Published on November 21st, 2016 | by UC&D Magazine0
Continuing a Legacy
W.W. Clyde & Co. mark 90 years with a reverence to its founder, and an eye firmly committed to future success.
Wilford W. Clyde – known simply as W.W. – had a steely reputation as a gruff, no-nonsense man who prided himself on getting things done and doing them right.
As the company who bears his name – W.W. Clyde & Co. – celebrates its 90th anniversary this year, grandson Wilford Clyde and great-grandson Jeff Clyde remember their grandfather as someone who wouldn’t settle for anything less than perfection when it came to building heavy/ civil construction projects.
“I can remember being around him quite a bit,” said Jeff, 57, President of the firm since 2012, which recently moved from its long-time office in Springville to a sparkling new headquarters in Orem. “He was very intimidating. You would always show great respect to him and mind your P’s and Q’s. Our mission statement – Building a Better Community – it’s not done just through projects, we encourage our people to be involved in the communities they live in and look for service projects they can perform. (W.W.) believed in being actively involved in community events, valuing people, and always giving a full measure. Our word is our bond.”
“He was very no-nonsense,” said Wilford, 63, President of Clyde Companies (formed in 1997), the parent company for W.W. Clyde & Co., Geneva Rock Products, Sunroc Corporation, Sunroc Building Materials, and Beehive Insurance Agency. “He was a little on the gruff side. I was a little afraid of him even though I grew up across the street from him (in Springville). He was very direct and to the point and he told you what he thought. Over the years, I’ve heard a lot of stories how he helped people…he had a softer side than I realized.”
W.W. Clyde founded his company in 1926 in Springville at his farmhouse, before purchasing an 11,500 SF steel building on a site near Provo Foundry and moving to its north Springville office in 1939, where it was located until the move to its new Orem headquarters in August. True to W.W.’s character, he had the old house at the Clyde family farm moved to the new site until a more permanent structure was built. The decision to move company headquarters to Orem after 90 years was not an easy decision, given the importance of Springville to the entire Clyde family.
“Our family has been in Springville since the early 1850’s – I have a certain pride in the city,” said Wilford, who has served as Mayor since 2009 and will conclude his second term next year. “We want to see our community be a good one to live in. (W.W.) was very aggressive in business and always looking for new opportunities. He started many businesses. I think he’d be pleased we’ve been able to grow and work together successfully. Not many family businesses make it to the third and fourth generations. He would probably think we’re too extravagant on some things, but I think he’d say based on this time that we’ve done a good job.”
Both Wilford and Jeff, like many within the Clyde family, started working at one of the family businesses as teenagers before gradually climbing the company ladder. Wilford started full-time in 1977 at Geneva Rock, the year after W.W. passed away at age 87, while Jeff began working summers in 1977 before ultimately going full-time with the company in 1986 after graduating from Arizona State University. Other key current leaders include Scott Okelberry (24 years at the company), Executive Vice President, and Dustin Olson (18 years), Vice President of Field Operations. Both say the firm is extremely proud of its roots, and is intent on continuing to grow and expand throughout the Intermountain west.
“We’ve always taken seriously our core values,” said Okelberry. “Our strategy is developing our people, helping them advance their careers. It’s more than just making a quick buck. If you look at where we are now versus even 10 years ago, we’ve made significant moves in areas we work in geographically and with the type and volume of work we do. We have supported a number of employees in advanced training and earning college degrees. It shows the company’s willingness to invest in its people and support those potential leaders in broadening their education. ”
“It’s about finding the right people, giving them the right tools and putting them in a position to succeed,” added Olson. “We’ve shown in the last 90 years we’ve been able to do that effectively.”
The company is one of the largest heavy/civil contractors in the state, with revenues in 2015 of $132 million. Jeff said the firm has increased revenues significantly in 2016 with projections of approximately $160 million. The firm specializes in building all types of infrastructure, including highways, roads, bridges, dams, underground pipelines, structural concrete and earthwork. Recent high-profile projects include the $80 million I-15 South Davis Interchange, Victory Pipeline Phase I & II, Pioneer Wind Farm in Casper, WY, the Cheyenne South Valley Connector in Pocatello, ID, and I-15 South Cedar City Interchange.
“If you look at the transportation market in Utah particularly, we’re seeing some steady growth, which is good for our industry,” said Jeff. “As a diversified company we’ve looked outside the public sector when possible – (the private market) is a little more difficult to project. We have to be willing to be adaptable – that’s why we’re successful. If one market isn’t doing as good, we can move into other markets.”
The company boasts 500+ employees during peak season, with continued plans to seek out future growth opportunities. Finding new people is one of the biggest challenges facing the entire construction industry, which is why the firm places so much emphasis on giving its people every opportunity possible to progress from within.
“We’ve come to realize we’ve got to do a better job of rebranding our industry,” said Jeff. “It’s forced us as a company be creative, since the industry has changed. We sit down monthly and ask ourselves ‘how do we give (employees) that experience to make sure they’re ready for that next promotion?’ That helps us overall to be more successful.”
“What drew me to the company and has kept me here is our core values,” said Okelberry. “I’ve always known it was a family-owned business and always will be. You have to know that and accept it for what it is. But I felt there was an opportunity to grow and advance and there still is opportunity for that.”
Jeff said 12 to 15 employees could retire in the next five years, which makes developing leaders internally even more important to the firm’s long-term outlook.
“We take our succession plans very seriously,” he said.