The early years
AZCO started in 1949 with four individuals who identified a need for a quality mechanical contractor to serve the industrial marketplace. Together, they formed AZCO INC., first known as the “A to Z Company,” signifying a wide variety of service offerings. Initially serving the pulp and paper industry from its base in Appleton, AZCO extended its markets into a broad range of manufacturing.
AZCO established its first metal fabrication facility in 1953. During the late 1970s and early 1980s, increased demand from the food and beverage and power industries led to the construction of a separate stainless-steel pipe fabrication shop and a major expansion of its carbon steel pipe fabrication. These facilities further enhanced the company’s service capabilities.
Looking to expand reach beyond east central and northern Wisconsin, AZCO purchased Downey Co., a mechanical contracting company in Milwaukee, in 1970. Downey’s engagement in commercial work allowed AZCO to broaden its services and geographical reach. AZCO held Downey through 1982, eventually selling the company to a management group based in Milwaukee.
A full-service company
The year 1985 marked a major milestone in the development of the full-service concept for the company. AZCO formed a holding company — The AZCO Group Ltd. — to purchase Hennes Erecting Inc. in Appleton. Hennes Erecting had made its niche in the construction market by providing heavy machinery moving and installation services, as well as steel erecting services. The merger of these two well-respected entities made for a potent force in the construction marketplace.
The combined firm, AZCO Hennes Inc., could now offer a full range of services to an industrial marketplace, including utilities, foundries, steel mills, food processing plants, breweries and chemical and plastic firms. With metal and pipe fabrication capabilities to complement its construction experience, AZCO could now compete in the general construction marketplace. AZCO, contrasted with other general contractors based in Wisconsin, could self-perform the majority of its scope of work without having to subcontract to a multitude of specialty contractors.
Briefly, The AZCO Group Ltd. ventured into the electrical construction market with the formation of AZCO Electric, as a wholly-owned subsidiary. While modestly successful at first, the level of expertise required ran too far afield from AZCO’s core competencies. In 1991, The AZCO Group Ltd. dissolved this subsidiary. Shortly after, AZCO dropped the Hennes name from its corporate identity, reverting to the simplicity of AZCO INC.
In 1998, one of the original founders who had remained with the company for almost 50 years decided to retire as chairman and sell his holdings, leading the way to creation of an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). In 2005, the company became 100 percent employee-owned. With the ESOP, AZCO provides its workforce with an ownership interest in the company based on the length of time they have worked for the company, providing additional shares every year based on valuation.
Awards and milestones
In 2006 and 2007, AZCO was named one of the Top 20 Power Contractors in the U.S. by Engineering News-Record.
An impeccable safety record is one of the most important goals a company can aspire to achieve. AZCO’s behavioral-based Zero Injury Program begins at the executive management level. Among aspects contributing to this outstanding achievement: a heavy emphasis on employee orientation, site-specific pre-job safety analysis, and daily pre-task planning. In 2009, AZCO worked 5 million hours without a lost-time incident.
In 2014, AZCO added 12,000 square feet to its fabrication shop. The expansion provided room for a new heat-treat furnace, additional welding stations and improved production capacity to meet an increased demand in fabrication for national and local clients.
AZCO has a strong commitment to being a responsible corporate citizen. With in-kind donations, service, time and/or money, AZCO makes a difference in the lives of those throughout the Fox Valley including United Way Fox Cities, the American Cancer Society Sole Burner, Appleton Downtown Inc. and Rawhide Boys Ranch.
Celebrating 70 years in business, AZCO CEO John Trottier reflects on recent company growth: “Strong markets and dedicated leadership for AZCO have helped propel us to strong growth in recent years, both in terms of qualified personnel and revenue.”
In 2016, AZCO became a wholly owned subsidiary of Burns & McDonnell. “We have gone to the next level in our partnership with Burns & McDonnell,” Trottier said. “We are now teamed with one of the top engineering firms in the world to bring even more value to our clients, more opportunities to our employees and more stability in the marketplace.”
Today, AZCO has more than 265 employees locally and more than 900 union craftsmen nationally, providing heavy industrial construction and fabrication services across the country and serving the power generation, refinery and metal casting industries.
1025 E. South River St.
Appleton, Wi, 54915