As the upswing in the economy boosts the construction industry one company feeling the increase in demand for its services is asphalt and concrete product supplier Hawaiian Rock Products. The firm is currently undertaking several multimillion-dollar contracts and is actively bidding for several others of similar scale.

Recent contracts on the Hawaiian Rock slate include the extension of Guam’s A.B. Won Pat International Airport valued at $8.8 million and concurrent construction of a parallel taxiway valued at $8.5 million. In addition the firm also has a $4.2 million contract with the U.S. military for airfield runway and taxiway repairs at Andersen Air Force Base as well as a host of other military projects whose aggregate value reaches $5 million.

Hawaiian Rock estimates a market share as high as 95% for asphalt-related products and 70% of concrete products locally. "In Guam we provide ready-mixed concrete coral aggregates and sand concrete products like hollow blocks concrete paver tiles and retaining wall systems precast concrete manholes and reinforced concrete pipes. We also sell asphalt [and] concrete " Art D. Chan marketing manager at Hawaiian Rock told the Journal.

Upgrades at the A. B. Won Pat International Airport will increase the length of Runway 6R/24L by 2 000 feet and include a 1 300-foot transition into the existing runway. Hawaiian Rock estimated the project to last 10 months. Further developments at Guam’s airport will create a new taxiway "K." The new taxiway will be 8 600 feet long by 150 feet wide and construction is expected to last 14 months. Hawaiian Rock is the primary contractor for both projects with Sumitomo Mitsui Construction Co. serving as subcontractor.

Execution of these contracts is solid proof that construction activity on Guam is building up. Hawaiian Rock has begun gearing up for the expected increase in demand targeting a 15% growth in sales over the next year. Most of this growth is anticipated in asphalt-related sales. Positioning for the growth-target has led Hawaiian Rock to invest heavily in plant facilities and equipment.

"For this construction boom we have started capitalizing. We have a new concrete batch plant at Andersen we have a new asphalt plant being constructed in our yard in Mangilao. We are poised to provide the quality products and services when needed and where needed on the island " Chan said. The investments will double the firm’s production output to 600 tons of asphalt per hour according to Hawaiian Rock is currently looking for another quarry site. The 300-acre Mangilao quarry produces about a million cubic yards of material each year. Chan said at that rate the Mangilao quarry will expend all of its materials within 11 years but should demand decrease its life span could increase to about 20 years. Because Guam’s eastern coast aggregate Hawaiian Rock continues to look for other possible locations despite already owning a quarry site in Yigo. As opposed to other firms that ship in aggregate materials from off-island Hawaiian Rock "starts from scratch — we blast break and crush the rock to produce all aggregate " Chan said. The firm’s product "meets or exceeds all local military and federal government specifications " he said.

The expected revenue growth will lead the firm to increase its labor force from 250 employees to around 300. Chan said he did not foresee difficulty in finding qualified labor to fill the new positions. "The people who know the business are already with us " he said citing Hawaiian Rock’s existing technical-labor resources. "In our line of business we do not foresee any difficulties in looking for local hires. We went through the boom years of the 1990s and did not encounter any labor difficulty. We do not need a whole range of labor categories."

The summary effect of the recent business cycle remains to be seen. The duration and vigor of the construction boom is still a debatable topic. Chan stated that he would not classify the boom as lucrative. "We will have lots of work coming but because a lot of companies have endured … for this moment they may find themselves competing for little gains." MBJ