Experts in Water and Wastewater Plants

Magney Construction
Written by Robert Hoshowsky

Magney Construction’s primary focus is on the construction of high-quality water and wastewater treatment facilities. It takes on work throughout Minnesota, North and South Dakota, Wisconsin, Iowa and Montana and will occasionally perform maintenance and service work for private companies with which there is a pre-existing relationship.
Prior to forming the company bearing his name, Mark Magney grew up working in Minnesota’s construction industry. Young Magney spent summers at his father’s Minneapolis-based general contracting firm, learning construction and carpentry and was exposed to projects that would one day shape the nature of his own business, namely water and wastewater treatment plants.
He graduated with a degree in civil engineering from the University of Minnesota in 1979.

Following this, Magney worked for his father’s company as a project superintendent on several jobs before moving into the office and learning estimation and project management. After leaving the company in the mid-eighties, he worked for a large general contractor in the Twin Cities as a project manager and estimator on a number of water and wastewater treatment plants. He remained there until 1994 when he formed Magney Construction, Inc.

The widely commercial and industrial union contractor is respected throughout the industry and has successfully completed over 350 projects, ranging in value from $5,000 to $15 million. “Some of the most unique projects are deep, cast-in-place concrete sewage lift stations,” says company president Magney. “We have completed five deep lift stations using a caisson method of construction, which basically involves constructing the walls of the lift station above grade, and then excavating the center of the structure out, so the walls sink to the proper elevation. When the structure has reached the correct elevation, we then place the lower slab. Typically, these concrete structures are thirty feet square and thirty to forty feet deep.”

Magney’s staff of about forty-five includes office and shop workers, carpenters, laborers, operating engineers, cement masons and pipe fitters. With this assembly of talent, Magney Construction, Inc. can self-perform its earthwork, site utilities, concrete, carpentry, process equipment installation and process piping. By doing this, it is better able to control both costs and schedules.

The company has indeed come a very long way from 1994 when Mark took out a $50,000 second mortgage on his house to finance it. As the sole employee at the beginning, he remembers the first project vividly: an $800,000 groundwater cleanup project at a landfill site that involved the construction of a small wastewater treatment plant.

“I was the estimator, project manager and superintendent on this project,” he says of the work, which was completed in about nine months. “In the second year of business, we started getting a few more projects, and the biggest challenge was finding good, qualified superintendents and tradespeople to construct these projects.”

Magney Construction expanded throughout the 1990s, eventually running out of room and requiring more office and warehouse space. This led to the 2002 purchase of an office and warehouse building in Chanhassen, Minnesota, which has served the company well.

For its first decade, approximately seventy percent of Magney’s work involved water and water treatment plant construction, with the remaining amount being commercial and industrial building construction. As the commercial market became more competitive, the company shifted almost exclusively towards the water and wastewater treatment market in the mid-2000s. Today, approximately ninety percent of the company’s work is performed for public entities and related to water or wastewater treatment and pumping.

Magney says there is no shortage of skilled staff for the union contractor. “We are very fortunate in the upper Midwest to have an abundance of top-notch tradespeople,” says Magney. “The unions have been instrumental in training these tradespeople. We also utilize the union’s apprenticeship programs extensively to train our people.”

The company works mainly on public projects which are competitively bid and has experienced a significant annual growth of approximately twelve percent over the past fifteen years, with annual growth for the past three years at about twenty percent. Some of the drivers behind this growth are the company’s dedicated employees – many of whom have been with Magney over a decade – and the availability of water-related work.

Its work includes water treatment plants from Anoka to Mandaree; wastewater treatment plants in locations such as Austin, Bird Island, Granite Falls, Mountain Iron and St. Cloud; groundwater treatment at the East Bethel Landfill; and well houses and booster stations in Columbia Heights, Dundas and Minneapolis. Of the company’s commercial renovations, Magney has worked on a 911 emergency centre, transit garages, recycling buildings, bus garages, dental clinics, aquatic centres, elementary schools and much more.

Magney is a member of trade and professional organizations including the Associated General Contractors of Minnesota (AGC), Minnesota Utility Contractors Association (MUCA), Minnesota Society of Professional Engineers (MSPE) and the American Water Works Association (AWWA). The company continually educates its staff in areas of government regulations and safety.

The company has a proactive safety program in place and, since 2008, has completed over 100,000 hours in the field without a lost-time accident. Magney Construction takes all aspects of safety seriously for its employees. “Safety is a core value of our company,” says Magney. “All employees, from the day they start working for Magney, know that safety is paramount from top-down within our organization.”

At daily ‘pre-task’ meetings with employees and subcontractors, safety is the first topic of discussion and extends to every job site. The company’s safety director visits each project on a weekly basis to conduct a complete safety audit of the operations. Results are immediately relayed to the superintendent and project manager.

It takes on water treatment upgrades from work on pumping stations to wastewater treatment plants as well as plant and grit facility additions and commercial/industrial construction. Magney will work with a client’s architects and engineers through a project’s entire preplanning, design and construction stages including pre-construction planning, general contracting, design and build, maintenance and force account work. By acting as a single point of contact, the company ensures projects are completed on time and on budget.

The company recently completed a $15 million water treatment expansion for the City of Apple Valley, Minnesota that expanded the capacity of the plant from 18 million gallons per day to 24 million gallons per day. The project presented challenges for the company. In addition to the installation of 3,300 cubic yards of concrete, the project saw the creation of new concrete gravity filters, a concrete reclaim tank, a garage addition for municipal vehicles and a truck wash facility.

During construction, the project was built around an existing that plant that was home to the city’s complete municipal services and needed to remain in service to serve the community. This required Magney’s team to coordinate daily with operations for the City of Apple Valley. In total, the project took about two years.

Continuing to satisfy existing clients and gain new ones, Magney Construction plans to continue the growth of the company at a rate of eight to ten percent year. “We believe that any organization that does not change in some regard will begin to get stagnant,” says Magney. “With this rate of growth we will definitely expand staff, and we will continue to have our primary focus in water and wastewater treatment plant.”



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