The values of service, safety and quality that Bilfinger Westcon Inc. CEO Mark Peterson established at the time he founded the company in 1981 continue to guide the company today.
“Our company motto is `Pride Thru Performance,’ and that’s really something that Mark has instilled in us from the very beginning and distinguishes us from our competitors today,” says Sue Gustafson, marketing director of the Bismarck, N.D.-based company. “His philosophy has always been that while you need to make a profit, it’s most important to have a happy customer at the end of the day.”
More than 60 percent of the company’s customers are repeat clients, a fact Gustafson attributes to the longevity of Peterson and other management staff. “We’ve built a lot of stability into our work and how we approach it, and many of our clients have worked with the same people here for more than 20 years,” she adds. “Our business is about making our customers’ lives easier, and providing them with people they enjoy working with is a part of that.”
The pride the company takes in its projects for repeat clients and others has helped Bilfinger Westcon grow its presence in the Bakken Shale and other U.S. oil and gas markets. Oil and gas-related projects make up the majority of the workload for the company, which specializes in industrial general contracting.
Bilfinger Westcon’s experience in the midstream oil and gas market includes building cryogenic gas plants, liquefaction facilities, fractionation plants, gas compressor stations, flare gas collections projects, oil and gas separation facilities, crude oil upgrade facilities and oil pumping stations. In addition, the company serves a diverse set of clients including the chemical, mining, power, agricultural and food-processing markets.
The company, founded as Westcon Inc., was acquired by multinational civil and industrial contractor Bilfinger Berger in 2012 and re-branded itself to reflect its new ownership shortly afterward. “Our ownership brings a deep bench strong around engineering and construction, and being a part of their organization has broadened our horizons and opened new doors for us,” CFO Rod Hammer says.
Peterson, a 45-year construction industry veteran, continues to oversee the company’s daily operations.
Bilfinger Westcon self-performs civil, structural, mechanical and equipment-setting work on all of its projects. “Our ability to self-perform this work allows direct control of the project schedule,” Gustafson says. “By managing our own work forces as well as subcontractors, we ensure that projects are completed on time and within budget.”
Many of the company’s projects are delivered in short time frames and in adverse weather conditions like those found in North Dakota during the winter. “These conditions have helped us become one of the premier cold weather contractors in the United States,” she adds. “The company frequently completes concrete pours during -20 F temperatures. We know what additives work in these types of temperatures and also understand what type of shelters are required for these conditions.”
Bilfinger Westcon’s current projects include the first greenfield refinery built in the United States since 1976. The company began work in 2013 on the Dakota Prairie Refinery, located on a 318-acre site west of Dickinson, N.D.
The approximately $300 million refinery, a joint venture of MDU Resources and Calumet Specialty Products Partners L.P., will process 20,000 barrels per day of Bakken crude oil once it starts operations in 2014. Bilfinger Westcon is employing roughly 400 construction-related employees for the project.
The company in June 2013 completed the first phase of a gas fractionation plant in Scio, Ohio, for M3 Midstream Energy Co. Bilfinger Westcon is now working on the second and third phases of the project.
A Strong Safety Culture
A commitment to safety is at the heart of each of Bilfinger Westcon’s projects. This commitment is a large part of the company’s overall culture. “Safety is part of our employees’ work behavior – each one of them is trained to recognize potential hazards,” Gustafson notes. “It is important for the company to know that at the end of the day each employee gets home safely. Our goal is zero incidents.”
The company’s corporate management team believes in leading by example where safety is concerned. Executives and managers participate in monthly project audits.
Safety training is led by the company’s corporate safety, health and environmental director, who trains field supervisors on its oversight. The corporate director stays up-to-date on new OSHA and MSHA regulations, participates in industry safety councils, attends related conferences and reviews and purchases safety equipment.
“It is the strong commitment to safety, health and the environment and the culture of the company that made Bilfinger Westcon a leader among all U.S. construction industry peers in every major industrial market,” the company says. “Our safety statistics and overall program are best-in-class and recognized by the top-tier company leaders in all major U.S. industrial markets.”