearer committed to delivering quality products and services customers have grown to expect from this well-established heavy-highway paving contractor.
As a producer of asphalt and concrete with in-place capabilities, K-Five also provides many other construction services, including estimating, private sales, quality control/quality assurance, project management, heavy highway general contracting, and residential/commercial subcontracting. K-Five's services range from milling, crushing and paving large Interstate projects to constructing large commercial parking lots and residential subdivisions in addition to sales of hot mix asphalt to other independent paving contractors.
To advance its paving expertise and competitive position in the market, K-Five management realized technology would have to be an integral part of the success equation. Dennis Devitto, vice president of K-Five's asphalt operations has firsthand experience with how the company has leveraged technology over the years to meet the high standards customers demand. Devitto, who has been with the company for the past 32 years, praises the technical advancements that have helped elevate the paving process from a historical data-driven approach to one of constant testing and adjusting the process as it's happening.
"When we started using nuclear density testers to check volumetrics of a mix design after it was placed and compacted, we were able to obtain some immediate information on whether or not we were achieving the specifications required for a particular project," Devitto says. "We realized how technology could help us better control the end results. As a company, we started to develop a philosophy based on using technology to improve the process; and we backed that approach by training our project superintendents and foremen to use the technology to achieve better results."
With that evolving technology, quantifiable data — like that produced by the Strategic Highway Research Program — helped establish some standards contractors would have to achieve with an asphalt constructed project.
"We recognized that in order to be competitive, K-Five had to produce an economical product, place it economically and professionally, and do so at a quality standard that satisfied the customer," Devitto says.
By the mid-'80s K-Five stepped up its training efforts by sending superintendents and foremen to trade schools and equipment supplier-sponsored training workshops. With new advancements in paving equipment, training is ongoing to help K-Five associates maximize the benefits the technology can provide.