Top Company 2022: Construction and Engineering
Congratulations to Ward Electric, Mortenson and I-kota LLC for providing the best Construction and Engineering services in Colorado!
The outpouring of applications for this year’s Top Company awards is a testament to the resilience and adaptability of enterprises that do business in the state. Applications for the 35th annual awards numbered in the hundreds, and it was particularly encouraging to see so many companies rebounding from two years of COVID restrictions, with most posting revenue and employee gains approaching—and in some cases, exceeding—pre-pandemic numbers.
This year’s Top Company winners and finalists represent 13 industry categories, plus a startup category for companies in business less than four years. Entrants were judged on three criteria: outstanding achievement, financial performance and community involvement. The judging panel was made up of ColoradoBiz magazine’s editorial board and two representatives from the business community.
WINNER — Ward Electric Co.
Ward Electric Co. specializes in all aspects of power with an emphasis on high-voltage projects across the lower 48 states.
The family-owned business believes its talented workforce is what differentiates it from the competition. Many employees have grown up in the company, working their way up the ranks.
“They understand our culture and our values, they live them, and they pass them on,” said Jared Bodammer, the company’s director of marketing. “We understand that our employees share our culture and are our best recruiters.”
Community service and involvement have been part of Ward Electric’s values and culture since Mike and Joyce Ward founded the company in 2005. The company supports numerous youth sports teams and area schools, events and organizations with a focus on helping children, especially those with special needs.
“When it comes down to it, it’s about providing access and opportunities,” Bodammer said. “Employees are encouraged to get involved in those opportunities and often present programs and causes for the company to support.
Among the company’s greatest achievements was launching the JoyforWard Foundation in January. The foundation provides assistance to nonprofits and organizations that meet criteria set by the foundation.
“We established the JoyforWard Foundation to honor our late mother, to continue to share her heart with others and to carry forward her ideals,” Ward Electric President Matt Ward said.
FINALIST — Mortenson
A top 20 U.S. builder, developer and engineering services provider, Mortenson maintains offices across the country, including a major hub in Denver that was established in 1981.
The company’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Business Resource Group has established internal workforce development programs, expanded hiring practices and set fair compensation packages across the company.
“Our focus extends beyond numbers to promoting real parity,” said Christina Zavislan, Mortenson team member and regional marketing lead. “From career mapping to Women’s Skills Nights, which provide training and experience using the tools needed to advance on the construction site, we are committed to providing opportunities for advancement for all.”
Mortenson establishes workforce utilization goals for each project to ensure people of color, women and veteran-owned businesses are given opportunities to grow. The company pledges to award 15% of all subcontracts to small, minority- and woman-owned businesses, a goal it exceeds every year.
The company’s commitment to fostering a more inclusive construction industry extends to external advocacy. It is a founding member of the Time for Change consortium, a group of six national general contractors that banded together to identify ways to advance diversity, equity and inclusion in the construction industry.
“That effort resulted in the first Construction Inclusion Week last fall in which tools, training and support were provided to 200,000 workers that made up the consortium and its partners,” Zavislan said.
FINALIST — I-kota LLC
I-kota LLC specializes in building multifamily affordable housing, completing more than 2,000 affordable units in Colorado.
The company’s guiding light is to continually focus not on “who’s right,” but “what’s right.”
The departure of CEO Riley McLaughlin’s business partner in 2016 left big shoes to fill and resulted in a new organizational chart, promoting three people from within the company and hiring an outside chief financial officer.
In the process, the company committed to becoming a $50 million a year business. “This commitment required us to become a more sophisticated company and more systemized company,” McLaughlin said.
The company is implementing integrated software that links project management to its accounting department. It also revamped its processes, coaching programs and implemented company town halls to increase communication and the recruiting processes to improve talent acquisition and training programs to increase employee retention.
“What I’m personally proud of through this difficult organizational transition was that we had zero turnover in personnel and have a solid relationship today with our previous business partner,” McLaughlin said. “As an organization, we have grown through living and abiding by our core values.”
Like other businesses feeling the pain of the coronavirus pandemic, I-kota applied for and was granted approval for the 2020 COVID PPP Small Business Loan. But because construction was deemed an essential business, it didn’t feel the hardship other businesses did, so it decided to pass on the loan so someone who needed it more could have it.
“Could we have used the money? Sure,” McLaughlin said. “However, we felt this was true to our values personally and as a business to help others first. Our reputation is something we work very hard on and want it to be known for chivalry, respect and integrity.”