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Big R marks 45 years of Building America’s Bridges

July 2, 2015
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Succeeding in business isn’t always easy. Doing it for over 45 years running gives us cause to reflect on our staying power, which we owe to a solid “can do” attitude and a commitment to innovation, quality and value.

“Past accomplishments and an amazing potential had attracted me to Big R in 2010,” comments Cameron Klein, President and CEO, “The last few years have really proven that out and I’d like to thank everyone on the Big R team, our partners and our customers for the continued success we have enjoyed.”

Mike Wilson, CEO of The AIL Group of Companies, adds, “I’ve had the pleasure of being involved with Big R for over 20 years and it has always been a very exciting ride. They make a great contribution to our Group and we congratulate them on this milestone.”

From a regional ranch supply company to one of America’s leading innovators in prefabricated bridges and more, follow our history in this brief historical outline.

1970s: From corrugated pipe, to modular bridges…
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  • The Big R Ranch Wholesale Supply Company, in Greeley, CO, established Big R Highway Products to market corrugated metal pipe.
  • The young company thrived on a culture of proactive selling and a strategic relationship with Kaiser Aluminum in Oakland, CA, which eventually led to us manufacturing pipe in Greeley.
  • We operated a fleet of six tractor-trailers and flew to meetings in our own Cessna 210.
  • We innovated a better way to make cattle guards, which enabled us to secure large contracts, some of which still exist today.
  • We moved into making steel bridge decking, rolled beam girders and bridges, before making our first modular bridge design for the forestry sector. 

1980s: From the oil boom, to forestry, then standing on our own… 
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  • The 1970s Middle East oil crisis gave rise to accelerated growth of the US oil industry, causing modular bridge production to flourish in the 80s.
  • Once the oil sector peaked, forestry became our growth area.
  • As the 1980s came to a close, the Big R management team negotiated to buy the company from Ranch Wholesale.

1990s: From forestry, to highways, to trusses and structural plate…
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  • Forestry bridges continued to be our mainstay, with installations as far away as Alaska.
  • When the forestry sector declined, highway infrastructure picked up.
  • We got into more cast-in place decking and kept refining and streamlining our modular designs to be more efficient.
  • We started making more truss bridge designs and entered a strategic distributor relationship for AIL’s Super•Cor Structural Steel Plate.


Since 2000: On to bigger and better things in Building America’s Bridges…

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  • 2001: Big R Manufacturing was purchased by AIL.
  • 2008: We changed our name to Big R Bridge, launched a patented Tunable Bridge design and grew our presence in mining infrastructure.
  • 2010: We expanded with a new structural plate facility in Fort Worth, TX.
  • 2010: Cameron Klein joined company as President and CEO, Big R built largest bridge in its history at the Volkswagen Plant in Chattanooga, TN.
  • 2012: We opened a bridge manufacturing plant in Abingdon, VA to better serve eastern US and export markets.
  • 2013: Our AIL Group sister company, Vist-A-Wall Systems (design and manufacturing of Mechanically Stabilized Earth Walls), became a division of Big R Bridge.
  • 2014: We manufactured our first bridge for Africa.
  • 2015: Expansion of Big R’s Fort Worth, TX plant to manufacture soil reinforcement steel.

2015 and beyond? Stay tuned!