This marks the 15th year of the Contractor of the Year awards program, a partnership between VEGAS INC and the Nevada Contractors Association, a group that represents nearly 500 general contractors, subcontractors, suppliers and affiliated firms.
Construction builds the infrastructure that shapes our daily lives, including homes, offices, schools and roads. It’s also responsible for thousands of great paying professional jobs. In short, construction helps make Southern Nevada a great place to live.
Contractor of the Year
Las Vegas Paving Corporation
Robert Mendenhall founded Las Vegas Paving in 1958 with $1,500 and one backhoe.
Almost six decades later, the company has grown from a small asphalt-paving business to a prominent player in heavy civil construction in Southern Nevada, with some 1,200 employees and annual revenue in excess of $500 million. With a substantial inventory of equipment available for an extensive array of projects, the company’s scope of business now includes highways, bridges, dams, mining, underground facilities, utilities, pump stations, water- and sewer-treatment plants, traffic control, aggregate crushing and material supply.
“We’re more or less experienced in all facets of heavy construction, and we’re working on over 50 projects at any given time,” said Ryan Mendenhall — Robert Mendenhall’s grandson — who serves as division manager and director.
Mendenhall said most of the company’s business is conducted with public agencies such as the Nevada Department of Transportation, the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada and Clark County Public Works, the City of Henderson, the City of Las Vegas, Southern Nevada Water Authority, Regional Flood Control and Las Vegas Valley Water District.
Indeed, “Las Vegas Paving has been a reliable and responsible partner in delivering high-quality infrastructure in Southern Nevada,” said Tony Ilia, public information officer for NDOT. “They consistently meet and surpass our performance expectations in terms of budget, safety and quality.”
Las Vegas Paving has a number of high-profile projects on its plate, including the $235 million Boulder City Bypass Design Build project, a 12.5-mile stretch of Interstate 11 that is expected to be completed in summer of 2018.
“We’re working with the RTC of Southern Nevada on this one, and are about 85 percent completed,” Mendenhall said of the project, which will allow motorists commuting to and from Arizona to bypass Boulder City. “We also worked with Clark County Public Works on the $52.4 million I-215 Airport Connector Phase 2, which opened in June and included an eastbound flyover bridge that will ease congestion in and out of the airport tunnel. And we’re currently working with Clark County on the $92.4 million Western 215 Beltway project, a highway improvement from Craig Road to Hualapai Way, and are in the process of building full interchanges at Lone Mountain, Ann Road and Centennial Parkway.”
This project, expected to be completed in 2018, will help ease traffic congestion and create safer commuting conditions in the northwest part of the valley.
— Danielle Birkin
Civil Project of the Year
Centennial Bowl Interchange-Las Vegas Paving
Las Vegas Paving deserves recognition for a major project that will benefit motorists in the northwest valley — the $47 million Centennial Bowl interchange, which included “northbound U.S. 95 to eastbound CC-215 asphalt-paved ramp, 60-foot-tall, half-mile-long concrete flyover bridge linking westbound CC-215 to southbound U.S. 95, over 2,000 feet of mechanically stabilized earthen walls, over 2,000 feet of soil nail/tie-back walls, concrete barrier rail, asphalt-paved southbound collector-distribution roadway, storm drain, lighting, traffic control, striping and signage,” according to Darren Keser, estimator/project manager with Las Vegas Paving.
The much-anticipated interchange opened to traffic July 12 in a fanfare event that coincided with NDOT’s centennial anniversary and included the unfurling of an 85-pound U.S. flag.
“Centennial Bowl is the second-busiest interchange in Southern Nevada and third most active in the state, with nearly 108,000 vehicles a day using the ramps at U.S. 95 and the 215 Beltway in northwest Las Vegas,” according to Tony Ilia with NDOT. “Las Vegas Paving established a vital social, cultural and economic link for local businesses, residents and visitors in northwest Las Vegas.”
With anywhere from 50 to 100 Las Vegas Paving crew members on the jobsite at any given time, Ryan Mendenhall said the safety of his employees as well as the traveling public was of paramount concern.
“The bridge was a cast-in-place concrete bridge, so it took a tremendous amount of planning when it came to installing the false work, or the shoring, and it was done in multiple phases over live traffic,” Ryan Mendenhall said.
Summarized Keser: “As on all of our projects, safety is the No. 1 goal to protect our employees and the travelling public.”
— Danielle Birkin
Subcontractor of the Year
Wells Cargo Construction
For more than 60 years, Wells Cargo Construction — holder of the oldest contractor’s license in Nevada — has served the needs of the Las Vegas Valley with a commitment to safety, quality and integrity.
Since Guy Wells became majority owner in 2013, “he has created a culture around putting our customers first, always doing the right thing, and holding ourselves responsible for the good and the bad circumstances that we are faced with. Our culture is ultimately what drives our business; if you do the above things right, the success will follow,” said Vice President of Corporate Affairs Sierra Wells.
“Wells Cargo has adapted well to an aggressive schedule,” said Chris Witten, supervisor 3, associate engineer at Nevada Department of Transportation. “Their materials and placement have met or exceeded NDOT standards. They have communicated extremely well with NDOT.”
Wells and his colleagues have come to believe that a successful corporate culture is created by an organization, not forced.
“When you demand something out of anyone you get forced, inauthentic results,” said Witten. “A culture is who you are and who you choose to create your vision with. When you master your culture, then excellence is a result.”
The company is also involved in giving back to the community in a variety of ways. Management has been active in fundraising for Habitat for Humanity, St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, Make-a-Wish Foundation of Southern Nevada, Home Aid of Southern Nevada and several local youth sports teams, among others.
Wells Cargo always has big goals in store for the coming year, said Wells. “This next year we are focused on growing as a company so that we can better serve our internal and external customers.”
Indeed, she added, as the economy improves the general market presents opportunities that create confidence and more growth.
— Howard Riell
Supplier of the Year
Fasteners Inc. has been an active member of NCA since its inception in 1993, when Keith Mantis founded a small Las Vegas supply house by means of the acquisition of Kaner Co.’s assets.
In the past two decades Fasteners Inc. has grown into a top regional supplier of professional-grade industrial and commercial tools and supplies, with a wide variety of products that are used by all trades, according to Michael Mantis — Keith Mantis’ son — who has been involved in the business since the age of 15 and now serves as executive vice president. Mantis said the $56 million company’s success is based upon exceeding customer expectations, outperforming the competition and fostering long-term relationships with its customers.
“All of this could not have been accomplished without our 63 exceptional employees, many of whom have been with the firm for 15-plus years,” Mantis said. “We have also been serving most of our customers since we opened. As such, our success is dependent upon their success. With this in mind, our customers’ issues and concerns are treated as our own, which allows our partnerships to grow even stronger.”
Mantis said Fasteners Inc. also maintains a 99 percent fill-rate for its customers, ensuring that they have the products they need in order to complete their jobs on time. Brands include DeWalt, Milwaukee, Werner Ladders, Guardian Fall Protection and Weather Guard.
As for the future of the company, “With the huge growth that is expected within the Las Vegas Valley, Fasteners Inc. is building up inventories, staff and equipment in order to meet the needs of its customers in the coming years,” Mantis said, adding that Fasteners Inc. is also committed to supporting NCA, “whether it’s donating time, money or materials to the projects that are important to the organization.”
— Danielle Birkin
Affiliate of the Year
Grand Canyon Development Partners
With a team of professionals boasting more than 100 years of combined experience, Grand Canyon Development Partners is a full-service real-estate development and construction-management company specializing in hospitality, gaming, food and beverage, retail, sports and entertainment. With a wide range of services geared toward providing cost-effective solutions, Grand Canyon Development effectively manages clients’ projects to increase their opportunities to develop their tenant relationships and pursue more deals.
“Our extensive experience provides us with a unique ability to fully understand what is critical to our clients and their business while also having the insight on what it takes to pull a successful project together, from feasibility to design and permitting, through construction and turnover to the tenants,” said Sam Nicholson, who founded the company in Arizona in 2005, adding that the company’s involvement with Nevada Contractors Association has been vital to its continued success.
Having managed the development and construction of projects ranging from a few thousand square feet to several million square feet, the company has worked with clients including SLS Las Vegas, Cosmopolitan, Grand Bazaar Shops, Lucky Dragon and The Howard Hughes Corp, with a focus on adhering to quality standards, avoiding costly mistakes and ensuring that each and every project is completed on time and within budget.
“By adopting a partnership mentality with our clients, Grand Canyon manages each project using a team-oriented approach to ensure our clients’ objectives remain the primary focus,” Nicholson said. “Grand Canyon’s role as a member of this team is to manage a well-planned collaboration of efforts on the part of owners, tenants, design professionals, contractors and regulatory agencies. Knowing everyone on a project has the same goal, we pride ourselves on working together to get there.”
— Danielle Birkin
Safest Contractor of the Year
Kiewit Infrastructure West Co.
Safety has been a core value in Kiewit’s culture since its inception in 1884. It is committed to the highest standards of safety performance possible, consistent with sound construction practices. An individualized, organized and effective safety program is developed for each project that it constructs, regardless of the size or scope.
“From the start of the estimating process to the delivery of a finished project, every employee believes in our culture that Nobody Gets Hurt, said Chris Koenig, Kiewit’s Nevada manager. “Providing and maintaining a safe work environment is a priority, and adherence to safety policies is obligatory to be a member of the Kiewit team. It is no accident that we have an OSHA incident rate over nine times lower than the industry average.”
Koenig explained that the key to safety is “craft engagement — making every person on the project realize that he is expected and empowered to make safe choices and if needed stop work to make sure each operation is safe.”
Kiewit established an active Craft Voice in Safety program, which empowers craft to speak up and make their voices heard. “It builds a partnership between management and the craft, and promotes the expectation that everyone on the project is a safety leader.”
The company also recognizes the achievements of projects with outstanding safety records. “For Kiewit, there is never a safety budget, either at the project level or the district level,” Koenig said. “From seemingly small achievements, like rewarding a craft worker using his stop-work authority to make sure an operation is safe before it proceeds, to project-wide achievements, like performing over 500,000 man-hours without an OSHA recordable — as we have done since the inception of Project Neon (the largest public works project in Nevada history — which will widen 3.7 miles of Interstate 15 between Sahara Avenue and the ‘Spaghetti Bowl’ interchange) — safety has become more than an attitude but an integral part of our company culture.”
— Howard Riell
J.A. Tiberti Spirit Award
Tommy White-Laborers Union Local 872
With more than two decades at Laborers Union Local 872 under his belt, Business Manager-Secretary Treasurer Tommy White has been instrumental in shoring up contracts and policies, influencing legislation and philanthropic efforts, and having a direct impact on the future of Southern Nevada through his work on projects like the Las Vegas Stadium.
White has been business manager-secretary treasurer of Local 872 since 2001. He was trustee to the Laborers Joint Trust Funds from 1997 until he was appointed as chairman in 2003, where he currently serves. Policies that White implemented in the ‘90s are still in effect.
An advocate for his fellow workers and the community in general, White, working with the NCA, was instrumental in passing legislation mandating that all construction workers obtain valid OSHA 10 certifications. White took steps to certify more than 5,000 union members in OSHA regulations.
White’s efforts helped lead to the creation of the Construction Industry Workers Charitable Foundation in 2006. The nonprofit organization assists construction workers and their families during unemployment, injury, illness and homelessness. He was instrumental in helping open the Laborers Health and Wellness Center in January 2008, a service that provides free access to health care for members of Laborers Local 872 and their families.
White joined the Las Vegas Stadium Authority Board in November 2016. He and members of 872 have been significant Raiders supporters, lobbying the legislature and drumming up community support — even going so far as to design a one-of-a-kind Las Vegas Raiders firetruck.
White’s philanthropic interests cast a broad net. He’s been instrumental in helping high school students get vocational experience. He also works closely with groups that assist veterans, as well as Hope For Prisoners, the National Association of Minority Contractors, the Latin Chamber of Commerce, The Center, People’s Autism Foundation and Center Ring Boxing.
— Craig Peterson
Building Project of the Year
Penta Building Group-Lucky Dragon
An innovative trick or two helped breathe life in the Lucky Dragon.
The property was completed in November 2016 and sits on 2.63 acres one block west of the Strip.
Lucky Dragon was completed five days ahead of schedule, and under budget, attributable to Penta’s extensive pre-construction services, the implementation of LEAN Construction methodologies, and meticulous attention-to-detail. The result: a roughly 4.5-percent total decrease to the project budget.
That decrease, according to COO John Cannito, was achieved through a relationship-focused approach with the owner, design team and trade partners. Other pre-construction services included milestone budgeting and analysis of the mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems. Without losing the intent of the owner’s vision, exterior options were provided to offer the most cost-effective solutions.
Penta’s innovative LEAN Construction technique dramatically improves efficiency and reduces waste. “This approach required the contractor to work closely with trade partners on a Pull Plan scheduling system,” Cannito said. “This system sets an end date to a specific task and works backwards, identifying other key milestones that need to be met prior to the start of that task. Each milestone is a solid commitment from the subcontractor’s field personnel and tracked daily by each member of the team.”
The resort includes a nine-story, 203-guest room tower, three Asian-themed restaurants and a full-service spa. At the heart of the gaming floor is the octagonal-shaped, golden-plated pagoda center bar with its custom made 2,000-pound dragon chandelier.
All guest rooms feature mountain or Strip views. An intimate and secluded outdoor pool and recreation area was designed to reflect the rich heritage and culture of China. The building’s exteriors feature imported red glass panels, back-lit perforated metal panels, and a base of indigenous Southwestern stone. The resort also includes a two-level casino and restaurant complex complete with an attached six-level parking structure.
— Howard Riell
Member of the Year
McCarthy Building Companies, Inc.
A builder at heart, Nathaniel Jacobs became a member of the NCA as a student at Montana State University, where he graduated in 2008 with a B.S. in construction engineering and a minor in business administration. An active member of the student chapter of the organization, Jacobs also determined his professional path while in college, completing a summer internship at McCarthy Building Companies in Las Vegas in 2007, and being hired on full-time as a project manager.
“I was hired on at McCarthy straight out of college and never looked back,” said Jacobs, a tinkerer who has always been drawn to architecture and engineering.
“I graduated just before the recession and had multiple job offers, but the genuine culture of McCarthy’s people seemed like the perfect fit.”
Jacobs has contributed to nearly $300 million of projects across the valley, representing McCarthy in the aviation, infrastructure, K-12 and higher education markets, and now serves as senior project manager.
“I believe that industry involvement is an easy segue to becoming more engrained in the local community,” said Jacobs, who began attending the Young Constructors Forum meetings (NCA subcommittee) in 2012, and was elected chairman in 2015 and 2016. “As chairman, I instituted a hierarchy within YCF that established project leaders with the end goal of increasing engagement. Trying to break the ‘networking club’ stigma, I also added a professional development component that the group continues to follow. Philanthropic programs over my tenure included a park for City Impact Center, Adopt-a-Highway, building a kids play area for USO in McCarran, and a renovation of a homeless transition center, CARE Complex.”
“We at the NCA are thrilled to honor Nathaniel Jacobs as Member of the Year because he exudes commitment and involvement by his support and dedication to the association, our industry and community,” said Sean Stewart, NCA chief executive officer.
— Danielle Birkin
Member Company of the Year
McCarthy Building Companies, Inc.
Established in 1864, McCarthy has a long history of building facilities that drive greater value. From exceptional levels of quality and safety to ease of maintenance over time, it is committed to helping its clients and partners achieve their short- and long-term strategic goals.
“We keep trying to raise the bar for ourselves and the construction industry as a whole,” said Jeff Wood, senior vice president of operations for McCarthy’s Nevada office. “Southern Nevada has been our home for more than 40 years, and 2017 has been a benchmark year, for sure.”
McCarthy is a 100-percent employee-owned company, “so we all have a vested interest in every client and market we’re in,” Wood said. “This drives the innovation of our team and creates the highest level of accountability amongst our partners, our clients and the community.”
One major accomplishment for McCarthy was being selected with its joint venture partner, Mortenson Construction, to build the new Las Vegas Stadium. In addition, said Wood, “We’ve been able to make a significant impact to our industry by partnering with the Nevada Contractor’s Association and serving on their boards, chairing committees and participating in industry forums.”
“McCarthy Building Companies has been very involved and hands-on with the NCA for several years and truly deserves to be recognized for their dedication, hard work and passion for not only the NCA, but the industry as a whole,” said Sean Stewart, NCA chief executive officer.
The company’s major goals for 2018 center around the development of its people. “We want to continue to raise the bar in this industry,” Wood said, “and our talent is key to providing impactful solutions for our clients and executing work with the highest level of safety, and quality.”
— Howard Riell