The focused approach that drives Jackson Industries, LLC
Ingenuity has been a hallmark characteristic of Jackson Industries since its earliest days.
Whether on a solar site or a commercial development project, Chad Jackson, Owner and President, and his team of earthwork and concrete experts at North Plains, Oregon-based Jackson Industries, LLC are best known for finding ways to deliver optimized solutions.
The full-service contractor self-performs land clearing, earthwork and structural site concrete for public and private clients throughout Oregon, Washington and Idaho. The company’s focused approach to addressing tight schedules, tighter budgets and solving complex problems is solidifying firm foundations across multiple market sectors and the next generation of industry talent.
As a second-generation construction professional (his father was a carpenter and owned a general contracting firm), Jackson developed a love of digging and subsequently concrete. In his younger years, he worked for other construction firms in the Northwest for a number of years, learning all he could about the tools and techniques of the trade as well as the business side of estimating and project management.
When the time was right, he established Jackson Industries in 2007 with a focus on his two professional passions—earthwork and concrete. His early jobs were largely on residential and small commercial projects. He expanded to parking lots, sidewalks and street improvements, with customers such as Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon, and the Oregon Department of Transportation. As his reputation for timely, quality work and project experience grew, he continued to expand company capabilities as well as the scope and scale of projects, taking on larger commercial development and renewable energy projects.
Along the way, he recognized that one of the biggest challenges to his clients—owners, developers and general contractors—is managing multiple trade contractors. He explains, “The potential for delays and disruption rises along with the number of subs working on a job. Excavation and concrete pouring are common bottlenecks.”
With that in mind, Jackson reinforced his commitment to be a one-stop source for earthwork and concrete work. He hired Michael Graser as Operations Manager and Mike Garcia as Chief Estimator to keep the projects and office responsibilities going while he troubleshoots as General Superintendent in the field. Garcia joined in February 2019, bringing 28 years of estimating and project management experience in the heavy civil and commercial space.
Graser was hired in early 2018. He brings 30+ years of people management and operations management experience. He spent 25 years with Intel Corporation as an IT project/program manager involved in several major IT enterprise solutions implemented globally. After departing from Intel, he took a position with UPS as the Operations Manager for the Northwest coast operations.
“The majority of our business comes from our reputation for being reliable, cost-effective, efficient and able to consistently deliver a high-quality product,” Graser says. “With our combined expertise and experience, we can typically complete a job on a much faster timeline with higher-quality results,” an outcome the company’s clients greatly appreciate.
Thinking Outside the Box
While earthwork and concrete placement might seem routine, a closer look reveals potential project-delaying challenges—something Jackson and his team are particularly adept at resolving.
“One of the misconceptions of construction is that earthwork and concrete work are routine cookie-cutter work. It’s simply not the case,” Graser says. “About 75% of our projects require some form of customized tool or technique. Chad comes up with solutions when we find ourselves facing a situation we have never encountered. He might have to determine how to build something we have never built before.”
For instance, while working on Oregon Route 8, also known as Oregon Highway 8, a project in Portland, Jackson and his fabricator designed a concrete tool that matches the profile of the curb.
“We call it the Traffic Island Separator,” says Graser. “We needed a tool that matched the finished profile of the surface without having to do it by hand. So we designed a rod board and finish tool to make that happen. This was a substantial savings with man hours and provided a consistent profile.”
This project exemplifies one of the many reasons that Jackson Industries now has a full-time fabricator on staff.
“We’re not a fabricator—we’re a contractor,” says Jackson, “but, construction is all about building something, and that process requires the right tools to simplify a job or improve an outcome, as we found out with the concrete curb profiling tool.”
“Construction is all about building something, and that process requires the right tools to simplify a job or improve an outcome.” Chad Jackson, Owner and President, Jackson Industries, LLC
In the past, one of Jackson’s foremen—a machine operator and a skilled metalworker—would fabricate tools as needed. Jackson says, “We have so much demand for customized tools to help our teams work more productively or to help our clients that needed someone full time. When he’s not fabricating something for a job, he’s building or modifying our tools and equipment for us.”
The company currently employs a small, close-knit staff of 20, including skilled craftworkers and project managers, Graser says. “They learn from each other and grasp the concept of constructive criticism,” he adds.
The investment in maintenance and customization for improved productivity and efficiency is one of the key reasons that Jackson Industries is able to complete jobs on schedule and on budget and bid ever-larger jobs in its chosen market segments.
The full-service capabilities in earthwork and concrete opened the door for Jackson Industries to win work in the solar farm and industrial/manufacturing sectors.
Over the last five years, Jackson Industries has worked on a number of solar projects in Oregon.
The company has performed work for Sterling and Wilson Pvt. Ltd., a major energy firm based in India, and DEPCOM Power, which builds utility-scale solar projects (named a top solar contractor by Solar Power World). The work required includes underground dry conduit pipelines, utilities, grading and concrete work. The plants range from 2 to 30 megawatts and cover from 40 to 300 acres, according to Jackson.
Jackson expects this sector of his business to keep growing as more power companies in the Pacific Northwest look to replace fossil-fuel power with renewables.
Similarly, the company had an opportunity to demonstrate its expertise in the manufacturing space. In 2017, the team put in a new structural foundation for heavy machine-tooling equipment when Compass Aerospace Northwest in Puyallup, Washington, moved its plant to combine with another owned by PCC Aerostructures, a worldwide manufacturer of complex metal components and products for industrial and aerospace applications.
Currently, Jackson Industries is handling the foundation work for Global Electric, Inc.’s new facility in North Plains, Oregon. The commercial and industrial electrical service provider contracted Jackson Industries to excavate the foundation, lay pipe and pour the slab for the new multi- story facility that is on track to finish construction this year.
Maintaining the company’s reputation as an innovator and one-stop shop for excavation and concrete services requires continuous learning.
That’s why employees are sent for training “anywhere we know we have a need,” Jackson says. Staff members are encouraged to take classes and go to professional conferences to further the value of the company.
In addition, Jackson Industries is doing its part to develop the next generation of operators and craftworkers. Several years ago, the company partnered with the Northwest College of Construction’s apprenticeship program, providing students with the necessary on-the-job training to earn certifications. Jackson says, “It’s a win-win for both sides, as the students get credit on their three-year apprenticeships while Jackson Industries has a source of readily available trained workers.”
The company helps train students in fields such as concrete finishing and heavy equipment operators and laborers. Currently, the company has two full-time apprentices working as cement masons.
The third generation of the Jackson family is already making plans to continue the innovation mindset established more than a decade ago. In fact, one of Jackson’s teenage children already has plans to earn a civil engineering degree, serve in the military, and then return to run his dad’s company.
In the interim, Jackson and his team will continue to focus on delivering quality services with a resourceful and results-oriented mindset that sets them apart from the competition.