At a Glance
Steamboat Springs, CO
Civil infrastructure work, concrete contracting
In a small town such as Steamboat Springs, Colorado, where the closest big city (Denver) is a three-hour drive away, infrastructure projects present their own programmatic challenges. Informed by nearly 60 years of experience in the area, though, Duckels Construction has not only pinpointed the specific demands of working such jobs in a remote, mountainous region; it has also established itself so strongly that it is now quite likely to win whatever local projects it bids on, regardless of the scale.
“Duckels is a family-owned construction company,” says Derick Duckels, the vice president and a third-generation member of the firm. “My father and grandfather started the company back in 1956 and grew it into what it is today.”
Depending on its project load and the stability of the economy, Duckels Construction sees an annual revenue of anywhere between $5 million and $20 million—a substantial fluctuation that reflects how different the seasons can be in the region. Steamboat Springs is on the western slope of the Continental Divide, nestled in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, so Duckels Construction’s project calendar is sparse during Western Colorado’s snowy winter months and loaded during the warm summer months. “In our busy seasons, we can have as many as 200 employees, but in our off seasons, we can get as low as 20,” Duckels says. The area can have more than 400 inches of snow annually, so odd-job work such as snow removal keeps the firm’s permanent staff busy and helps generate extra revenue, but the summertime projects are the ones that really pay off.
Top 5 Infrastructure Projects by Duckels
1. Bob the Bridge. Built with a tongue-in-cheek name in Avon, Colorado, in 1992, this project earned Duckels Construction a Contractor of the Year award.
2. James Brown Soul Center of the Universe Bridge. Brown attended the christening of this bridge built in Steamboat Springs in 1993.
3. Vail roundabouts. Duckels Construction oversaw the building and landscaping of these street elements in Vail, CO, another international resort area.
4. Steamboat Springs Base Area Improvements Project. The firm completed this five-year, $10 million project in 2012. The revitalized Steamboat base camp will help boost tourism.
5. State road and highway work. The firm’s roadwork includes a recent Colorado Department of Transportation emergency landslide mitigation project on Cameron Pass (at a 10,000-foot elevation), part of State Highway 14 in northern Colorado.
Weather aberrations aside, Duckels Construction’s experience and standing in the region allows the company to stay competitive in everything from concrete work and bridge construction to roadwork and utilities. “It’s a different environment up here,” Duckels says. “You have a lot more variables to account for, such as rock and extreme cold temperatures. And from a cost-of-living perspective, it’s hard for companies from outside the area to put guys up here. This works as an advantage for us.”
Duckels Construction’s strong presence has helped it earn and complete work on local projects both large and small, including, most recently, the $10 million, five-year Steamboat Base Area Improvements Project, which was conducted in four separate phases and won awards from the American Public Works Association and Engineering News-Record. The project revitalized Steamboat’s ski-area base camp through public improvements in order to boost year-round tourism—the region’s primary industry.
“This project started with improving infrastructure and building roundabouts,” Duckels says. “The project also included a lot of high-end finishes—gold-standard finishes—to bring our mountain area up to par with other world-class resorts through natural stonework, exten-sive landscaping, colored concrete, and a snow-melted promenade that connects the entire bottom of the mountain.”
Additionally, for the project, Duckels Construction built a structure that will divert a natural creek—which previously ran underground—through the ski area. The structure will bring the creek above ground in the summer, and the new creek bed will include waterfalls, lighting, and pedestrian-friendly shore and wading areas.
Because of its region, Duckels Construction will assuredly face more weather fluctuations and accompanying economic challenges in the future, but the firm looks forward to continually confronting these obstacles in order to complete more of the projects it already knows so well. “We’re looking at a lot of government and community-funded projects right now—and any other infrastructure work,” Duckels says. “It’s what we’re good at.” ABQ