Comer Construction Wins Miss Utility Dig Smart Award

Comer Construction Wins Miss Utility Dig Smart Award

Pictured from left to right: Kevin Woolbright, Chair, MD/DC Damage Prevention Committee; Keith Kuzora, General Manager, Comer Construction; Susie Comer, President & Treasurer, Comer Construction; Leona Hill, Vice President, Comer Construction;  Timothy Kaptein, Director of Safety, Comer Construction; Mark Hamrick, Vice Chair, MD/DC Damage Prevention Committee

Comer Construction was honored with the 2021-2022 Miss Utility Dig Smart Award as the safest contractor in Maryland by the Miss Utility of MD/DC Damage Prevention Committee. The event was held October 28, 2022 at the Ocean City Fontainebleau Resort.

This is the 3rd time Comer Construction has received this honor for its commitment to damage prevention excellence and overall dedication to promote damage prevention in this sector of the construction industry.

Representatives from Comer Construction accepted this award during this year’s Greater Chesapeake Damage Prevention Training Conference held this fall in Ocean City, Md. hosted by Miss Utility of Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Delmarva.

What is the Miss Utility Dig Smart Award?

The Miss Utility MD/DC Damage Prevention Committee holds the annual Dig Smart Awards as part of its quest to promote underground utility safety and recognize contractors who steadily work toward damage prevention.

Nominated companies are evaluated based on their damage prevention procedures, employee training programs, enforcement of damage prevention laws, and participation in public/government forums, damage prevention meetings and conferences, and trade organizations.

Get to know Comer Construction:

Grading & Excavation

Maintenance of Traffic

Road Work & Paving

Utilities

HydroVac Truck

Stormwater Management

2022 Employee Appreciation Event

2022 Employee Appreciation Event

Our Annual Employee Appreciation Event was held on October 29th at the Jarrettsville Manor Memorial VFW Post 8672. Team members brought their significant others for a night of food, prizes, and camaraderie. 

Seafood lovers enjoyed steamed crabs and shrimp. Pit beef, turkey, and ham were also available, along with a wide assortment of sides, salads, and desserts. 

Activities included a pinewood derby, cash prize wheel, door prices, scavenger hunt, and more. 

Comer Construction 2022 Employee Appreciation Event

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I95 Business Features Comer Construction

I95 Business Features Comer Construction

This article was written by By Kristi S. Halford and originally published by I95 Business Magazine in August 2022. 

Whether you are driving up the Hickory Bypass to explore the farm stands of Harford and Cecil counties, flying out of BWI in Anne Arundel County, or seeking medical attention at Kaiser Permanente’s Timonium location, it’s hard to drive anywhere in the greater Baltimore region without at least passing a project that involved Comer Construction.

For 40 years, the woman-owned construction company specializing in site preparation and underground utilities, has been making its mark on projects throughout the region.

In 1982, when Susie Comer was just 22 years old, she agreed to join her father J. Marvin Comer, in starting his own construction company, J.M. Comer Construction, which was renamed Comer Construction in 1998 when Marvin retired and sold the business to Susie and her sisters.

“Dad had experience working for other contractors, but things weren’t going the way he thought they should. So, with two purchased trucks, a loader and dozer, we started the business,” recounts Susie Comer, President of Comer Construction.

 

Comer Construction family, (l to r) Susie Comer, Leona Comer, David Coblentz, Keith Kuzora, Dorothy Kuzora, and Donald Rosenthal

Finding its Niche

Originally focused on clearing and grading, the company would eventually expand its service offerings to include site utilities and paving.

According to Comer, “At the beginning, we experienced year over year growth – doubling revenue and gaining new work, but after some time, business leveled off and we determined we needed to find a niche to stand out among the competition.”

Comer Construction found its niche as a WBE Certified, women-owned grading contractor focused on site preparation, site grading, and utility installation.

The company’s first two lease-purchase trucks have grown into a wide-ranging fleet of 17 dozers, 22 excavators and backhoes, 22 loaders, 10 articulated trucks, 24 rollers, and 25 dump, tractor, roll-off, and service trucks.

Over the years, Comer says the company has been proud to work on several high-profile projects including the site development of Ripken Stadium followed by the neighboring hotel and youth fields; the Route 1 Hickory Bypass extension — which they completed four months ahead of schedule; and site development for the Kaiser Permanente building in Timonium.

Comer Construction was the site development contractor for Wegmans in Abingdon, which represents one of its larg-est dirt jobs to date – they moved 600,000 yards of dirt and built a 2,000-foot long x 50-foot high retaining wall. The largest project awarded to Comer Construction remains the work to support the construction of the Midfield Cargo Complex at BWI Airport.

The Only Woman in the Room

As a young co-founder working alongside her father, Comer says she was never the hidden partner of the business. She attended meetings and events as the representative of the business from the beginning, but that often meant she was the only woman in the room.

“Dad pushed me forward from the very beginning. He only had an eighth-grade education, but he had the foresight to elevate my visibility with the company. I was the only woman at any event for years — whether it was a board meeting, dinner meeting or a bull roast. I volunteered and earned respect when I showed that I could get things done,” states Comer.

Comer was the first woman president of the Harford County Contractors Association, and was the first woman board member for numerous associations.

In a male dominated field, Comer says employee candidates have often been surprised to meet with a female boss. She shares, “Many times I would interview a male candidate and he would say he doesn’t know if he could work for a woman, and after some time with us he will say he doesn’t know if he could ever go back to working for a man.”

She notes that today there are lots of women in the field and opportunities in every role for women. At Comer they have female employees working in traffic maintenance, as dump truck drivers, and in operations. There are women in every aspect of the construction industry today including ownership.

Family-Run Business

Comer and her sister Leona aren’t the only long-time employees. Three other employees have been with the company since the beginning, and 25 percent of the staff has been with the business for 25 years or more.

Paul Swank, vice president of Operations, has been with the company for 10 years, but has known and worked with the Comer family in a variety of capacities for 40 years.

He notes, “Our employees enjoy working here because of the family values. Company ownership is here every day, all day – they are not hands off. Susie and Leona know everybody’s spouse and kids. Employees are treated as a member of the family.”

Comer takes pride in being able to offer competitive benefits including 401k and healthcare. “We are a family-oriented business. We treat our employees well. It was important to my father that we treat everyone fairly and with respect.”

According to Swank, “Employees are not just a number at Comer. Susie makes sure to keep healthcare costs down and to help employees when they need it. There is a strong employer-employee relationship. She is fully engaged with every employee. The way this company is run – its focus on family – is the reason I came.”

A Legacy and Future Vision

Comer Construction has earned a reputation for its honesty, integrity, quality service and efficient work.

“Comer is a respected company. When I worked for other contractors, we always treated Comer Construction as a good contractor that happens to be minority-owned,” says Swank. “They have always been a good competitor. The industry recognizes Comer as a family-oriented company, not just a big corporation. Here, the handshake is your word – it was commonplace 20-30 years ago, but today it still exists at Comer.”

Comer has many repeat customers who value the relationship they have built with the company. According to Swank, Comer is known for its quality of work at a fair price. Customers can trust they will get it done on time. If something is wrong, Comer will come back and fix it.

“What you see is what you get at Comer. Susie is as honest as the day is long – her word is everything.”

In recent years, the company has invested in new equipment, added new capabilities like maintenance of traffic, and adopted some new technologies such as the hydro excavation truck, which prevents damage to underground pipes, lines and cables. Not only does the truck reduce the cost of repairs and restoration, it speeds up projects and protects the construction crew.

Safety is the number one priority at Comer. In 2018, Comer Construction was awarded the Maryland Associated General Contractors (AGC) 2018 Safety Excellence Award, in recognition for achieving zero lost time and a combined incident rate 58 percent below the Bureau of Labor Statistics average rate for the industry sector. In 2015 and 2017 they received the Miss Utility Dig Smart Award as the safest contractor in Maryland, and in 2019 they received the Maryland Associated General Contractors (AGC) Safety Excellence Award, as well as the 2019 Specialty Trade Contractor Safety Program of the Year awarded by the National Association of Home Builders + Builders Mutual Insurance Company.

Comer Construction remains focused on the quality of the work it provides and their core areas of expertise. Despite 40 years of growth and success, Comer sees additional opportunity as a woman-owned company and wants to expand their work as a WBE as municipalities increase their participation requirements.

The future is female at Comer as Susie’s daughter, who has been with the company for 18 years, trains to succeed her mother and continue the business as the third-generation owners.

“Dad will be smiling when the third generation is carrying on the legacy of the business. He is still talked about every day and we have kept his core principles in the way we operate. It is an honor to carry on the tradition,” states Comer.

“Dad had experience working for other contractors, but things weren’t going the way he thought they should. So, with two purchased trucks, a loader and dozer, we started the business,” recounts Susie Comer, President of Comer Construction.

Get to know Comer Construction:

Grading & Excavation

Maintenance of Traffic

Road Work & Paving

Utilities

HydroVac Truck

Stormwater Management

Touch-a-Truck in Rising Sun, Maryland

Touch-a-Truck in Rising Sun, Maryland

If you were in Rising Sun, Maryland on the morning of August 13, 2022, chances are you heard a lot of horns and sirens blaring. The Community Fire Company of Rising Sun hosted a Touch-a-Truck event for the community.

Kids were given the chance to climb on all sorts of equipment from ambulances and police cars to school buses and utility trucks.

Comer Construction brought several vehicles and activities to the event. Children were busy grading and excavating in Comer Construction’s sandboxes with construction equipment toys.

Kids loved climbing on the Comer Construction excavator and dump truck. The lowboy served as a great resting spot for parents too.

We raffled off prizes every 30 minutes. Kids got to take home large battery-powered construction toys, while adults got branded charcuterie boards and other prizes. 

Comer Construction at Touch-a-Truck Rising Sun

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Local Leaders Come Together to Celebrate Comer Construction

Local Leaders Come Together to Celebrate Comer Construction

This is a summary of the main presentation during Comer Construction’s 40th Anniversary Celebration. You can view the full ceremony on our Facebook page and read a recap of the entire event.

Angela Rose, the President and CEO of the Harford County Chamber, kicked off the event with opening remarks before inviting Kelly Schulz on stage (pictured). “It is amazing that we got to see all of you. That’s a testament to the amazing business you have built,” said Rose.

Schulz is the former Maryland Secretary of Commerce and a current candidate for Maryland Governor. She awarded Comer Construction with the Governor’s Citation for Outstanding Service from Larry Hogan.

Kelly Schulz on stage presenting Comer Construction with a Governor’s Citation for Outstanding Service from Larry Hogan.

County Executive Barry Glassman presenting Comer Construction with a citation from Harford County.

Senators Bob Cassily and Jason Gallion celebrating Comer Construction’s 40 years in business.

Next on the stage was Harford County Executive, Barry Glassman. He fondly remembers when Marvin J. Comer helped him get his start in politics. Glassman presented Comer Construction with a citation from Harford County in honor of the 40th Anniversary and opening of the new office. Senator Jason Gallion also presented Comer Construction with an official citation from the Senate of Maryland.

 

The themes of American Spirit and job creation continued with delegates Michael Griffith, Teresa E. Reilly, and Mary Ann Lisanti. On behalf of the Maryland General Assembly and the Harford County Delegation, Comer Construction was presented with an official citation to congratulate the business and it’s success as a women-owned construction company.
Susie Comer with Delegates in attendance: Mary Ann Lisanti, Teresa E. Reilly, and Michael Griffith

Several members of the Harford County Council, including President Patrick S. Vincentti, Chad Shrodes from District D, and Tony “G” Giangiordano from district C.

Several members of the Harford County Council were in attendance, including President Patrick S. Vincentti, Chad Shrodes from District D, and Tony “G” Giangiordano from district C. Each spoke briefly about Comer Construction’s impact on Harford County, including the creation jobs and giving back to the community. “It’s all about jobs, jobs, jobs. And that’s what keeps the economy going. Just let the private sector do your thing and great things will happen,” said Shrodes, “I wish you many more years of success. Thank you for how you run your business and how you give back to the community. You and your family, and your company give, give, give. We’re so lucky to have so many generous businesses out there.”

I’m normally not at a loss of words, but it’s so wonderful and overwhelming to have everyone here,” said Susie during her closing remarks, “Each and every one of you, not matter your position, or how long you’ve been here, everyone is equally important. We can’t do it without you. We are a team. We’re all one big family.”

After the ceremony, elected officials helped the Comer family cut the ribbon on the new Comer Construction office space. A full event recap is available here.

“Everyone here is near and dear to our hearts. We love you all so much,” said Susie Comer.

Get to know Comer Construction:

Grading & Excavation

Maintenance of Traffic

Road Work & Paving

Utilities

HydroVac Truck

Stormwater Management

Does it get any more American Free Enterprise than this?

Does it get any more American Free Enterprise than this?

That’s a question posed by Senator Bob Cassily during Comer Construction’s 40th Anniversary Celebration. The event, which took place on June 10, 2022, brought together employees, clients, local leaders, and family to commemorate Comer’s accomplishments over the last 40 years.

Comer Construction has been in the site contracting business since 1982 and couldn’t let the 40th anniversary go without showing appreciation to everyone who helped them reach this milestone. As Comer Construction’s President and CEO Susie Comer said, “Each and every one of you, no matter your position or how long you’ve been here, everyone is equally important. We can’t do it without you. We are a team.”

Kelly Schulz, candidate for governor, and other elected officials presented Comer Construction with official citations commemorating the milestone. Senator Bob Cassily summed it up well: “Look at this picture. I got John Deere, Mack Truck, Caterpillar, and Comer Construction. It doesn’t get any more American Free Enterprise, take it back, have an attitude, than this. Not to mention the banjos and fiddles. Companies like you are making jobs and making Maryland great.”

Comer Construction President Susie Comer with Maryland Senators Bob Cassily and Jason Gallion.

Putting this event together took months of planning. The leadership team wanted to make sure everyone, and every detail, was considered. They included a variety of local and small businesses to cover food, desert, and drinks. Andy Nelson’s famous full pig roast (pictured) was a big hit. Independent Brewing served beer while local wines were available Jim’s Bottle Works.

Sideline, a bluegrass band from North Carolina, provided musical entertainment throughout the night. Susie Comer and a few other guests joined them on stage for a couple songs.

No one left empty handed. Upon arrival, guests were given Comer Construction giveaways and the opportunity to participate in a raffle. Winners of the raffle enjoyed coolers, charcuterie boards, and a variety of other unique prizes.

A true family business, Comer Construction made sure that even the youngest attendees had fun. A moon bounce and sandboxes were set up for the children.

The event also marked the official ribbon cutting of Comer Construction’s new office. The building is a replacement after the previous was destroyed in a 2021 electrical fire. 

Get to know Comer Construction:

Grading & Excavation

Maintenance of Traffic

Road Work & Paving

Utilities

HydroVac Truck

Stormwater Management