August 12, 2016

Employee Proud

From the office to the jobsite and every interaction in between, it's evident that Q3 Contracting breeds a culture of excellence. The yard is tidy, jobsites are upbeat, and employees exude that quintessential Minnesota Nice.

Based in St. Paul, with offices and operations spanning the upper Midwest, Q3 specializes in the installation of gas and electric utilities. Its 15-year uptick of rapid growth is characterized by a willingness to take on new requests from customers. "We started out as a restoration contractor – we'd replace asphalt patches, curbs, and sidewalks." Says Q3 President, Jaeson Osborn. "From there the customer asked us to add traffic control and installation services. When they would ask us to do something, we would do it, and that's where our new growth spurt came from." But regardless of growth, the company has maintained its personality.

Stable Growth Through Strong Roots
Despite growing by double digits almost every year, Q3 hasn't lost sight of its values. "Something I take pride in is that even though we have 1,500 people at Q3, it still feels like a place that has only 200 employees. Doors are open, people are accessible, and we still listen to employees and try to make it a good place to work – kind of keep that family feel. I'm glad we haven't lost that."

From barbeques to employee-appreciation events, there's good reason Q3 puts in this extra effort. "They're our number-one resource. Employees run our equipment; they're our contact with customers. They're our heartbeat, and without them we don't have a company. That's something that's been instilled in me – it's about the guys who show up every day, work in the elements, and do it safely and productively." When it comes to Q3, there's no doubt that safety and productivity are daily values.

250,000 Man-Hours, One OSHA Filing
One of Q3's most recent and extensive jobs is a four-year project replacing 11.8 miles of 20-inch high-pressure-distribution gas lines. The biggest challenge? The line runs through the heart of downtown St. Paul – and Osborn has total faith in his team. "They're champs. They know what they're doing and take pride in it. Normally projects like this will scare you, and it did while we were bidding it, but I'm glad we've got these guys on it."

Heavily congested and populated neighborhoods, over 100-year-old roads, historic districts and regulations, narrow jobsites, City Hall, and the mayor aside, Q3 has had only three at-fault damages on the project to date. "What these guys are doing is something to be proud of." And John Deere is proud of the part its equipment plays.

The Right Tool for the Job
Every craftsman knows having the right tool for the job makes all the difference. Q3 seems to have found its fit. "On this particular jobsite we have two 245G LC Excavators, and we've found them to be almost the perfect application for our project," says Q3 Foreman Nate Wright, who's been in pipeline construction since 1966. "We have a real tight jobsite and very limited space, and they're small and negotiable enough that we can move around and still handle the capacity we need to do the job in a timely manner."

The 245G LCs do more than get the job done. As the machines hum a tune, Wright continues to sing their praises. "The operators seem to be very impressed with the ergonomics of the machines; they're very operator friendly. Also, the fuel consumption and everything that goes with them are just what we've been looking for in equipment of that size." Running the latest and greatest models isn't the only way Osborn sets up his team for success.

A Ferrari in Second Gear
Osborn ensures his workers have what they need to work efficiently by providing an iPad to each foreman. "We need our information instantly," says Osborn. "Compliance wise, we need to be able to access our employee-training records, we need to be able to communicate to our guys in real time, and ultimately we want to eliminate paper."

With a workforce spanning three generations, naysayers worried the technology would not be adopted. Osborn has proven otherwise. "We did a study after introducing the tablets, and out of everyone surveyed, 75 percent of our work force wanted to do more with it – 55 percent even gave us examples of more we could do. I embrace technology. The more people take chances on innovating themselves and moving forward with technology, the further ahead they can get from their competition."

Osborn is happy to see Deere sharing this philosophy. "They are catering to the younger generation with more automation, buttons do a lot more, and training can be done on simulators. I personally believe that Deere has been at the forefront." One particular technology Osborn sees value in is JDLink™. "With JDLink the machines will talk to you; they'll let you know if something's wrong. Especially out in smaller cities with less dealer support, this allows you to get the right part delivered."

For Osborn, logging timesheets, safety tasks, and FaceTime meetings on iPads aren't enough. He's motivated to continue implementing technology to advance Q3. "I will always compare it to driving a Ferrari in second gear. We have to get to third, fourth – we have to ride this thing. There's so much more we can do." And John Deere is committed to helping Q3
do it.

Long-Haul Support
As Q3 revs up for more projects, John Deere and its dealer network stand at the ready. "RDO has been with us since our first growth spurt," says Osborn. "They have really helped us going into new markets, so we really appreciate that relationship."

"You know, most people leave because you give them a reason to," reflects Osborn. "We see that in our industry. For us, as long as the machine keeps running, and we get that service from local dealers and John Deere Corporate, there's no reason to leave. And I think that's why you'll see us coming back."