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Diversity is key for construction company leading North Split project

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Ethnic and cultural diversity is key to one Indiana construction company’s operation.

Superior Construction won the bid to the $329 million reconstruction of the I-65 and I-70 North Split.

The company was founded by an Italian immigrant in the early 1900s. Today, racial ethnic groups make up about 40% of the staff.

Fifty years ago, construction at the I-65 and I-70 interchange was state of the art. It’s now outdated, and Superior Construction is taking moves to modernize it.

Tim Johnson is the project executive. The estimated two-year project will be broken down in three legs, with the idea of improving traffic conditions and walkability for surrounding communities. But this company is also building on something else: cultural diversity in its own ranks.

“It’s exciting. An exciting part of the project for us. We strive as an organization but also personally for ethnic and culture diversity. We’re on a fourth generation of a privately held enterprise,” said Johnson.

Company representatives said about 40% of its staff represent racial ethnic groups and eight countries: the United States, Colombia, Egypt, India, Korea, Zimbabwe and Nepal.

“The great-grandfather and subsequent generations and experience. They have an inherent commitment to that diversity,” Johnson said.

Aishwarya Kodnikar came back to the U.S. from India.

“I was surrounded by a few people that represented different countries but after coming here it was really important for me to find a same company that would fit my cultural background as well,” Kodnikar said.

She’s the project engineer, so she makes sure there’s enough building material and staff on site. She doesn’t just represent an racial ethnic group, but also a woman in a male-dominated field.

“I think the industry is changing now. They are accommodating different cultures and genders,” she said.

Further steps are being taken to further diversify the construction industry.

In a statement, the Indiana Department of Transportation said:

Our DBE (Disadvantage Business Enterprise) program sets targets for all contracts to include participation goals for businesses owned by one or more individuals who are socially or economically disadvantaged. When a prime contractor (such as a company like Superior) is bidding and competing for an INDOT contract that contractor’s ability to effectively meet or exceed those targets is considered as part of the evaluation process INDOT uses to select contractors for contract awards.