Back-to-Back Award Wining Seasons for Howard Companies

Howard Companies shows the importance of paving the way to strong client relationships as the company explains its experience with the city of Carmel.

The roundabouts weren’t in the original contract and were one of the things the city was able to add in due to the company fitting its budget and the stable trust already formed between them.
The roundabouts weren’t in the original contract and were one of the things the city was able to add in due to the company fitting its budget and the stable trust already formed between them.
Provided by Howard Companies

Roundabouts are meant to keep traffic flowing and are a wonderful solution for high-traffic areas. But, when it’s already a high-traffic area, figuring out how to keep traffic flowing while paving the road can be challenging. The crews at Howard Companies mastered this situation when they paved roadways and roundabouts in Carmel, Ind.

A Working Environment

Howard Companies started out as Harding Group in the 1960s and was rebranded in 2021 after Shelby Howard bought the company a few years prior. The company evolved from doing exclusively driveway and commercial parking lot rehabilitation to one that has added large municipal and new construction projects to its skillset. 

Howard knows company culture is paramount to success.  When he isn’t out with crews on jobsites he’s in the office making sure the company is winning work.

Sean Rizer, chief financial officer, stated, “It's fun being a part of a growing company. We're always trying to do something better than what we did yesterday.”  

Rizer stated, “It's fun being a part of a growing company where we are, we're always trying to do something better than what we did yesterday.”

Mike Isaacs, director of quality control at Howard Companies, said he started in the industry because his family was already in it. Asphalt mix design is a passion to him rather than a job. He expressed he is driven by the science and engineering behind designing asphalt mixes and working to optimize asphalt's performance.

“It’s just fascinating to me. Every day is a challenge, it’s never the same,” Isaacs said. “There’s never a dull moment.”

Isaacs said that an example of this was when it rains. He explained that weather results in additional things that have to be done to make the mix look as good as it did when it wasn’t raining.

Paving Connections

The city of Carmel is a recurring customer of Howard Companies. While the company has built up a strong relationship with the city, Carmel is a low-bid opportunity. The city added change orders to the project showing confidence in the team at Howard Companies to deliver results on time and on budget.

“They're willing to add … streets to the contract or things like that, where we're able to do more work than originally performed because they appreciate what we bring to the table — timeliness, quality, and on budget,” said Rizer.

When completing projects, it's important to promote consistency which aids in keeping quality and budget steady. The company relies on a few equipment manufacturers. Keeping the number of brands to a minimum ensures consistency for not only the work but also for the crews.

Rizer said, “On the paving side, the majority of our equipment is Caterpillar. We will also use some Hamm rollers behind the paver. We own our own fleet of dump trucks which is not always common in our market. We use predominantly Kenworth dump trucks in our fleet.  Our two HMA plants are Astec.”

Facing Challenges

Known for its vibrant landscapes, arts, and high quality of living Carmel Indiana is consistently ranked as one of the best cities in America. With its 150 Roundabouts, Carmel is crowned "The Roundabout Capital of the United States". While this level of popularity is excellent for the residents, it poses problems for companies hired to do any construction there.

Isaacs said, “That's a challenge in itself, you know, knowing that when you go there, the bar is set tremendously high because you can't go into a city like that and do a bad job.”

The city also didn’t want the streets to be closed due to the paving — yet another hoop to jump through. Carmel didn’t want people waiting or going through long detours due to lanes being shut down.

“Everything had to be paved in live traffic,” Isaacs stated.

Not only was paving this well-known city a stressor, but the fact that the city is already quite congested added to the pressure.

Tommy Johnson, paving division manager, added, “Our culture is about celebrating our exceptional paving crew and superintendent for turning challenges at demanding roundabouts into a quality product, evidence to their unwavering dedication. This quality award reflects their personal commitment to excellence. A heartfelt thanks to the City of Carmel Street Department for their invaluable support.”

A Roundabout Way to a Solution

With the heavy activity of motoring public traveling through Carmel giving rise to challenges for Howard Companies, Isaacs discussed the strategies the crews had to come up with to keep the traffic moving while attempting to pave standard roundabouts and figure eight roundabouts. He emphasized the dedication the team put into ensuring the city’s expectations were met, and traffic could keep flowing. 

Rizer mentioned since Howard Companies’ bid was below the city’s budget, expanding the roundabouts was one of the things the city was able to add. Carmel has the most roundabouts per total city intersection in the world which aids the city’s ability to keep traffic moving and avoid congestion.

Isaacs explained, “Carmel’s traffic flows very smoothly, people will jump off the interstate and just go through the area to take advantage of the roundabouts. There's no stopping, so traffic is just constantly flowing.”

Consecutive Achievement

Howard Companies received lots of positive feedback about the job its crews completed in Carmel. The crews were told that the job they did was very professional, a form of high praise. 

This outpour of praise and winning this pavement award may not have come as much of a surprise to them though. This is the second consecutive year that Howard Companies has won in this category. Last year, the company won in the Paving, Non-parking category for the city of Fishers. Now, they are back at it, with the win in Carmel. Isaacs and Rizer discussed how huge it is for the company to have crews that keep winning these kinds of awards.

Isaacs said, “Winning this prestigious award for the second consecutive year is a testament to the exceptional culture the Howards have cultivated. This award-winning culture not only inspires our team to consistently deliver outstanding results but also enables us to attract and retain top talent in our industry.”