A John Deere Publication
Summer 2024

No Ceiling


Powering Potential in the Mountain State

Clock Icon 5 MIN READ

Amid the rolling hills of West Virginia, a pair of ambitious projects is helping a community embrace a brighter future. Just off the main highway, the tower of a former metals factory stands against a picturesque landscape. The empty facility is a reminder of what was once an important economic anchor for area residents.

Against this backdrop, however, big changes are afoot. And a decades-old company with a new generation of leadership is helping to make it happen.

SAFECO Environmental Services has been tasked with demolishing the old metals factory, safely abating any potential environmental hazards, and preparing the site for future economic development. As he describes the scope of the project, a palpable excitement emanates from SAFECO Vice President Anthony Jordan.

"We're taking a site that is otherwise unwanted or unusable — some would even say an eyesore — and we are turning it into something that is very exciting," says Jordan, peering back as a fleet of excavators carefully removes debris from the site. "It paves the way for new development, for new jobs. It could be a new face for this area."

That site is only part of the equation.

Less than a mile down the road, on the opposite side of the highway, rests a 1,500-acre property that will ultimately house a solar array. Once complete, it will power new industry and economic development.

But before that can happen, there is work to be done. The land must be prepared with special care given to the environment. It's an important process — and Jordan never loses sight of the impact the end product will make.

"It's incredible to think about what this will become, isn't it?" he asks. "It will be a difference maker. It will be something so significant to our power grid and so significant to this area."

The Roots of Progress

Sometimes the most important things take time to grow.

SAFECO was founded in 1985, when Jordan's grandfather launched the business. Initially based in Morgantown, West Virginia, the company slowly carved out a niche as a trusted contractor for remediation projects. Jordan's parents moved to West Virginia 14 years later and joined his grandfather in the family business, bringing him and his younger sister into the fold at an early age.

"I started at the bottom," Jordan says with a relaxed chuckle. "I remember sweeping out concrete pads with a broom in 100-some-degree weather."

It wasn't long before he was hooked.

"Whenever I had the chance to learn something new, I took it," Jordan says. "Throughout high school, throughout college, I was around the business as much as I could be."

As his knowledge grew, so did the family business. SAFECO expanded its areas of expertise and now has offices in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Ohio.

Jordan's parents still play a role in the company, although they are slowly paring back those responsibilities as they near retirement. And his sister is learning from Jordan and becoming increasingly involved in SAFECO's operations.

On a day-to-day basis, though, the ins and outs of the business rest largely on Jordan's shoulders. In his typical day, he juggles his time across multiple sites, overseeing more than 40 workers as they carry out a wide range of complex projects.

The site of the old metals factory is no exception. Excavators, dozers, and compact track loaders work together to carefully remove the concrete and steel remnants of old buildings.

"This project is not simple," Jordan says. "But I have a lot of trust in my team."

Making Tough Look Easy

As the sun slowly peeks above the eastern hills, roughly a half dozen SAFECO employees huddle for their morning meeting.

There's a clear kinship among the crew members, who share lighthearted banter before shifting their attention to the task at hand. As they clear the way for the solar installation, they must navigate steep and rocky terrain. Doing it safely requires the buy-in and attention of every worker, including Supervisor Dustin Garner.

A lifelong West Virginia resident, Garner grew up on a small family farm in the town of Elizabeth.

"Whether it was in the field, or in the garden, or milking cows, there was always something to be done," he recalls, taking a deep breath of the crisp morning air. "I'm glad they [Garner's parents] instilled that work ethic at a young age."

Every ounce of that work ethic is necessary on this job, where crew members must navigate hilly terrain as they prepare the land for its future use.

SAFECO's staff is full of people with stories that parallel Garner's, workers with a passion for the outdoors and a connection to the Mountain State.

Ed Jones was born and raised in nearby Wirt County, where he still resides today.

He is one of the elder statesmen of the SAFECO crew, passing down his knowledge to the rest of the staff.

"I've been doing this work for 27 years," Jones says. "I try to help out the greenhorns here whenever I can. When they're willing to listen, I'm always willing to teach."

Today he is operating a John Deere 1050K Dozer, which he is using to carefully move piles of timber and brush. With decades of experience under his belt, Jones has developed a clear understanding of what he needs out of his machines — and a clear preference for which ones he uses.

"I have been in the cabs of a lot of machines in my life," he says. "John Deere machines are my favorite. I just love the way they run."

The Power of Possibility

With a watchful eye on his crew, Jordan makes his way across the vast metals factory jobsite. Operators methodically move large chunks of steel and concrete. It's work that takes both power and precision.

"We put the John Deere machines through some extreme situations here," explains Jordan. "We are working with heavy materials. It's really hard on machines. We need machines that can handle that and be ready to go every day."

Still, he is quick to point out that a machine is only as good as the people who stand behind it. A close relationship with SAFECO's dealer, Leslie Equipment Co., is essential.

"On the day we bought our first machine, I met the owner of the dealership, and he handed me a business card with his cell phone number on it," Jordan says. "There's a level of accountability I have in my family and in our company, and there's that same level of accountability with our dealer. And they are there for us every time."

It's a feeling that provides peace of mind in the present. Perhaps more importantly, it instills a sense of confidence about what could come next.

SAFECO isn't just aiming for the status quo. As he takes the helm of the family business, Jordan is reaching for something greater, aspiring to unlock growth and prosperity for both his company and the communities it serves.

He glances purposefully up at the vast West Virginia sky and briefly allows himself to consider the possibilities on the horizon.

"There are so many opportunities in front of us right now," Jordan says. "We don't have a ceiling to what we can do —  and that is a great feeling."

SAFECO Environmental Services is serviced by Leslie Equipment Company, Pleasant Valley, West Virginia.


SAFECO Environmental Services include liability transfers, demolition, excavation, environmental remediation, and brownfield development


SAFECO Environmental Services includes the following segments:

  • Liability Transfers
  • Demolition
  • Excavation
  • Environmental Remediation
  • Brownfield Development

Source: safecoservices.com.

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