Thriving in the Sunshine State

Peavy & Son Construction
Written by Nate Hendley

Peavy & Son Construction operates out of Havana, Florida, a small town in the northern part of the Sunshine State, very near the border with Georgia. The firm specializes in road resurfacing and works on everything from highways to city streets, residential roads, parking lots and even runaways for airplanes. Asphalt and concrete are two of its main building materials…
The company has also taken part in bridge construction projects and is licensed to do underground utilities work. Clients range from private developers, to universities and government agencies.

“We have the equipment, manpower, knowledge and expertise to handle the largest and most complex projects,” proclaims the Peavy & Son website.

Indeed, Peavy is in a prime position at present. Florida’s population is increasing as the economy recovers from the 2008 to 2009 recession. Meanwhile, the state’s transportation system continues to grow. While it sounds almost cliché in a part of the U.S. renowned for good weather, the future most definitely looks bright for Peavy.

The firm’s founder, M.D. Peavy III, attended Abraham Baldwin College in Tifton, Georgia. Following graduation, he worked for an irrigation company for eight years in Havana, Florida during the 1960s. In 1968, at the age of twenty-seven, he left the irrigation company to join his father at his existing construction business: Peavy & Hitson Construction Company. Shortly thereafter, the partnership was dissolved, and the company was incorporated in July 1974 as Peavy & Son Construction.

The early focus of the firm was on heavy equipment excavation for land clearing, earth moving, pond building. The company continued doing construction work but added a fleet of dump trucks to haul various materials for clients. Also in the mid-1970s, the company acquired an asphalt plant, so it could make its own asphalt for paving projects.

In April, 1977, Peavy III bought his father’s stock out and became the sole owner of the company. Over the years, he has earned a reputation for civic involvement, sponsoring the Havana National Tractor Pull and little and adult-league baseball games, among other activities, as well as serving as a member of the President’s Club at Florida State University.

The company’s current management includes Peavy III’s son, Delacy Peavy IV, who works as general superintendent and vice president. One of Peavy IV’s more memorable jobs with the firm involved managing a paving project in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba for the U.S. Navy. At present, he supervises all of the company’s asphalt projects.

Other members of the company’s core staff have spent decades with the firm, a reflection of company loyalty. Since it started, Peavy & Son has gone from being a very small operation to having one hundred employees but it is still run as a family-owned business. Annual revenues have increased from under a million dollars to over $20 million. The company says it has completed 230 projects for “150 happy clients.”

The company was affected by the devastating 2008 recession, as were many firms in the construction sector. It is getting back on its feet, however and looking to move forward by emphasizing efficiency and diversification. The firm is considering an expansion of its utilities operations, doing more heavy production jobs and working in a leaner, stronger fashion than before. In many ways, the recession sharpened the company’s focus and made it a stronger operation.

Peavy & Son’s client base is diverse, to say the least. Most—but not all—of the company’s customers are based in its home state. Past and current clients include the Florida Department of Transportation (F.D.O.T.), the Republic of Cuba, the City of Tallahassee, the City of Quincy, Leon County, Gadsden County, Wakulla County, Jefferson County, Madison County, the Golden Eagle Home-Owners Association, High Grove Home Owners Association, Killearn Estates, the town of Havana, Florida A&M University, Florida State University, Governor’s Square Mall and the Tallahassee Regional Airport.

Many of the company projects undertaken over the years involve the laying or smoothing out asphalt. Various vehicles, from dump trucks, to wheel loaders and asphalt paving machines from the likes of construction equipment manufacturing giant CAT, are employed in the roadwork.

“We value our clients at Peavy and strive to meet their requirements within the parameters they request. We have many years of experience working with local, state and government agencies as well partnering with private firms to provide solutions to our clients. Whatever it takes to get the job done, we get it done,” states the company.

One of Peavy’s main clients is the Florida Department of Transportation, and it has done several projects for this department. Last year, for example, the company began a construction contract for the F.D.O.T. worth $8.8 million in Madison County, working on State Road (S.R.) 8. Another contract, started in 2014 and also on S.R. 8 (though for a different segment) was worth $5.1 million. More recent gigs from this year have seen it begin work on S.R. 63 in Leon County (a $1.8 million assignment) and S.R. 363 in Wakulla County (a project worth $2.0 million). Details of these contracts are available on the website of the F.D.O.T.

Peavy & Son retains a strong degree of loyalty to its customers; it also tries to foster long-term relationships with its suppliers through fair dealing. It’s a good business practice and one that has allowed it to develop a positive reputation in supplier circles.

The company does face challenges. It can be difficult to find people in the company’s geographic region with the particular skill-set necessary for doing proper asphalt work or driving dump trucks for that matter. Also, skilled people have left the construction sector since the 2008 slowdown in the economy. The Florida Department of Transportation is also presenting some intriguing challenges to construction firms in general. In order to minimize inconvenience to traffic and citizens, the department now requests that contractors on F.D.O.T. jobs to do work at night when possible. Night work of course poses difficulties in terms of sleepy workers and lack of visibility, but Peavy & Son is more than up to this challenge.

As for the future, Peavy & Son is looking for slow, measured growth. The firm is incorporating GPS technology into its operations. Beyond its reputation for doing good work (It has won awards for the smoothness of its paving) the company has a competitive edge in being one of a handful of paving firms in their area with in-house asphalt production. In fact, Peavy & Son has its own laboratory and in-house asphalt designer, which helps when it comes to getting its mixes approved by the F.D.O.T.

The company also has the benefit of being in a state that has a big population and strong economy. According to Enterprise Florida, Inc. (EFI), a self-described “public-private partnership between Florida’s business and government leaders” the Sunshine State currently has the fourth largest economy in the United States. With nearly twenty million people, Florida recently overtook New York as the United States’ third most populous state. A further 7.4 million residents are expected by year 2045. Florida also sees over one hundred million tourists a year, all of which, combined with a strong economy, means a high demand for roads, highways, bridges and other paved structures or improvements to existing facilities.

As for the transportation system itself, the state boasts 122,392 miles of highway, 7,282 miles of bicycle facilities, 3,276 miles of pedestrian facilities, 12,225 bridges and 779 airports, according to the Florida D.O.T. The same department notes that in 2014, some 201 billion auto vehicle miles were traveled on roads in the state while 149 million passengers used state airline facilities. In 2015, some $1 billion in freight was transported within Florida, a figure expected to climb to $2.1 billion in 2045.

“Florida has the eighteenth-largest economy in the world. Investments in Florida’s transportation assets are investments in the backbone of the state’s economy … Florida has invested billions into its transportation system. Regular maintenance and improvement keeps these assets operating efficiently, extending useful life and delaying the substantial costs of reconstruction,” notes a “Fast Facts” report on Florida’s transportation system, from the F. D.O.T.

The same report notes that eighty-seven percent of construction projects in Florida are completed on time while ninety percent are completed on budget.

All of which spells a growing need for a lot of asphalt, concrete and the services of road construction contractors such as Peavy & Son.



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