For more than 60 years, Market & Johnson has been one of the most trusted general contractors in the upper Midwest, known for its work in multiple sectors including healthcare, education, food processing and industrial manufacturing. Vice President Jason Plante says the company’s portfolio is extensive and varied, but up until recently it did not include energy and mining work. That all changed when the frac sand market in Wisconsin began to grow, and Market & Johnson saw an opportunity to bring its decades of expertise to a new class of customers.
With the industrial minerals market booming in Wisconsin, Market & Johnson saw a chance to diversify, and by partnering with leading equipment and services provider Alston Equipment the company has entered the sector in a big way. Plante says the level of expertise Market & Johnson brings to the table, coupled with the technical know-how and industrial minerals knowledge of Alston Equipment, has given the company a strong profile in the frac sand market.
“I think it’s something that’s far different from what the competition is doing,” Plante says.
Bringing It Together
As one of the largest and most experienced general contractors in Wisconsin, Market & Johnson had a significant advantage over other contractors in the industrial minerals market before it even started. Plante says one of the company’s most distinct advantages is its focus on the entire construction process, including financing and budgeting. Not only does the company’s one-stop-shop approach provide customers with a more streamlined experience from start to finish on their projects, but they also have the peace of mind that comes from knowing where every dollar they spend is going and why.
“Owners always have an idea of where they stand on cost,” Plante says.
Another substantial advantage Market & Johnson has over other contractors working in the frac sand market is that, as a Wisconsin-based company, it is right in the heart of the activity. By having a deep knowledge and understanding of the region and its subcontractors, Market & Johnson can offer its frac sand customers the best level of service possible. The experience the company has gained regionally has opened up possibilities nationally and allowed the company to expand its services further down the supply chain. “There’s a huge benefit from a resource standpoint,” Plante says.
Experience is Key
Even with these advantages already in its favor, Market & Johnson needed to find a partner with real experience in the frac sand market. It found one in Gulf Coast-based Alston Equipment and its owner, Jeff Alston. Market & Johnson Project Manager Dan Koxlien says Alston Equipment was the perfect fit for Market & Johnson.
After working together on an industrial minerals project, Alston Equipment asked Market & Johnson if the company would be interested in continuing their partnership on future projects, Alston says. “They’re a great organization, very customer-oriented,” he adds.
A typical collaboration involves Alston Equipment providing process design and engineering for a plant, with Market & Johnson providing the mechanical installation. Alston says Market & Johnson’s complete suite of services makes it an ideal partner for Alston Equipment. “They have all the project management experience in-house,” he says. “They have accounting, and they have all the software related to construction management.”
Likewise, Alston Equipment’s expertise in the frac sand market makes it an ideal fit for Market & Johnson, as well. “The biggest thing is the experience,” Koxlien says.
As a veteran of more than 15 frac sand projects throughout the country, Alston Equipment has the technical expertise to help Market & Johnson succeed, but it’s how that expertise fits into the company’s approach that makes the most difference.
“The key to all these projects is the process flow and the equipment that controls that process flow, and Jeff [Alston] brings that experience,” Plante says.
Having everything in place the way Market & Johnson does is very important in the industrial minerals market, where quality is of the utmost importance to owners. Koxlien says the company is well aware of the quality standards the industry expects.
Market & Johnson and Alston Equipment’s combined skills are essential when working in the frac sand and industrial minerals market because so many variables have the potential to throw a wrench into the process. For example, Koxlien says, because such projects are capital-intensive, they can lie dormant for a long time and then start up abruptly. “We don’t know exactly when we are going to start construction until the last minute, and a lot of that has to do with the owners ability to obtain their capital funding,” he says.
So far, Market & Johnson has been able to keep up with the market, and it has carved out a niche for itself with the help of Alston Equipment.
Plante says that as long as the industry continues to thrive across the country, Market & Johnson expects to continue being a significant player. “We’ve built a lot of good relationships,” he says.