Deemed essential during the COVID-19 pandemic, Stronghold kept doors open and prioritized its responsibility to keep employees safe and support them in making a living. The company faced its share of challenges but was persistent in retaining employees and maintaining a high standard of quality in its work, finding ways of succeeding during the pandemic.
Safety Measures Taken
Stronghold was strict in its compliance to OSHA safety standards. The Association of General Contractors provided webinars and recommended health and safety practices to help members of the construction industry navigate the pandemic, and Stronghold was intent on doing the most for its team. In the corporate office, no more than 10 people were allowed on each floor. Some people were asked to adapt to working remotely and were equipped with webcams, microphones, and other devices.
In the field, operating vehicles were wiped down after each use, hand washing stations were provided throughout the jobsite, social distancing was strictly enforced, and masks were mandatory.
No matter where employees showed up to work, they had to pass temperature checks, were asked to hold their breath for 30 seconds, responded to a questionnaire asking about their health and chances of potential contact with COVID-positive friends and family. If their answers conflicted with the COVID protocols, they were asked to go home for quarantine.
At the time, there were shortages of hand sanitizer and facial masks. The team ordered water and stocked up on supplies due to uncertainty over what would happen with the supply chain. After drinking water bottles from the emergency pallets, the bottles were relabeled and filled with hand sanitizer that had come in bulk. Those who couldn’t find traditional PPE gear wore bandanas or neck gaiters to keep themselves and their teammates safe. SEI branded masks were provided to the team when they came available.
Stronghold relied on its well-established culture of integrity among team members. The team understood the importance of being truthful and compliant to keep their coworkers safe and the company running.
Succeeding During The Pandemic
Projects Completed and Procured
The Ironwood State Prison project, Stronghold’s largest, most significant job in 2020, shut down a few weeks after the pandemic hit. Soon afterwards, other projects on the company’s radar faced delays of all kinds. The team found a way to use their surplus of employees to their advantage.
After waiting years for the green light to start the West Riverside Landfill project, Stronghold was able to start and finish the solar farm project in 2020. Teams that had been unable to work on other, delayed projects were moved to the West Riverside Landfill to fast track construction. Towards the end of the year, work on the Ironwood State Prison resumed and Stronghold has been working in full force to complete the project quickly.
While on-site construction was recovering from the initial impact of the pandemic, Stronghold continued to bid for projects. Their bid for the Sierra College Infrastructure Upgrade project was selected, and they were chosen for the Plant 42 Air Traffic Control Tower build for the Air Force in Palmdale. The team has successfully grown their civil rail division, including being selected for Caltrans’ first design-build project: a maintenance station design build project for Caltrans, Fontana.
Thanks to the new challenges posed by a partially remote workforce, Stronghold had to ramp up its IT. After outsourcing for the past three years, the team realized there were opportunities to save money and better serve employees that could be solved by hiring an in-house IT manager. In addition to bringing on excellent talent in IT, the company was able to bring on a number of high-quality new hires to enhance the team. They started 2020 with around 160 employees and ended the year around 205.
Looking to The Future
What could have been a devastating year for the company turned into a year of lessons learned and finding new ways of succeeding during the pandemic. Thanks to Stronghold’s continually bidding for new jobs during 2020, there will be no shortage of work in Stronghold’s future. Thinking ahead to what’s coming down the pipeline, even during last year’s extenuating circumstances, Stronghold sees a bright future ahead.
After 30 years in the construction business, Stronghold has its operations down to a science. They have earned a reputation for the way they value their team and their work, and they are looking forward to the next 30 years with confidence.