Southeast Road Builders is laying the groundwork for dredging by Pacific Pile & Marine. (Emily Files)

Southeast Road Builders is laying the groundwork for dredging. (Emily Files)

Longstanding local construction company Southeast Road Builders will soon be under new ownership.

Southeast Road Builders has paved the way for Southeast Alaskans for more than four decades. Now, Roger Schnabel has decided to sell his civil contracting company, which has built roads and bridges from Prince of Wales Island to Haines Highway.

Why sell the company now? Southeast Road Builders’ Chief Financial Officer Brenda Josephson said French multinational construction company the Colas Group approached Schnabel late last year.

“He just turned 63 years old. He said he didn’t have an exit plan,” she says. “When they approached him, he thought it was a good opportunity.”

The Colas Group owns clusters of construction businesses across the world. Southeast Road Builders will become part of Colaska, their Alaskan subsidiary. It includes seven other Alaskan construction companies that build roads, make asphalt, and sell materials across the state.

 “One of their subsidiaries is Secon, and Secon is a competitor of Southeast Road Builders,” Josephson says.

Secon won the bid for the Haines Highway project. Since Southeast Road Builders is a subcontractor on the road, Josephson says the two companies had already planned to work closely together this summer.

The Haines Highway project is expected to take six to eight years. The 1943 highway is Haines’ only land link to the road system. According to the Department of Transportation, the state is expected to spend about $100 million dollars to straighten and widen the road, making it appropriate for a 55 mph speed limit.

Colaska will be able to use Southeast Road Builders’ assets to work on the project. The deal includes the company, equipment, a gravel pit, and other property — including Roger Schnabel’s house at 4 ½ Mile.

Despite new owners, Josephson says Southeast Road Builders will remain mostly the same. They expect their company to keep its name, and their employees to stay on. Josephson says she sees the sale as very positive development.

Roger was getting to the point of retiring,” she says. “And this way the company is going to be able to continue.”  

Josephson declined to say how much the Colas Group offered for the company. In the last ten years, public data shows Southeast Road Builders have worked on more than 61 government contracts worth over $80 million dollars.