Stacy Wilson could never be considered your typical company vice president. In between Wilson Construction business meetings, company strategy sessions, and ironing out details of ongoing projects, she pilots a King Air 90GTiaircraft for the company. For Stacy, it’s just another Wednesday. Stacy Wilson was raised flying in airplanes piloted by her father and current Wilson Construction president, Don Wilson.
While Wilson Construction is one of the largest utility construction firms in the northwest, it has deep roots in Oregon as a family-centered company that has remained true to this day. Founded in 1952, Matt O. Wilson first brought electricity to farms in Oregon and Washington. Matt’s son, Don Wilson, took the reins in 1996. Even with their continued growth, the company still embodies the same values as they did in the beginning.
Headquartered in Canby, Oregon, Wilson Construction specializes the building, retrofitting and repairing of transmission lines for electric utilities. The company employs more than 600 people, with offices across the western United State in Washington, Oregon, California, New Mexico and Arizona. Their aviation fleet supports this construction work all over the nation, from transporting linemen and supplies to remote locations to using helicopters to pull in electrical lines.
What sets Wilson Construction apart from its competitors is its aviation assets and family owned business model. With seven helicopters, two turbo-prop airplanes and a corporate jet, they have an edge when bidding on jobs as well as performing the work that requires aerial support. Much of the work is only possible through the use of helicopters, such as pulling “sock lines” when a helicopter is used to run electrical line between towers.
One of their latest projects is the Great Northern Transmission Line (GNTL) in Minnesota. Flying to remote locations near the Canadian border in frigid temperatures during the winter mean that runways are typically covered in ice and snow. During the summer months, these conditions become like a marsh, making areas inaccessible by roads. Even with these challenges, the aviation fleet has made this project possible. When complete, Wilson Construction will have been a part of completing a project that gives access to clean, reliable and affordable energy to customers.
Wilson is unique in that they are one of the only companies to manage their own fleet, allowing them to control the training, availability, support and safety. It also gives them the ability to get people and gear anywhere, anytime. This can turn a business trip that would take days into one that takes just a matter of hours.
The other competitive advantage is the family centered business model. “My favorite part of this company is that it’s a big company, but it feels like 30 people work here,” says Gabe Miller, chief pilot for Wilson Construction.
For Don and Stacy Wilson, building a company that centers on family and remains true to its roots is the underlying principle that drives it toward the future.