"We basically do everything from the ground down,” says Adam Day, general manager at Fox Contractors Corp. “We move earth and pre-grade for buildings and parking lots, roads and bridges.”
Based in Fort Wayne since 1948, Fox Contractors Corp. is an earthmoving and underground utility contractor specializing in heavy highway, public works, commercial and industrial site development.
Adam’s father, Dallas Day, now owns the company, having joined Fox in 1978.
“I grew up as a farm kid between Peru and Roann, Indiana,” says Dallas. “I wanted to be a farmer, but my grandfather made me go to college. I went to Purdue and became a civil engineer. Afterward, I got into construction and I’ve been in it ever since. It’s the closest thing to farming.”
“When my dad’s generation was coming up, a lot of people transitioned from the farm to construction because they were used to running the equipment and working outside and knowing a lot about the earth,” says Adam.
A year after starting at Fox, Dallas and two other partners bought out the original owner and founder, J.M. Fox. By the early 1980s, Dallas was the sole owner of the company.
In addition to the headquarters office in Fort Wayne, Fox has a regional office in Whitestown, Indiana, northwest of Indianapolis.
“We are a 100 percent union contractor for all production operations,” says Matt Michaels, CFO at Fox. “Our workforce fluctuates throughout the year due to the weather. In the summer months, we have close to 350 employees. In the off-season, we have around 150 people working for us.”
“When a new subdivision is being built, we’re the ones who go in and dig the pond, shape the land and put in water, sanitary and storm lines,” says Adam. “We do all different size jobs. We’re getting ready to start our biggest job on I-65 near our office in Whitestown. It’s a highway project and will take 24 months to complete.”
Fox primarily serves customers in Indiana, southern Michigan and western Ohio, but its footprint covers a five-state area in the Midwest. Some of its large projects have included Parkview Regional Medical Center in Fort Wayne, a paint shop for General Motors and numerous landfills.
Dallas says they take safety on the job very seriously, with 100-plus hours of employee training and education every year.
“All of our foremen are OSHA compliant and we make sure they have proper certifications for the specific type of work they may be doing on their jobs. It’s our people that make Fox a standout in this industry. We have very, very good people in every aspect of Fox and we believe that no matter what your job is here, you’re part of the Fox team and contribute to Fox’s success.”
That team, Dallas points out, has many moving parts.
“We have a management team that includes myself, Adam and Matt as well as Don Adamson, who is in charge of estimating and Jim Orr, who is in charge of project management. We meet every week to talk about things that need improvement. We also have a great safety director, Sheryl Wiser, and human resources director Sara Wille. Brett Oetting is in charge of equipment maintenance and takes care of some 250 pieces of equipment that keep us going every day.”
The team is also thinking about the future and how to stay one step ahead in the industry.
“I think environmental is where the future is,” says Dallas. “Landfills are starting to not be approved as new landfills, so they’re going to have to recycle old landfills. Of course, there’s always going to be road work to do and pipe work to do, but environmental work is going to increase significantly.”
While the scope of some of its future projects may end up being different, team members say they have the tools to remain a standout.
“Dallas’ leadership style is what makes us effective,” says Michaels. “He leads by his actions and listening and truly cares about the employees. I’ve learned a tremendous amount just by watching him. And he’s very well-respected in the industry. Other people on the job sites are always telling me I work for a great person. His work ethic trickles down to the employees and inspires them and they want to work hard for him and for the success of the company.”
“I’m very proud of the people I work with and, as a Native American, I’m proud to say we’re a minority-owned business,” says Dallas. “Other companies we work with know they can count on us to go the extra mile to get the job done on time and done right.”
Owner(s): Dallas Day
Address: 5430 W. Ferguson Road Fort Wayne, Indiana 46809
Phone: (260) 747-7461
Years in Business: 72
Number of Employees: 350
Products & Services: Earthmoving and underground utility contractor.