Reece Albert Inc. is one of the largest contractors in west Texas, with more than 450 employees working on projects for the Texas Department of Transportation, the United States Air Force, and the Corps of Engineers, as well as private and commercial jobs across the state.
But the company came from humble beginnings in San Angelo in 1940, doing sidewalk work for Goodfellow Air Force Base with just one pickup truck and one tractor.
Reece Albert was an assistant city engineer for the city of San Angelo before breaking out to form the construction company, which now provides roller compacted concrete, earthwork, hot mix paving, concrete paving and structures, underground utilities, design-build work, and airport construction.
His son, Roger Albert, now runs the business and its sister operation, CSA Materials Inc., as President and CFO, along with his cousin Lon Albert, Vice President of Operations. CSA Materials crushes all the rock and produces all the hot mix for Reece Albert in an area in which there are no other commercial suppliers.
“My dad always made it a family-oriented company, and we’ve tried our best to keep that type of atmosphere ongoing,” Roger Albert said. “I tell my employees all the time that they’re the ones that make this company, not me.”
Reece Albert has had its hand in approximately 98 or 99 percent of all the highways that run through the San Angelo area, Roger said, as well as about 95 percent of the subdivisions.
But one thing Roger prides himself on is Reece Albert’s tire test facilities, including roads, and skid pads, which they started building in the 1960s.
“We have built the majority of the test facilities in Texas, starting with the Goodyear Proving Grounds here in San Angelo,” he said. “We worked quite a bit with Firestone at Fort Stockton, Cooper Tires in Pearsall, down near San Antonio, and Bridgestone in Uvalde. We are real proud of the fact that we can build those test facilities.
The Goodyear Proving Grounds are the largest of six such global facilities for Goodyear, spread out across 11.25 square miles of west Texas. The company tests about 23,000 tires per year over 58 miles of roads.
Reece Albert also built a Vehicle Dynamic Area for Bridgestone that tests the wet grip and handling of their tires on a 900- by 500-foot asphalt pad with a one-percent slope.
“We had to build it so that water will run across the entire pad at the depth of a nickel,” Roger said. “That’s quite a tight tolerance, but our guys were able to do it. I think we’ve got a niche. These tire companies have tried to hire other guys because of costs, and they’ve generally called us after the fact and asked us to come finish or fix those facilities.”
Reece Albert workers are also proud of the work they do and the projects they build.
Antonio Garcia, a breakdown operator who has worked for Reece Albert for two and a half years, said he used to see the large equipment on the side of the road and picture himself operating it.
“I came here with zero experience in construction,” Garcia said. “I started off as a flagger, and now I can run a couple of machines. It’s a good learning experience. It’s hands-on – they get out there and they teach you. Everything I do in construction, I’ve learned in this company.”
Wally Jones, the concrete Project Manager, has been with Reece Albert for 12 years and has worked for companies that Reece Albert acquired for his entire career.
“To this day, I still enjoy getting on a piece of equipment from time to time and getting my hands dirty,” Jones said. “My guys know that if something happens, if we get in a bind or something breaks down and I need to get in there and help them, I will. It’s important as a leader to show them that I’m no better than they are; I’m just in a different position. It’s a good motivator, and it shows a lot of respect.”
Craig Odom, Paving Manager and Vice President for the San Angelo area, said Reece Albert has always prided itself on being family friendly and helping new workers develop in the construction industry.
Odom started as a design engineer for the TXDOT highway department before joining Reece Albert.
“The great thing that I see in Reece Albert for the guy that comes out of high school and starts day one, is that there are opportunities,” he said. “If you have the ability to do it, the drive, and demonstrate the competency, we’ll put you to work. There’s a need and there are holes to fill. If you’re willing to put in the time and effort and care about the job and diligently work towards it, there’s a path in construction.”
Kevin Andrews knows that first hand. Less than a year after joining Reece Albert – and the construction industry – the laborer is already seeing great improvements in his work, as well as pride in his job.
“I’m learning so much,” Andrews said. “I’ve got a good boss, and everybody on the crew is right there with you, wanting to help you rather than criticize you if they see you doing something wrong.”
Andrews ensures the seams between new and old asphalt are smooth so that cars don’t experience major bumps traveling from old onto new roads.
He said his job has made him appreciate roads and what it takes to build them.
“I think construction is beauty,” Andrews said. “A lot of people look down the highway that they’re driving on and they don’t see the beauty in it, but when I come down the highway, I see the beauty in it. I look at the edges, I feel for the bumps, I look at the painted lines and I know what they’re for and what they took. That’s beautiful to me.”
That’s something Odom can appreciate as well. He said Reece Albert has always been known for quality, and it’s something the owners stress every day.
Odom said there is only one way to continue the reputation for quality performance, and Reece Albert hires the right people for the job.
“It really comes down to the heart of the people who work for us and their commitment to doing the highest level of work possible,” he said. “You can implement all kinds of policies and procedures, but it really comes down to the people and their willingness to strive for excellence.”
Roger Albert said he commits to every customer that they will do the project 100 percent right, even if it means they lose money in the end. He said the traveling public sees the company name on the equipment during the job and will blame them if something isn’t perfect, even if the fault is in the design and not the construction.
“I don’t want a shabby job out there,” he said. “Whatever it takes – I don’t care if we have to rebuild it twice – we’ll do it for the same money and do it right, and it will be there for a long time.”
Roger also commits his company to safety in all aspects. It’s so important that they shut down work for one day every year to hold a Safety Day, during which the company brings all the employees to San Angelo for a day of discussion on current safety topics, with speakers, door prizes, food, and more.
In the past, the company’s safety record wasn’t so great, so they created a safety program to improve Reece Albert’s accident and severity rates.
“Safety is the company’s paramount focus,” Odom said. “It’s a big part of our focus, and I think that should instill some pride in the company and make the employees feel like they matter. Ultimately it’s about making sure that the guy who is working hard out there gets to go home every night uninjured and see his wife and kids. It’s a job; you shouldn’t be putting your life on the line.”
Roger Albert said that kind of thinking is what continues the great tradition of the company his father founded 76 years ago, and he hopes an Albert will still be running the business when it celebrates 100 years.
“I’m real proud of what my dad put together,” he said. “Pride in construction is everything in my mind. Do it right the first time, be proud of what you’ve done, and let people know that you did it.”