By Eric Beuning, Correspondent
Each year the Little Falls Area Chamber of Commerce and the Outstanding Service Committee recognize a Morrison County based company for the Large Business of the Year Award.
This year the Large Business of the Year award winner is Tri-City Paving of Little Falls.
“We’re very proud to win this award and be recognized for our accomplishments and our role in the community,” said Tri-City Paving co-owner and President Jack Surma.
Tri-City Paving was originally founded in 1948 by Jack Surma’s great uncle, C.L. Stodolka. At the time the company was called C.L. Stodolka Construction. Over time it grew to include more than 150 employees.
Between 1948 and 1969, other construction companies merged into C.L.
Stodolka Construction, until it was renamed Tri-City Paving in 1969.
“At that time we serviced Bowlus, Little Falls and St. Cloud,” Jack said.
“We are now based out of Little Falls and service all of Central and Northern Minnesota,” Tri-City Paving Controller Adam Surma said.
Tri-City’s primary job is bituminous paving for municipal sources, such as paving roads, highways and parking lots for cities, counties and various townships. This also includes paving airport runways. The company also offers a wide variety of services, including dust control on gravel roads, gravel pit service which includes many types of gravel like Class 5 and granite chip, as well as batch concrete from three different locations.
“We embrace using and adapting new technology,” said Adam. “A lot of our equipment has GPS as well as infrared cameras and laser leveling. We even use smart phones and tablets.”
“Last year we paved the stretch of Highway 10 from Motley to Cushing with a new, innovative type of asphalt called ultra-thin bonded overlay,” said Adam. “It’s a very robust mix of granite and special oils that can be laid down in a very thin layer that is also extremely durable.”
“It was the largest job of its kind outside of the Cities,” said Jack “For us it was an excellent opportunity to get to try out a new technology.”
Tri-City also recognizes that while new technology keeps the business on the industry’s cutting edge, it’s the employees that give the company a firm foundation.
“As a family-owned and operated business we support a strong family based work culture,” said Adam.
“We have several people that have been here for 30 or 40 years,” said Jack. “We have teams that are husband and wife as well as father and son. I think it’s very special to have so many families involved. Not a lot of other companies can say that.”
Tri-City Paving has more than 150 employees that are mostly from Morrison County. In fact, 45 of those 150 employees come from just 18 different families.
“I’m very proud of the fact that our employees are proud to work for us. For a Morrison County person who wants to work hard and earn a solid middle class living, we can provide that kind of economic opportunity,” said Adam. “For the large part many of these jobs don’t require extensive education and four-year degrees.”
“We’ve built a stable platform that has allowed us to stay successful and stay involved in the community,” said Jack. “In fact, during the 2008 recession we weathered the storm without having to lay off a single person.”
Tri-City Paving actively participates in the community. Each year the business offers a $1,000 scholarship to a local high school student going to college for engineering or construction focused education and takes part in Habitat for Humanity.
In 2014, Tri-City donated a portion of the cost to pave the parking lot for the new Boys and Girls Club in Little Falls.
“Our goals going forward are to remain a local company that continues to grow the business while making deeper relationships with the Minnesota Infrastructure Industry and the local community,” Adam said.
“We’ve been in business for almost 70 years now, and we intend to be going strong for 70 more,” Jack said.
Tri-City Paving will be honored at the Chamber’s annual meeting Thursday, at the Falls Ballroom, Little Falls.