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Company Reports - MasTec North America  


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MasTec North America

Where strength is diversity

Written by Gabe Perna and Produced by Ken Dion

It took a long, incredible journey to simply form MasTec North America - a company with roots dating back to before The Great Depression.
Where strength is diversity

It took a long, incredible journey to simply form MasTec North America - a company with roots dating back to before The Great Depression.

In 1929, Russell Burnup and Riley Sims formed a telecommunications and civil construction company in Florida called Burnup and Sims. In 1969, Jorge Mas Canosa went to work for Church & Tower, an underground utility construction firm. By 1971, Mas Canosa bought the firm. The two companies merged on March 11, 1994, when publicly-traded Burnup & Sims acquired Church & Tower. MasTec, under the guidance of Jorge Mas, was officially born.

Now the leading specialty contractor for communications companies, utilities and governments throughout the United States, MasTec is one of the most influential, dominant companies in its sector, operating with an impressive national scope. With approximately 8,400 employees across the country in multiple locations, MasTec brings in more than US $1 billion in revenue each year.

MasTec has also steadily grown in the amount of services it provides customers. As a specialty contractor for many leading communications companies, utilities and government groups, MasTec designs, builds, installs, maintains and upgrades telephone, high-speed internet, satellite install to the home, electric, water, sewer and natural gas infrastructure as well as renewable energy, including wind.

Furthermore, its subsidiaries add even more diversity. Through nSoro it does wireless work; with Wanzek, it's involved in renewable energy; and with the addition of Pumpco it has expanded in the pipeline construction industry.

MasTec's wide array of services has enabled it to work with major companies including DirecTV, Verizon, AT&T, EMBARQ, ONCOR, Progress Energy, and Florida Power & Light. Senior Vice President and head of the utilities division, Gary Smith, says without a doubt the company's greatest strength is its diversity.

"I think whether it's our group or all of MasTec, it is the diversity of services and industries that we serve that set us apart. We've got an energy group doing overhead and transmission, we have a group doing wireless, we're in petroleum and pipeline, we're working with wind farms, working with solar and other alternative sources of energy ...[like] ethanol, and we're in the realm of distribution-side communications, broadband and fiber optics, as well as satellite installs to homes. It's the overall diversity from all of MasTec and our group," says Smith.

When it comes down to it, the MasTec process can be summed up in four words: design, build, install and maintain. Within each of its groups, MasTec emphasizes this end-to-end solutions philosophy. Smith, who along with Group President Bryan Westerman heads up the utilities division, says by providing turnkey solutions MasTec can cut out time and money and thus increase efficiency.

Within MasTec's utility group, the company provides a number of specialized services. This includes electric distribution, natural gas pipeline, water and sewer infrastructure construction and wind energy infrastructure construction and a whole lot more.

Westerman says it works on an abundance of varying projects. "We do large, midstream transmission projects, petroleum station projects, natural gas gathering projects, long haul communication projects and fiber-to -the-home upgrades. The fiber to the premise (FTTP) projects include individual homes, multi-dwelling units and MTUs. MTUs are business units where you do fiber to the premise or, in some cases, fiber to the node. We're doing metro fiber rings which typically will be related to providing service to business or cell sites," says Westerman.

In keeping up with the industry, Westerman says the company is an enthusiastic member of a number of industry associations. The big ones include the Distribution Contractors Association (DCA), the Power and Communication Contractors Association (PCCA) and the Associated General Contractors (AGC). Westerman, who is a board member of the PCCA, says the company works with other more regional associations as well.

MasTec, in both the utilities group and overall, perpetually invests in technology. Smith says the company has made a lot of equipment purchases and upgrades in recent years including new directional drills, excavators, trucks of various sizes, sidebooms and trenchers. He says it also looks for software upgrades as well.

"Our own in-house IT department is constantly working on our own network as far as what software we run and on our operating system. We try to continue with FTTP trends by going to conferences and keeping ourselves updated that way," says Smith.

The high level of responsibility MasTec has towards its employees is paramount. The company exemplifies this through its arduous safety programs. Smith says the firm employs a group-wide safety manager who works as a resource with managers on standardizing policies and procedures. In addition, the company has safety inspectors at its various locations throughout the country.

"Our philosophy on safety is it's everybody's responsibility every single day. We absolutely emphasize it," says Westerman. Additionally, according to the corporate website, the company makes employees go through mandatory training and skill-level improvement programs which stress safety.

Training on safety is not the only type of learning done in-house at MasTec. Smith says the company has a management training program where it teaches foreman-level employees and above in business practices. This gives employees an opportunity to prepare for advancement and move up in the company. For MasTec, employees are its most important asset.

"Our people are our assets. Without the superintendents and project managers, we couldn't do anything. Without the operators and laborers doing the actual work, doing the actual underground construction, we'd be nothing," concludes Smith.

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