In 1964, Dennis Washington started Washington Construction Company with a loan and a leased bulldozer. Washington contracted to repair roads for the U.S. Forest Service. Small earth moving jobs prepared the company for winning major highway contracts including building sections of Interstates I-15 and I-90 in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Washington Construction next applied its earth moving capability to mine construction and operation and continued to grow with federal, state, and local highway construction projects while its equipment fleet expanded.
In 1993, the amalgam that had become Washington Contractors Group, Inc., merged with Kasler Corporation of California. From this union evolved Washington Construction Group, Inc., one of the largest and most versatile contractors in the western United States. Large projects such as dam construction were a mainstay. In 1996, Washington Construction Group, Inc. merged with publicly traded Morrison Knudsen Corporation and changed its name to Washington Group International. It was purchased by URS in 2007, essentially closing the Washington Construction era of over 40 years.
Mr. Washington had acquired Modern Machinery Co., a heavy equipment dealership in 1976. Mining experience led to acquiring ARCO’s shuttered Montana mining operations in 1985. Montana Resources was formed to reopen the mine and produce copper and molybdenum concentrates. Profits enabled further expansion and diversification on a theme. Diversification continued in 1987 with the lease of Burlington Northern Railroad’s southern Montana route, now operated as Montana Rail Link. Southern Railway of British Columbia, another shortline, was acquired in 1994. Perceiving the increasing interest in environmental remediation, Envirocon, Inc. was created in 1988.
As the business interests of Mr. Washington flourished, his success generated a desire to give back, so to coordinate philanthropic efforts the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation was founded in 1988. Aviation Partners, Inc. was formed in 1999 to pursue development and marketing of aerodynamic winglets for high-performance business aircraft. Aviation Partners Boeing is a joint venture formed in 2001 to pursue winglet application to Boeing commercial jets.
1992 had brought international scope to the group of companies as Mr. Washington diversified into marine transportation with the purchase of a Canadian tugboat company. The next acquisition occurred in 1994 with purchase of Seaspan International Ltd., one of the largest tug and barge companies in Canada, which included shipyards operations. In 1998, a commercial ferry service to Vancouver Island was acquired, operating today as Seaspan Ferries Corporation. In 1999, Seaspan Container Lines was formed and initially ordered construction of a fleet of 23 container ships. Via a successful IPO in 2006 this became Seaspan Corporation (NYSE:SSW). In 2011, the several privately held Canadian marine companies, including towing, shipyards, and ferries operations, focused marketing under the Seaspan brand. In 2011, Seaspan won a significant federal contract to build non-combat vessels at its shipyards, boosting expansion in shipbuilding.
As the years pass, having depth and resilience, guided by a founding philosophy proven by decades of success, and overseen by astute leadership teams, The Washington Companies look forward to a bright future and will continue their history of growth. They remain solidly positioned to provide the highest quality service to their customers.