Public Works Expertise

Capitol Underground, Inc.
Written by Robert Hoshowsky

For the past forty years, public works contractor Capitol Underground, Inc. has proudly served a wide range of water and sewer installation needs for customers in and around Madison, the capital city of the state of Wisconsin. Capitol Underground completes residential subdivision projects, public/municipal projects and private/residential/commercial projects. The company is committed to providing the highest quality work possible with an emphasis on professionalism and safety without compromise.
Capitol Underground, Inc. typically works within a sixty-mile radius of the City of Madison and has served customers in Madison, Cambridge, DeForest, Fort Atkinson, Maple Bluff, New Glarus, Verona, Watertown and many other municipalities. The company has the expertise to ensure projects are carried out on time and within budget, with the greatest respect for safety at every stage.

It becomes involved at the pre-planning stage, working closely with clients and their engineers, dedicating considerable time to skillfully planning projects and identifying any potential issues that might arise before creating a schedule of required work activities. To ensure successful project flow from the very inception, experienced field supervisors work with project team members daily.

Capitol Underground has provided quality water and sewer installations since the company was created in 1976. Founder Gordy Morauske and a business partner each invested $3,500 to purchase a John Deere tractor backhoe and began installing underground utilities serving low-income apartments for elderly residents.

The move was a sound one for Morauske, a registered Master Plumber who supervised the construction of public works facilities since 1969. Soon, the company gained a foothold in the industry and rapidly grew to become a well-respected public works contractor serving Madison and surrounding areas.

Much of the company’s success comes from its skilled staff who are dedicated to the success of Capitol Underground and its clients – many of whom are repeat customers. The company’s core group of experienced and loyal employees fully understand and appreciate customers, quality workmanship and adhering to budgets and schedules.

The company is turning the page on a new chapter in its history. “With the milestone of forty years in business for Capitol Underground this year, the founder of the company, Gordy Morauske, is continuing with his plan to proceed with retirement,” says Jim Lee, manager of business development. “His plan is to continue with a company succession plan for the next generation of ownership, which includes his two sons Tom and Joe.”

From municipal public works reconstruction projects to commercial business parks, residential subdivisions and sewage district interceptor sewers, Capitol Underground has completed all jobs successfully and efficiently. Approximately sixty-six percent of the company’s work today is public and the remaining thirty-four percent private. Most of the ownership entities in the company’s market have adopted an electronic bid method, which has resulted in a streamlined bid submission process.

“In the past several years, the value of our public contracts has exceeded our private contracts, although the private sector has gradually gained momentum in the last three to four years in our market,” says Lee. “We are optimistic that the Madison-area private sector will continue its recent growth, as we prepare to meet the increased demands. This may involve expansion of our workforce and capital investments.”

Capitol Underground has a highly-diversified portfolio of work including public/municipal projects and private/residential/commercial projects. Since the company’s work is varied, it can react to demands that may shift from public to private projects. It is an important player in public works construction services across southern Wisconsin.

Capitol Underground takes every opportunity to ensure projects are well-planned, clients are kept informed and that schedules and overall budgets are maintained.

“With the inherent dangers that accompany underground construction, it is absolutely imperative that we maintain continuous safety training/awareness/implementation throughout our company operations,” says Lee. “Our safety program is paramount to our success as a contractor and allows all of our employees to ‘buy in’ to our emphasis on safety.”

The company hosts an annual two-day safety meeting for all employees in late winter or early spring to provide safety awareness. The meeting includes training by professionals from the Associated General Contractors (AGC) of Wisconsin.

“Our membership with AGC of Wisconsin has been invaluable for our business,” says Lee, who has served on the municipal/utilities board at the AGC of Wisconsin for five years and is currently serving as the municipal/utilities board president. He also serves on the general AGC board of directors. “We have utilized their representation and/or services for a variety of issues including legal matters, labor relations and OSHA compliance.”

Employees earn credentials from Occupational Health and Safety (OSHA) for competency in trenching and excavation safety. As a result of these training initiatives, Capitol Underground employees play an active role in job site safety and can make decisions related to Capitol’s methods and safety equipment.

“As a company, we believe that communication between our superintendents, foremen and employees is crucial for an effective safety program, and it is one reason why our safety record is lauded,” comments Lee. “Our consistent low EMR (Experience Modification Rate) provides us with a competitive advantage in our market and also earns us premium refunds from our insurance provider as a result.”

Capitol Underground has the experience, equipment – it owns all of its excavation and earthmoving equipment – and training necessary to ensure success from pre-planning to the finished product. The company is known for large public and private projects, yet also performs small works including water main repairs, private sewer and water services and lead service replacements. In recent years, the company has performed several large-scale projects valued at over $3 million and is currently near completion on a $4 million reconstruction project for the City of Madison.

Included among the company’s many projects are sewers and water systems for road construction. For the large, multi-phase Cottage Grove Road and Dempsey Road reconstruction, Capitol was responsible for sanitary sewer, water main and storm sewer construction while maintaining traffic flow and access to local business for the $4,075,000 project. And for the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District west interceptor project – which saw the installation of a new sanitary sewer interceptor running through an urban municipality – the company faced challenges including groundwater, high-capacity sewer bypass, and strict trench requirements. Despite these potential obstacles, Capitol Underground completed the $1,746,000 project.

Lee credits the company’s valued relationships with subcontractors and key suppliers such as First Supply of Madison for contributing to its ongoing success and providing the company with strong, reliable service and competitive pricing.

“We have a forty-year relationship with First Supply,” states Lee. “The fact that they are a local supplier is invaluable for our needs when changes occur on a project, and we need to expedite materials to a job site. We can always trust that they will make an extra effort to meet our needs. The relationships established with our suppliers and subcontractors are also crucial in our ability to maintain construction schedules when we are up against challenges such as weather delays and factors beyond our control.”

Capitol Underground looks forward to the future as it adapts to changing market conditions. A large focus of the company’s business plan will be to maintain its current relationships and develop new ones with developers and engineers on private sector work. As private work increases, it is essential the company grow to meet market demands.

“At Capitol Underground, we go out of our way to exceed our customer’s expectations,” says Lee. “We value relationships in all aspects of our business and constantly work to enhance those relationships. They have been the backbone of our success and will continue to drive us into the future.”



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