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Where Concrete Remains Vital

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Concrete is the lifeblood of the construction industry. From bridges, to highways, to runways, our national infrastructure relies heavily both on the material, and the contractors who excel at working with it. Vital Consulting Group, a New Mexico-based contractor specializing in concrete construction, is one such company. The company has amassed a huge amount of experience and expertise to become a leading firm in the sector, and one that plays a critical role in the southwestern market. Vital has crafted bridges in key areas of transit, performed apron expansions on runways that will service important airports for years to come, and worked alongside the region’s top builders, engineers, and clients. In fact, given the importance of concrete across a wide range of project types, it is no surprise that Vital has touched an array of markets from public, to private, to governmental.

For company President and Managing Member Vincent Martinez, this variety fuels his passion. “We like taking on different jobs,” he says, “especially the ones that are a little bit challenging.” On delving a little deeper, it is clear that “a little bit challenging,” is something of an understatement. Many of Vital’s projects are anything but straight forward. A prime example of this is its recent St. Francis Crossing project, which involved the construction of a pedestrian crossing under St. Francis Dr. in downtown Santa Fe, New Mexico. For context, the project was near the intersection of St. Francis Dr. and Cerrillos Rd., one of the busiest intersections in the state of New Mexico. With local traffic flowing throughout the day and a railroad track running through the middle of it all, Vital had to ensure that any disruptions from the project would be kept to a minimum.

To make matters even more complicated, the city insisted on the pedestrian crossing running underneath the roadway, rather than over it as you would expect to see in a traditional project of this type. To accomplish this, Vital had to build out the pathway, all while keeping the road above in a functional condition. “We never really shut down the traffic at all,” Martinez says. “There were always lanes going. At night, when we worked, we only had to take it down to one lane each direction.” To pull off this feat, Vital put its skill and innovation to good use, building an underground bridge, rather than following the process for a traditional tunnel. By taking a top-down approach in which precast sections of concrete were first set across the road to build out the bridge. Vital then performed the necessary work of excavating the dirt underneath. It was a complicated engineering plan to execute, but Martinez and his team delivered.

While the project rightfully earned Vital an award from the American Concrete Institute, the highest praise came from the city and the local public who were pleased that this stand-out project had been accomplished without creating a traffic bottleneck in the beating heart of Santa Fe. Aesthetically, the project bears an outside-the-box look, finding it well at home in a city known for its artistic flair and cultural importance. More crucially, the project was built safely and Vital’s handiwork will allow the easy passage of cars and pedestrians alike for years to come. The need to balance the visual and structural elements of the job, was a considerable challenge. In order to achieve this, Vital collaborated with the project’s four architects, combining their vision with the diligent planning of the crossing’s engineering team. Now, by the intersection of St. Francis Dr. and Cerrillos Rd., we find a passageway that sits at the crossroads of both function and form. “This was a city of Santa Fe job,” Martinez says, “but even the state highway department and the federal highway department performed a lot of their own inspections. They liked what we were doing.”

Vital Consulting Group is building a strong legacy. Having been in business for 15 years, the company has learned and evolved over time. For Martinez, this growth and education now enables the company to serve the market with the highest quality and standards. “When I started Vital Consulting Group,” he recalls, “I had been working for a lot of contractors for many years. I took my knowledge in construction management, estimating, takeoffs, contracting, scheduling, and other areas and put it together to offer consulting services.”

“Furthering its ability to serve the southwestern market, Vital has been able to acquire three concrete production plants.”

Along with his business partner, Martinez offered consultancy services for a number of years. However, having put his licenses for construction under the Vital name, market changes in 2014 would see Martinez return to the world of contracting. At the time, some of New Mexico’s biggest concrete contractors were drifting out of the market. As Martinez explains, there was a clear need for a new company that could do everything from flatwork to structural builds at a high level. Having a great deal of experience in concrete, Martinez chose to pivot, altering the trajectory of Vital Consulting in the process. “We had five or six employees,” Martinez recalls, “I was running all the office work by myself. Today, we have 87 employees. It’s quite a difference in a relatively short time.”

The growth of the company can be seen across a variety of metrics. Since 2014, Vital has gone from executing $2 million worth of work to over $26 million last year. “It’s been a big jump,” Martinez says. “We’ve gone through some hard changes that weren’t foreseeable, but through them we’ve continued to grow. All the time I hear people saying, ‘we want to be the biggest contractor in the state,’ but I’ve always stressed to our guys that I want to be the best. I want to be proud of what we do. I want to have the owners and vendors trust us and want to come to us.”

Unsurprisingly, this growth and expansion is set to continue. Furthering its ability to serve the southwestern market, Vital has been able to acquire three concrete production plants. As Martinez explains, this will help the company produce and deliver concrete to the job site faster than any of its competitors. “Our two large plants are capable of doing 275 yards of material an hour,” he says, “and one that’s capable of doing about 30 or 40 yards an hour. We use that one on the smaller bridge jobs and projects that are in remote locations.”

When dealing with high performance projects such as runways, having its own source of production ensures that materials are of the highest standard and that the company can oversee all elements of construction to ensure that the product meets all necessary government standards.

Being the best means that Vital has recently been trusted with one of the most structurally demanding jobs in flat and horizontal work: runway and airport apron improvements. On a recent job for Albuquerque International Airport, the company performed this demanding work to the tune of $12 million. As Martinez shares, working as the prime contractor on a key area of an active airport meant that good communication was key to the project’s success. “We have a really good relationship with the Aviation Department here in Albuquerque, working with their engineering and planning department team. I think they see our quality of work and we continue to work on projects with them.” As he explains, this specialty skill is key to the company’s vision for future growth. “We are moving to expand our work in the federal market with more Air Force, Army, and Navy work at their bases,” he says. “Many of these bases date back to World War II. They’re 50, 60-year-old airports, and they are starting to deteriorate. We are excellent at concrete paving, and we want to go out there and show what we can do.”

A proud member of the Associated Builders and Contractors’ New Mexico Chapter, Vital continues to work on some of the southwest’s most critical projects. A company that has learned to adapt in order to best suit the market that it serves, Vincent Martinez and his team continue to be as vital to clients, fellow contractors, and the community as concrete is to construction.

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