Founder of Cedar Valley Corp., Robins H. Jackson1986 - Holts Summit, Missouri1990-92 Hwy 218 Construction through Waterloo, Iowa

A Solid Foundation

Cedar Valley Corp., LLC, one of the Midwest's premier highway construction companies, is a second generation, family-owned and operated corporation founded in 1971. The company specializes in heavy highway construction, public infrastructure, business and industrial parks, airport runways/taxiways, subdivisions, and municipal paving.

Seduction to an Industry

To get a real feel for the history of this company, one must go back to 1948 when its founder, Robins H. Jackson, graduated from Iowa State College with a degree in civil engineering. He joined Jackson Construction Company ("JCC"), a small building firm specializing in buildings, warehouses and schools, founded two years earlier in 1946 in Emmetsburg, Iowa, by his brother Bill.

In 1951 Robins Jackson approached Irving Jensen, Sr., whose highway paving firm was seriously behind schedule on a paving job in Palo Alto County, Iowa. Seizing the opportunity, Jackson offered to help.

"Until then the nearest we'd been to the highway business was driving by on our way to work," reported Jackson. Jensen lent equipment, labor and a foreman to the Jackson brothers, who attacked the job with everything they had. "We paved 900 feet the first day," Robins says. "Not bad for a fellow who'd started out doing painting and light carpentry on homes and farms. After that I knew I wanted to be in the highway business." From that point on Jackson Construction Company turned its focus to heavy highway construction.

Challenges and Opportunities

Through the years, JCC weathered good times and bad. The company, then based in Nevada, Iowa, completed numerous projects in the Waterloo-Cedar Falls, Iowa area from the late 1950's through 1971. After completing their largest project, a six-lane reconstruction of Highway #218 (University Avenue) through Waterloo, it was no surprise when the decision was made to purchase the assets of Diesch Constructors, a small concrete paving firm which had operated in Waterloo for 15 years. Jackson chose to operate the entity as a separate firm and, thus, on November 1, 1971, Cedar Valley Corp., LLC ("CVC") was born.

This acquired company had potential for growth in what was already known to be a rewarding market. Immediate major changes in management and the addition of updated equipment set the stage for expansion. In its early years CVC operated from Commercial Street in Waterloo, Iowa. CVC's paving projects were located in the major urban areas in Eastern Iowa, where they utilized local ready mixed concrete. On the few paving projects that required a portable batch plant, they borrowed one from Jackson Construction Company.

In 1975, Robins' son, Steve, joined Cedar Valley Corp., LLC upon graduation from Iowa State University with a degree in Construction Engineering. After a short stint in the office, Steve took over the position of paving superintendent in 1977 and held this position until 1982, when he took over project management for the company.

1982 became a watershed year for the United Jackson Companies. First, after congress failed to pass a new highway bill, potential work in the Midwest became almost non-existent. Therefore, when JCC was offered a chance to work in Louisiana, they jumped at the opportunity. Unfortunately, the move to the Sun Belt didn't work out and JCC was shut down in 1984. With JCC gone, competition forced Cedar Valley Corp., LLC to purchase its first central mix concrete plant and to start bidding projects throughout the entire state of Iowa. 1982 also saw CVC join forces with the Manatts to purchase Basic Materials (now BMC Aggregates), an aggregate producer with now more than a dozen locations in Northeast Iowa.  The year prior, Aspro Inc., a Waterloo-based asphalt paving firm, was also purchased jointly with the Manatt family.

In 1985 JCC's Nevada, Iowa property and CVC's Commercial Street, Waterloo, property were sold and the entire United Jackson Companies operation was moved to its current location at 2637 Wagner Road in Waterloo, Iowa. Cedar Valley Corp., LLC still houses its home office and shop operation at this location.

Leadership and Success

Cedar Valley Corp., LLC operations have grown into a market area now encompassing various Midwestern states. The company's paving capacity has also grown to where it routinely operates simultaneously two central mix concrete plants and employs over 170 employees during the construction season.

Throughout both the public and private sector, CVC has earned a reputation for competitive pricing, quality workmanship and superior projects and has received numerous state and national awards recognizing its many aspects of successful project completion. As of 2023, the American Concrete Pavement Association has awarded CVC forty-five of its highly coveted Excellence in Concrete Pavement awards. See Awards & Recognition.

In 1993 Cedar Valley Corp., LLC was awarded one of the very first prestigious national Marvin M. Black Partnering Awards. The winning project, the Iowa Department of Transportation project to rebuild Interstate #35 under the West Mixmaster west of Des Moines, Iowa, was the company's first experience with partnering and a very successful one.

While the base of its operation is the Midwest, Cedar Valley Corp., LLC's name and reputation are recognized at the national level as well. The bedrock for this recognition was Robins and Steve Jackson's strong belief in the strength of industry affiliations and giving back to the industry from which the company has drawn its livelihood. In 1990, Steve was elected company president, as Robins started his ascension to the 1992 presidency of the Associated General Contractors of America.  Read about the company's 20th anniversary in the Waterloo Courier article that appeared on January 27, 1991.

Throughout the years, both Robins and Steve Jackson have dedicated generous efforts on behalf of many professional and industrial organizations, serving on numerous state and national committees, and holding state and national offices. Robins reached the zenith of his association career in 1994 when he served as the president of the Confederation of International Contractors Association, a worldwide organization of construction associations. Robins passed away in 2009 at the age of 85.

Steve Jackson served as the 1985 president of the Iowa Concrete Paving Association currently holds a position on the American Concrete Paving Association's Board of Directors (ACPA). His involvement with the Associated General Contractors of Iowa includes a stint as president in 1990, being named Member of the Year in 2003, and being elected to the Hall of Fame in 2010. On a national level with the Associated General Contractors of America, Steve has served as a national committee chairman and holds the title of Lifetime Director, an honor awarded after 10 years of service on the board of directors.

Company employees are encouraged to carry on CVC's tradition of activism and currently hold leadership roles in various trade organizations. In addition to Steve Jackson, four other employees have served as president of the Iowa Concrete Paving Association, including current Senior Vice President, Willie Calderwood, and Vice President of Operations, Craig Hughes. Calderwood also served as president of AGCI in 2007 and currently serves on the national board of directors for Associated General Contractors of America. This involvement positions CVC to contribute and share in the latest cutting edge technologies and construction methods available in the industry.

Under the leadership of President and CEO, Steve Jackson, Cedar Valley Corp., LLC continues its growth in size, volume and respect. It maintains a strong, well-informed and trained field leadership, modern equipment, up-to-date offices and shops, a well-trained workforce and all the many intangible assets that make up a successful company. Today, the management team of Cedar Valley Corp., LLC remains focused on growing and strengthening the company. In continually seeking new and more efficient processes, it strives to improve the design, quality and construction of infrastructure.