Rocky Turner, the president of LPR Construction in Loveland, poses for a photo at its job site at Front Range Community College in Fort Collins. Joel Blocker / For BizWest

Big projects satisfy LPR’s Turner

LOVELAND — When the co-founder of LPR Construction Co. needed to earn more money, he figured starting a company would be a good way to do it.

Forty years later, Rocky Turner, now the chairman of the Loveland-based company, is passing it on to his three sons.

“I really enjoy seeing my sons and the second generation, young people, taking over the business and helping it succeed,” said Turner of Loveland, who until recently served as the company’s CEO.

Turner didn’t set about founding a company. He started out teaching industrial arts in Indiana for seven years after earning a bachelor’s degree in the subject in 1972, followed by a master’s degree in 1975, both from Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. He worked his way through college in masonry and while teaching had a side business in construction. His wife, Patty, a special education teacher, informed him she wanted to stay home with their sons.

One of his friends, Larry Boyd, also a co-founder of LPR Construction, said he was planning to move from Indiana to Colorado with their friend, Pete Carner, to start a construction business and invited Turner to join them. He agreed, and the three founded LPR Construction in 1979. Turner stayed with the company, but Boyd left in 1982 to start another business on the western slope, and Carner  left in 2006 to retire.

“It wasn’t a well-thought-out plan,” Turner said. “Interest rates were on the rise, and the economy was not doing well. … Interest rates for a 30-year mortgage were at 17 percent. It was a non-existent home market.”

Boyd had experience in residential construction, plus in steel construction, which presented a more open market, Turner said.

“We were able to sidestep our business to steel erection, which had some viability,” Turner said. “From there, we slowly grew our business.”

LPR Construction became a steel erection company primarily serving the Rocky Mountain area, later expanding across the U.S. and Canada. The company’s first office was in Carner’s basement, and then in about 1983, the founders moved to a small office on South Lincoln Street. The founders moved again to a building they purchased on Des Moines Avenue.

In 1997, they built the current office at 1171 Des Moines Ave. on a property next door to the previous office. That office is 20,000 square feet across three buildings, including the training facility and equipment department in one building and the administrative offices in the other two buildings.

LPR Construction initially focused on commercial and industrial steel erection until 2005, when it added industrial construction services and plant services. Industrial construction services range from turnkey greenfield projects (on empty plots free of structures) to working in operating facilities in industries such as power, petrochemical, food and beverage, and mining and minerals. Services include concrete foundations, steel erection and fabrication, equipment and pipe installations, and material management.

Plant services is another of the company’s offerings for small capital projects, facility management, project management, renovations and retrofits, and power plant air pollution control.

“We started doing industrial construction that might have a heavy emphasis on steel structures and added equipment settings and big tanks on industrial projects,” Turner said. “It’s a natural transition. It gives us diversification. Industrial markets are strong when commercial markets are soft.”

LPR Construction also expanded to geographical markets where there was growth, such as Arizona in the late 1980s when construction in Colorado significantly slowed, Turner said.

“We found over the years if we’re willing to go where the markets are strong, we can maintain the volume we want to make,” Turner said.

LPR Construction’s project list is extensive and in Colorado includes Coors Field, Colorado State University’s Canvas Stadium, Scheels All Sports and the Denver Art Museum, plus data centers in Alabama, retail and office buildings in Tennessee and the Newport News Shipyard in Virginia.

“A lot of people who are in the construction business get a lot of pride from seeing projects that are notable projects in the area,” Turner said, adding that he got that feeling when he was at Coors Field on Father’s Day. “It’s great to walk around and realize you were part of building it.”

Doug Rutledge, chief integration officer of KL&A Inc. Engineers and Builders, which has an office in Loveland, considers Turner’s largest contribution to be the introduction of modern safety practices in the field of steel erection, a historically dangerous occupation, he said, adding that Turner also is an effective leader.

“He places a high value on training and educating people. He has very high ethical standards and runs his business with a lot of integrity,” Rutledge said, adding that his company “has been innovative in the way it does things. It’s been aggressive in pursuing new markets, and it has had good leadership from Rocky and his management team.”

Beginning in 2017, LPR Construction’s parent holding company, Longbow Industries LLC, considered acquiring additional office space to accommodate company growth, including the former Larimer County building at Sixth Street and Cleveland Avenue in downtown Loveland to house Longbow Industries’ administrative staff. In May, Longbow Industries decided against the move because of the cost to renovate and the building’s lack of windows and high level of asbestos, along with changing business plans.

“We thought the cost to renovate was more than it was worth by a long shot. It didn’t make good sense,” Turner said. “We don’t have plans right now to move. If we need the space, it’s possible we’ll move.”

Longbow Industries will remain housed at the Des Moines Avenue site, and Turner and his sons plan to retain operations in Loveland, he said.

“I think Loveland has got a bright future,” Turner said. “We’re certainly not considering leaving Loveland. This is where our home is, and we want to be part of growth for the community.”

Longbow Industries opened a small office in Louisiana last year staffed with a salesperson, estimator and project manager to support operations in the southern U.S. The office location follows construction of the Louis Armstrong Orleans International Airport.

“It was a good market, so we thought it would make sense to have a small sales force down there,” Turner said, adding that any additional offices are temporary at project sites.

LPR Construction grew in other ways over the years, such as in staffing. The company started with five employees, including the three founders, and has grown to as many as 700 employees and now is at 400. That number includes 360 employees at LPR Construction and 40 at Longbow Industries, which was founded two years ago to oversee LPR Construction and sister company, Construction Source Equipment LLC that owns equipment purchases.

“My sons were taking over the business, and they’re trying to buy me out,” Turner said. “We decided contraction was a good plan to get them going.”

Turner serves as a mentor to his sons Lincoln “Linc,” who now is the CEO and president of the company; John, executive director in charge of estimating and quality; and San, chief financial officer. Linc became president in 2013 and added the CEO role in January, when Turner stepped aside to serve on the board.

“It’s really gratifying to see them succeeding. It’s great,” Turner said.

Turner also serves on the board for the National Center for Construction Education and Research and the Steel Erection Negotiated Rulemaking Advisory Committee. Now that he is in semi-retirement, he plans to spend more time in his mountain home and do more snow skiing, hiking and woodworking.

“We don’t have a lot of big growth plans,” Turner said about LPR Construction. “We are trying to get our systems and procedures really organized and documented. It’s not to say we haven’t. We’re going to go through everything and make sure we do things the best way we can.”

LOVELAND — When the co-founder of LPR Construction Co. needed to earn more money, he figured starting a company would be a good way to do it.

Forty years later, Rocky Turner, now the chairman of the Loveland-based company, is passing it on to his three sons.

“I really enjoy seeing my sons and the second generation, young people, taking over the business and helping it succeed,” said Turner of Loveland, who until recently served as the company’s CEO.

Turner didn’t set about founding a company. He started out teaching industrial arts in Indiana for seven years after earning a bachelor’s degree in the subject in 1972, followed by a master’s degree in 1975, both from Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. He worked his way through college in masonry and while teaching had a side business in construction. His wife, Patty, a special education teacher, informed him she wanted to stay home with their sons.

One of his friends, Larry Boyd, also a co-founder of LPR Construction, said he was planning to move from Indiana to Colorado with their friend, Pete Carner, to start a construction business and invited Turner to join them. He agreed, and the three founded LPR Construction in 1979. Turner stayed with the company, but Boyd left in 1982 to start another business on the western slope, and Carner  left in 2006 to retire.

“It wasn’t a well-thought-out plan,” Turner said. “Interest rates were on…