(Dallas, TX) The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has awarded a $5.8 million contract to Austin Bridge & Road to reconstruct seven deficient bridges in the Tonto National Forest near Payson, Arizona. The endeavor is the first design-build project contracted by FHWA’s Central Federal Lands Highway Division in more than 15 years. Austin Bridge & Road employs more than 750 employee-owners and is structured as an employee-owned private company, or “S corporation employee stock ownership plan” (S ESOP).
Because the bridges are located in a pristine forest with a high risk of fires, Austin Bridge & Road will incorporate plans for emergency evacuations and emergency vehicle access. Austin Bridge & Road will support Central Federal Lands’ mission of maintaining roadways that serve recreational travel and tourism, protecting and enhancing natural resources, providing sustained economic development in rural areas, and providing needed transportation access for Native Americans. The project, which mobilizes this month, is expected to be completed in January, 2012.
“Employee ownership promotes the kind of integrity, accountability and high standards that are essential to a project like this in Tonto National Forest,” said Jim Andoga, president of Austin Bridge & Road. “We are proud to be the first company selected by Central Federal Lands in more than a decade, and because our team operates with pride in ownership, we are confident that the result will be total customer satisfaction.”
S ESOP companies like Austin, according to a University of Pennsylvania study, create not only employee motivation and success, but also $14 billion in new savings for S ESOP workers that they otherwise would not have. This is because company profits flow into workers’ ESOP (retirement) accounts. Moreover, most S ESOP employees have retirement account balances three to five times higher than the average 401 (k) or other defined contribution plans, as compared with most working Americans who, according to an April 2011 Gallup poll, think they will lack enough money to live comfortably in retirement.
“When employee-owners like those at Austin have the opportunity to invest in their company, it not only provides retirement security for workers themselves, but also generates tremendous returns for the company, the community and the economy,” said Greg Klein, chairman of the board of directors of the Employee-Owned S Corporations of America.
Austin Industries is a diverse, merit-shop construction company 100 percent owned by its employees. The three operating companies of Austin Industries—Austin Bridge & Road, Austin Commercial and Austin Industrial—engage in almost every type of civil, commercial and industrial construction. The company’s total workforce numbers about 5,300 and the completion value of projects in progress exceeds $1 billion. Founded in 1918, Austin is one of the largest and most diversified construction organizations in the United States. Offices are in Texas, California, Arizona, Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina.