Weaver-Bailey Contractors was founded on quality, integrity, and a strong commitment to clients, staff, and suppliers. The company continues to uphold these values sixty years after the company was created by brothers-in-law Voyne Weaver and Joe Bailey in Little Rock, the capital city of Arkansas.
“We are the smallest – and the largest – mainline concrete paving company in the state, as we’re the only one based in Arkansas,” says company President Don Weaver. He has been involved in much of the company’s growth, together with his father, majority owner Charlie Weaver.
The company performed residential works such as concrete slabs, curbs, and gutters in the early days but grew quickly, incorporating in 1967. Charlie bought a stake in the business at that time, while younger brother Fred became company president.
By 1969, call for quality concrete increased, and Weaver-Bailey acquired a small ready-mix business, recognizing the potential of the company and its half-dozen concrete trucks. Charlie then embarked on expanding the company’s numbers of employees and machinery and establishing concrete plants across the central portion of the state.
In 1971, with the ready-mix operation fully functional and expanding, Charlie Weaver brought slip-form concrete paving to Arkansas when the company bought the first slip-form curb and gutter machine in the state.
In the 1980s, Charlie Weaver bought outstanding shares in the business and another ready-mix company. “With the acquisition, the group of family businesses were soon able to provide a variety of products and services including ready-mix concrete, earthwork, underground utilities, and concrete paving for residential developments and businesses,” according to company history.
Weaver-Bailey began to move into large highway construction projects, expanding its capabilities and reach throughout the last thirty years. It now works within a two hundred-mile radius of Little Rock, and one of these infrastructure projects, a $57 million job on a stretch of Interstate, was at the time, the biggest contract awarded by the state’s department of transportation.
Just eight years later, in 2010, the company completed five years of work on the $100 million ‘Big Rock Interchange,’ ahead of schedule. The project “stands as a testament to Weaver-Bailey’s capabilities,” according to the company.
Additionally, Weaver-Bailey Contractors recently completed a two-year, $87-million highway project that converted four-and-a-half miles of two-lane road into three lanes with concrete shoulders. The section of US Highway 67, between the cities of Cabot and Jacksonville, required around 325,000 square yards of concrete and over 66,000 linear feet of barrier wall.
“We have done numerous $20 million to $50 million projects, mainly around Little Rock rebuilding interstates, because concrete pavement is our specialty,” says Weaver.
Cities, local municipalities, highway departments, and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) are among its largest customers. “We have done twenty-two or twenty-three projects at Little Rock Airport since I’ve been around,” states Weaver. “They are all concrete,” he says.
“Our largest by-volume job was 160 acres for Union Pacific back in 1998.” The massive Intermodal yard in Marion, Arkansas needed 650,000 square yards of concrete and was the largest paving job in the state.
All of this has led to the firm receiving many awards for its concrete work including that of the Bill and Hillary Clinton National airport taxiways from the American Concrete Institute’s Arkansas chapter in 2017 and gold winner for excellent concrete pavement construction in the divided highway (rural) category for the I-30 Highway 70-west project in 2016 from the American Concrete Pavement Association’s Arkansas chapter.
Weaver-Bailey has anywhere from 80 to 150 employees depending on the workload and season. Earthwork superintendents, concrete superintendents, foremen, operators, concrete finishers, and others are all committed to the company’s mission: “To establish a significant role in the advancement of infrastructure by providing the highest quality concrete product in the industry.”
The company acknowledges that it needs future generations on board and is active with workforce development initiatives. “We are heavily involved in the Arkansas Chapter of the Associated General Contractors of America,” says Chief Financial Officer Jon Stalnaker. “Within the AGC, we are partnering on initiatives that focus on educating high school students about the career opportunities in the construction profession. It’s important these students realize that you can have a very successful and rewarding career with a lot less student debt in the construction industry.”
One of the company’s most recent recruitment tools is a presentation at the University of Arkansas – Little Rock which it has done for the past two years. The presentation gives Weaver-Bailey the opportunity to introduce itself to students, inform them about its projects, and, most importantly, address the lack of knowledge around heavy highway construction.
“Educational institutions focus on vertical construction – buildings – but not as much on horizontal – roads and bridges – so that will be a big focus,” says Stalnaker.
This has resulted in its involvement with the ‘Be Pro Be Proud’ program, a joint venture between the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce and the Associated Industries of Arkansas (ASCC/AIA), began in 2016 and encourages youth to consider skilled jobs.
A seventy-eight-foot long mobile workshop travels the state, stopping at schools, businesses and various events, offering demonstrations and information about workplace training, available positions, and details about in-demand work including welders, machinists, tool and die makers, computer-numerical control machine (CNC) operators, and other skilled trades.
High school students get hands-on experience with different jobs via simulators on-board the vehicle. “There are welding stations, pipefitting stations, robotic arms, and truck drivers, so it’s got a lot of national attention,” says Weaver. The eighteen-wheeler trailer is already booking for the Fall 2020 semester, and a second vehicle was added last year.
Additionally, the company partners with ‘I Build America,’ which describes itself as “a national movement focused on building pride in the construction industry, educating the public about the value of construction and recruiting the next generation of construction professionals.”
However, for Weaver-Bailey, retaining employees is as important as attracting new ones. The company fosters a “safety first”, positive workplace and hosts a variety of employee and family-oriented events including job-site cookouts, fishing trips, an annual Christmas party, day at the horse races, and a Travelers’ baseball game.
From a personal development perspective, the business is developing a career ladder that outlines career paths and the skills employees will need to advance. The company is also developing an array of internal courses such as plan reading and operator introductions to assist with employee development.
The company is also streamlining operations and moving away from paper to digital platforms with the help of software products from construction software firm Heavy Construction Systems Specialists (HCSS). “We use their products for all our job sites, all the way from the office to the field,” notes Weaver. “They have shop maintenance products, job reporting products, and we use them for estimating. We use it all the way from starting a job to finishing the job.”
As the company will be celebrating its sixtieth anniversary, it is working on a logo to appear on company shirts and will host events throughout the year honoring employees.
The future of the well-respected business will be in good hands with a team of “bright, young individuals,” says Weaver. “My team is young and very ambitious, and my goal is to guide them in establishing a strong foundation for the company to grow in the future. I’m confident in my team and that we are focusing on the right areas to continue our success.”