The silver lining
Since its inception, Silver Star Construction has continually looked to the brighter side of any challenge and that is what has pushed the company towards consistent success
Silver Star has come a long way since Steve Shawn began with a small dump truck delivering sand to builders back in the late 70s under the name Steve’s Truck and Tractor. After working the tracks for a few years, he was able to expand the dirt work operation to include soil stabilization and also made additional changes to the company branding to dub his business Silver Star Construction Co Inc.
By 1992, the company grew to 36 employees and was specializing in minor excavation work, soil stabilization and trucking. In June of the same year, Craig Parker jumped on board as a partner and brought asphalt paving operations to Silver Star’s services. We speak with him to learn more about how the company has continued to develop, despite the challenges that have been imposed on the construction industry during his tenure. “In the year that I started with Silver Star, we installed our first asphalt plant, Paving Materials Inc, which helped us to further expand the company so that by 2000, we had over 100 employees and had added asphalt laydown, concrete and mass excavation crews,” Craig highlights.
The company continued to sustain its upward trajectory so that by 2008, it had over 150 people on its payroll. It was around this time that Steve and Craig decided to take a leap and put in place a succession plan that led them to sell their shares in the company to the Employee Stock Ownership Plan, which turned Silver Star into a 100 per cent employee-owned business. “In September of 2011, we added Accurate Points Surveying LLC, an in-house licensed surveying company and we appointed Doug Alford, who is a licensed surveyor hailing from Oklahoma, as the head of business,” he explains for us.
In February of 2015, Silver Star was able to branch the business out even further when Dale Hokett joined the company and started a bridge and drainage division, R&H Bridge, which opened up job opportunities for three additional crews. This side of the business provides everything from small drainage projects to full open-span bridges. “At this time, Silver Star and all our affiliated companies had between 215 and 235 employees. We offered surveying, clearing and grubbing, demolition, mass dirt work, soil stabilization, fine grading, concrete paving, asphalt paving, drainage and bridge work, along with municipal public work crews,” Craig adds.
Amongst Silver Star’s facility expansions, the business has naturally invested in key infrastructure to improve its efficiency. Craig informs us that the company incorporated the use of 3D modelling into all its dirt operations and uses GPS guidance for grading, concrete paving, as well as curb and gutter layouts. “We have brought in live monitoring for all our bulk material hauling, which includes analytic reporting to show planners how effectively we work during any given day, and what improvements can be made to be more cost-effective,” Craig notes. He goes on to add that the asphalt equipment for the pavers has recently been updated to include intelligent compaction and infrared monitoring.
In light of these impressive expansions, which are clearly a result of the business’s success over the past four decades, Silver Star still prioritizes its long-standing belief in supporting its community. With a passion for outreach work, the company started a community team about ten years ago and allowed those involved to develop their own goals to give back to Oklahoma City. “As management, we support them in every way we can, both financially and with any guidance we can offer. They organize around three to four fundraisers a year, which support five to six different community projects in the same time frame. These could range from food banks, to pet shelters and even safe houses for teenagers. I really can’t stress how successful this team has become and how proud we are to have them doing such great work,” Craig shares with us.
The community team is not the only area in which Silver Star is dedicated to assisting its community. In October 2020, one of the most damaging ice storms ravaged through Oklahoma City, leaving approximately 300,000 citizens without electricity, and at least 40,000 still unable to connect to functioning power utilities ten days after the fact. When the storm eased, numerous areas faced streets covered in debris, broken branches and telephone poles. Many citizens had to pull together to assist in the clean-up and at the forefront of the recovery phase was none other than Silver Star. “We are a municipal street department for two cities, Moore and Mustang, and the backup emergency responder for the Midwest City, so over a 120-day period, we managed to get all the debris cleared and the area restored to the best that we could,” Craig says.
This natural disaster came during the time when the world was experiencing a storm of a completely different kind – the Covid-19 pandemic, yet Silver Star also managed to bring its team together to ensure its durability through the difficulties of 2020. Like most companies, the business had to quickly adjust and implement new safety policies. “We closed off access to the offices and had about 25 per cent of our office staff working from home. That measure only lasted about eight weeks and then we slowly began to bring people back into the office. We do still have very limited access to our office facilities, but with how things are going, that will be changing soon,” Craig highlights. On the field operations side, the business had to adapt to minimize the number of people in crew trucks, which placed a burden on others who had to drive their own vehicles to job sites. However, when that restriction was lifted, crew trucks were able to increase to a 60 per cent capacity.
A particular challenge that Silver Star faced involved instances when a crew family member tested positive with Covid-19, forcing the business to shut down for two weeks at a time. Nonetheless, the company adjusted to ensure the well-being of its employees was prioritized, and in doing so, Silver Star remained profitable with the help of its determined and dedicated team.
On a lighter note, another exciting way in which the company has been adapting involves the incorporation of the total process reliability (TPR) system. “This has been a real culture change for the company. We started down this road about one and a half years ago and back then we were told that full implementation would take between four and five years. Fortunately, we are slightly ahead of that schedule. Our warehouse and shop facilities have seen their operations improve dramatically and are completely on board to continue with this investment. It’s changing our operator training and maintenance, and the foremen are really liking the changes,” Craig expresses.
Regardless of the challenge, Silver Star remains devoted to guarantee excellent workmanship through the ways in which it conducts business. No matter what accommodations need to be made to ensure its success, the company’s hopeful prospect for continued growth in the industrial stabilization and asphalt paving sectors is setting it in good stead to provide leading services. We look forward to seeing what new ventures Silver Star will take on in the upcoming years.
Silver Star Construction Co Inc
Services: Paving contractor