Construction is the backbone of our society. It is the process of building and maintaining the physical infrastructure that we rely on every day. Skilled and talented construction workers are the ones who make this possible. From the roads and bridges that connect us to each other, to the dams and levees that protect us from floods and natural disasters, construction workers build everything that keep our communities safe and thriving. For over seven decades, R.J. Zavoral & Sons Inc. has been at the forefront of this vital process. As a family-owned contractor, this esteemed company has provided construction services that not only shaped landscapes and highways, but preserved communities from natural disasters across East Grand Forks, Minnesota and North Dakota’s Red River Valley Basin. With expertise spanning earth-moving, flood mitigation, and road construction, its touch is evident across a remarkable 200-mile stretch.
Dave Zavoral, Vice President of R.J. Zavoral & Sons, reminisces about the company’s origin, tracing back to his grandfather, the late R.J. “Bob” Zavoral. Dave explained how Bob’s pathway through construction came about through his service in World War II and a Dozer operator for the Seabee’s (United State Naval Construction Battalion). During his service, he served by constructing bases and runways on different missions. After the war, he returned to construction, and during the Red River Valley flood in 1951, a succession of successful projects in the area led to R.J. Zavoral & Sons settling in East Grand Forks, MN where the company’s main operations are located.
Today, the company remains a family-owned business, managed by two generations of the Zavoral family. They work alongside numerous colleagues and friends who have all become an integral part of the company family. Although R.J.’s passing in 1990 was a profound loss, his legacy continues. The values he instilled—high quality work, mutual care, honesty, respect and a steadfast adherence to safety standards—remain the foundation of the company’s success.
Having experienced the unpredictable nature of the construction industry for many decades, the company’s current growth trajectory is impressive. From humble beginnings, R.J. Zavoral & Sons Inc. has grown into a powerful force in the Red River Valley region’s earth-moving domain. In recent years, the company has seamlessly woven technology into its fleet, harnessing GPS tracking to garner real-time operational data that facilitates insightful management and operation of its projects. This technological edge has proven to be indispensable, enabling precise control and product delivery in its mass excavation, road building, and flood control projects. These developments have reinforcing R.J. Zavoral & Sons Inc. as a paragon of construction excellence, rooted in history, and building towards the future.
What distinguishes the company from its competitors is its deeply ingrained family values. Being family-owned means there’s a strong sense of pride and responsibility in how the company operates and serves its clients. “Every project reflects our family’s name,” states Dave, underscoring the company’s commitment to upholding the company’s esteemed reputation. Dave is especially keen on emphasizing its dedication to ensuring that every client is treated with the utmost respect and ensuring that “every project is done right” — a sentiment for which the company is well-known.
For a company rooted in the community, it is no surprise that R.J. Zavoral & Sons Inc. extends its family values beyond business to societal roles. These values are reflected in its disaster prevention and broader commitments to the Red River Valley region. A particularly noteworthy example is its collaboration with the US Army Corps of Engineers in the flood-prone areas of Grand Forks and East Grand Forks. For R.J. Zavoral & Sons Inc., this wasn’t just another project; it was a mission to save countless lives. The company views its role not merely as contractors but as active community members, safeguarding communities against the devastating whims of nature. Additionally, the company’s quest for excellence doesn’t stop at project completion. Every year, it presents one of its projects for accolades, garnering numerous awards and commendations over the years.
“At our company, we strive to create a supportive and family-like atmosphere for our employees.”
At the core of R.J. Zavoral & Sons Inc. are its employees. As Dave explains, the company recognizes the integral role his coworkers play, not only in its ongoing success, but in the success of the construction industry as a whole. The company makes great efforts to ensure its values are put into practice by providing a safe, healthy, and flexible environment that promotes a positive work-life balance. “Joining us means you’re family. We celebrate together, support each other, and are passionate about our work,” he says. “At our company, we strive to create a supportive and family-like atmosphere for our employees. We believe that when our employees feel valued and supported, they are able to do their best work and go the extra mile.” This people-centric approach ensures that while the business’s objectives are met, employees are also supported, positioning the company as a considerate and forward-thinking employer.
Yet, challenges persist. The modern era poses recruitment difficulties, with dwindling interest in construction careers. To combat this issue, the team at R.J. Zavoral & Sons Inc. have prioritized a positive work environment. With the goal of being an attractive place of employment, existing employees proudly share their positive experiences, advocating for the company’s reputation. The company has also embarked on a proactive initiative by reaching out to local high schools. Its objective was to introduce younger individuals to the field, acquainting them with the construction industry and potential opportunities. The belief driving this initiative was simple: young individuals cannot develop a passion for a field unless they are familiar with its ins and outs.
Another challenge, and one that is present across the industry, is ensuring the safety of its employees. Unsurprisingly, the company’s family ethos, ensures that all employees are given the same level of safety support. For Dave, safety is non-negotiable. “Safety is our top priority. We have a comprehensive safety program in place, and we train our employees on the latest safety procedures. We also invest in the best safety equipment and technology.”
The company partners with STEP, an acronym for Safety Training and Evaluation Process, a pivotal program facilitated by Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC). ABC evaluates the company’s business practices and helps enhance its safety program. In addition, ABC provides the essential tools and guidance necessary to ensure proper safety training for all employees. Moreover, this program serves as a metric, allowing the company to gauge whether it is keeping on top of current safety trends and effectively ensuring the safest possible work environment.
R.J. Zavoral & Sons Inc. is a family-owned construction company with a rich history, a deep commitment to community, and a bright future. Built on family values such as hard work, honesty, and respect, the company is dedicated to providing its clients with the highest quality services. This is a company that is growing and evolving, with a considerable history of success already behind it. By remaining true to its core values, R.J. Zavoral & Sons is building a safer tomorrow, one project at a time.