By Kevin Ott
Mavo Concrete Sawing Provides Specialty Services To Industrial, Commercial and Residential Customers
In 2004, Paul and Judy Konkler opened Concrete Sawing Services at 911 Ogden Ave. in Superior. Paul had made a name for himself in the concrete sawing industry and served a long list of loyal customers in the area.
Due to health challenges, the Konklers were looking to sell their business after a decade of ownership under Paul and Judy. Fortunately, Mavo Systems, a Minnesota-based leader in industrial and commercial environmental specialty contracting services, was looking to acquire more business. They agreed to a deal in April of 2015 and the Superior company’s name was changed to Mavo Concrete Sawing Services. And the business has continued to be successful with steady growth ever since.
Mavo Systems was acquired by ASRC Industrial Services, a premier provider of industrial and environmental services throughout the continental United States.
“Choosing the right buyer was challenging, but Mavo was a good fit,” said Judy Konkler, now president of the Superior Mavo Concrete Sawing location. “They specialize in demolition, so we decided to come on board with them.”
As president of Mavo Concrete Sawing Services, Konkler oversees all operations of the business, from the crew to the customer base, as well as running the office.
“Without our customers and crew, none of us would be here, so it’s important to me that we keep our customers and employees first,” she said. “I always ask the crew how their day was and how their work went, so if something can be made better, we can talk about that.”
Since she has so much experience and expertise in the concrete sawing business, Konkler has seen and handled many of the challenging situations associated with the work, and she still enjoys receiving positive feedback from customers about the crew’s hard work.
“I always find it gratifying to get that phone call saying, ‘Hey, you guys did a great job.’”
– President Judy Konkler, Superior
“I always find it gratifying to get that phone call saying, ‘Hey, you guys did a great job,’” she explained. “We like to hear feedback, no matter what it is. But I love letting our crews know that our customers really appreciate their work.”
Precise, Machine-Heavy Work
The crew at Mavo Concrete Sawing Services consists of about six people during the quieter seasons and grows to about a dozen when construction season is in full swing. The precise and machine-heavy work of concrete sawing requires training that is done almost entirely in-house, and that training is very hands-on and safety focused. The work that the Superior facility takes on is mainly industrial and commercial, but the employees will also install egress windows or dryer vent holes for residential customers.
A majority of the equipment Mavo Concrete Cutting Services uses – such as wall saws, flat saws, wire saws and core drills – can be loaded into a truck, so the company’s service area can stretch into Northwest Wisconsin, North and South Dakota, Iowa and Minnesota. A second Mavo Concrete Sawing location in New Brighton, Minnesota, allows Mavo to reach farther locations more efficiently.
Also well-experienced in the concrete cutting industry is Project Manager Nathan Hathaway, who started with the company in 2005 by working in the field. In addition to managing projects from start to finish, Hathaway estimates project costs, schedules timelines for projects and manages inventory, among other responsibilities.
“It’s a very productive, friendly and positive
place to work.”
– Project Manager Jake Viebahn, Superior
“I start my day making sure everybody is coordinated and gets out the door with what they need,” Hathaway explained. “Depending on the day, I’ll then move onto bids that need to get done and schedule meetings with clients.”
For a typical project that Mavo Concrete Sawing Services takes on, Hathaway will meet with a customer first to discuss all that is needed to complete it. Once common ground on the scope of the project is reached, it will go through a bidding process through which he will quantify whatever cutting or removal is needed and calculate a price for the work that is aligned with industry practice. After the price is agreed upon, a contract is retrieved and work will be scheduled to start and finish under a specified timeline. “We will do whatever we have to do to fill the customer’s needs as best we can,” Hathaway said.
One longer-term project that Mavo Concrete Sawing Services assisted in was the Belknap Street reconstruction project, alongside Chippewa Concrete Services from Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. On the demolition side, the crew cut and disposed of strips of concrete in close proximity to the surrounding businesses. A typical concrete removal process on surfaces such as highways could have harmed the foundations of the surrounding buildings, so this smaller-scale demolition operation was needed to do the job safely.
Weather can at times be a challenging obstacle that increases the timeline of some projects, but for the most part, Hathaway said that Mavo can push through most inclement weather. For example, another memorable project from earlier this year required the help of Mavo Concrete Sawing Services and Superior-based Lakehead Constructors to remove about 250,000 pounds of concrete in a short amount of time at the Minntac Mine site near Mountain Iron, Minnesota. The concrete needed to be moved with large cranes in order to remove buildup and increase the operating efficiency of one of Minntac’s crushers. The bone-chilling temperature of 40 degrees below zero didn’t stop them from getting the job done – with the help of some portable heaters, of course.
“We accomplished the project and it came out good on the other side,” Hathaway said. “Everybody was happy, and we were glad when it was over.”
A newer member of the Mavo Concrete Sawing Services team since 2019 is Project Manager Jake Viebahn. He comes from a general contracting background and was drawn to the job because of the specificity and narrow focus of the work.
“It’s a very productive, friendly and positive place to work,” Viebahn said. “We all have roles here, and Nate and I complement each other well.”
“Our goal is to bring that service to all our outlying offices including Rochester, Minnesota, and Wausau, Wisconsin.”
– Mavo Systems President Jay Robertson, White Bear Lake, Minnesota
What Viebahn finds most gratifying about his work for Mavo Concrete Sawing Services are the customers, providing good work for his crew and making sure the company stays profitable. “We know that the decisions Nate and I make can affect a guy’s ability to put dinner on his table, so it’s work that we don’t take lightly,” Viebahn said.
The majority of work that the company receives is due to good relationships it has built with customers based on past projects. One such customer is Donald Holm Construction, a general contractor based in Duluth. Vice President Duane Holm has worked on many projects over the years with Mavo Concrete Sawing Services, and the two companies recently worked together at Charter NEX Films in Superior, cutting a significant amount of concrete.
“I think they’re a great company to work with,” Holm said. “They pay attention to detail, are always there when we need them, and their pricing is fair.”
In addition to working on projects, Holm will also call with questions about the cost of services so they can be accounted for and included in bids. “They make work easier because of how they approach it as a team,” Holm explained. “I enjoy working with them.”
Highly Specialized Services
While the work Mavo Concrete Sawing Services provides is highly specialized, it offers a variety of services that are in high demand, particularly among plumbers and electricians, as its website explains:
Brokk demolition is designed for high performance demolition with a sleek profile allowing access to difficult, dangerous and confined spaces. Brokk machines are built with an electric motor, eliminating harmful vibrations and fumes. Once in position, the Brokk can outpower excavators, making work faster and safer than traditional methods.
“We will do whatever we have to do to fill
the customer’s needs as best we can.”
– Project Manager Nathan Hathaway, Superior
Wall sawing creates openings in concrete, masonry or pre-cast concrete walls for door, window and mechanical ductwork or for any purpose needed involving straight cuts. Wall sawing is also used for demolition of buildings, bridges and dams where control of the demolition is important. Mavo offers a variety of options that include hydraulic, diesel and electric power units, from hands-on saws to remote saws with the ability to achieve a sawing depth of 28 inches. It also provides egress window openings for residential customers.
Slab sawing can be performed on concrete and asphalt/bituminous surfaces. It involves sawing on the floor or street where a self-propelled saw can be used. This type of sawing is done to install new or repair existing plumbing or electrical pipes under the floor or streets. It is also used on streets and highways for removal of and/or new pavement installation. Flat sawing is needed for a straight edge to provide a neat patch back. Mavo offers a variety of options that include electric where clean air is required, such as in hospitals and retail. Maximum sawing depth is 21 inches.
Core drilling allows the creation of round holes in concrete, masonry or precast concrete for electrical conduits, mechanical plumbing or for samples of the material. Maximum core diameter is 56 inches and maximum core depth is unlimited.
Wire sawing is one of Mavo’s more unique services. The process involves using diamond wire to saw extremely large structures of concrete. Most of this type of sawing is located in the dam, mining and paper mill industries. Concrete grinding is the grinding of uneven concrete floors and sidewalks. It is also used to remove, glue, paint and other residue from floors.
Concrete scanning using ground penetrating radar provides a nondestructive method to locate approximate depth and targeting within concrete, concrete structures and buried utilities prior to coring, cutting, drilling and excavating. This service saves customers valuable time, money and costly mistakes and repairs.
“I think they’re a great company to work with. They pay attention to detail, are always there when we need them, and their pricing is fair.”
– Vice President Duane Holm, Donald Holm Construction
Mavo Systems: Operating in the Upper Midwest
Mavo Systems, which purchased Concrete Sawing Services in Superior in 2015, is an industrial and commercial environmental specialty contractor based in White Bear Lake, Minnesota, that has been in business since 1982. The company operates in all of Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin and the Dakotas, with specialty locations across the Upper Midwest.
Mavo Systems’ specialty services includes asbestos and lead abatement, commercial and industrial mechanical insulation, interior demolition, concrete sawing services, flooring services, mold remediation, HVAC cleaning and decontamination, air duct sealing and scaffolding in addition to water, fire and storm restoration.
“We do a lot of the work that nobody else wants to do,” said Jay Robertson, president of Mavo Systems. “It’s hard, tough work, and you really have to think your way through it.”
Robertson, who purchased Mavo Systems with two partners in 2000, has overseen the company while it has grown from about $1.5 million in revenue in 2000 to about $69 million in 2018. Today, it employs about 500 people. He has also helped expand the business to serve industry segments including commercial, education, industrial, government, health care, manufacturing and retail.
The purchase of the Superior concrete sawing location has proven to be a great acquisition for Mavo. “Buying their concrete sawing company helped us continue to grow the concrete sawing in our other areas where we provide services,” Robertson explained. “Our goal is to bring that service to all our outlying offices including Rochester, Minnesota, and Wausau, Wisconsin.”
In February of 2018, Mavo Systems was acquired by ASRC Industrial Services (AIS), a premier provider of industrial and environmental services throughout the continental United States. AIS is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Arctic Slope Regional Corp. (ASRC) and is organized within three capabilities-based operating groups: construction, maintenance and repair; remediation and response services; and environmental engineering and professional services.
Based in Barrow, Alaska, ASRC is owned by and represents the business interests of approximately 13,000 Iñupiaq shareholders. It is the largest Alaskan-owned company at over 12,000 employees worldwide and serves shareholders in the eight villages within the Barrow region: Point Hope, Point Lay, Wainwright, Atqasuk, Barrow, Nuiqsut, Kaktovik and Anaktuvuk Pass. The corporation owns almost five million acres of land on Alaska’s North Slope, which contain a high potential for oil, gas, coal and other natural resources.
Acquisition helps Mavo Grow
The acquisition of Mavo Systems, which will now be the foundation of AIS’s remediation and response operating group, allows Mavo to deliver all of the services it offers within its current service areas and beyond. “It has really helped us grow and be more profitable,” Robertson said.
And whether those services are being provided on the national, regional or local level, Mavo Systems will continue to do what it does best: solve problems for its customers.
“When you’re a contractor, you think you fix one problem and you’re done for awhile – but really, you’re solving problems for customers all the time,” Robertson explained. “And that’s what really gets me going: mentoring employees, teaching them about contracting and solving problems.” PS
Kevin Ott is a writer/editorial assistant at AdMax Inc.