Tempe company picked to build concrete prototype of border wall has troubled past

Posted: Updated:

A Tempe company has been selected as one of the companies that will produce a concrete prototype of the border wall, but it has a bit of a troubled past.

The Department of Homeland Security announced Thursday announced that Tempe-based Fisher Industries is among the four vendors picked to produce a prototype for President Donald Trump's promised US-Mexico border wall, a step forward for the project after months of delays.

The announcement came after the Government Accountability Office on Friday dismissed a protest filed on the contract awards that had delayed the projects, wrapping early a process that could have pushed the delay into November. DHS had originally targeted June for the beginning of construction, but the process had dragged further into the summer as the contracts were decided.

[RAW VIDEO: Feds announce vendors for border wall prototypes]

Customs and Border Protection's acting Deputy Commissioner Ronald Vitiello announced that the top designs for a concrete wall that will be built along the San Diego border will be from four companies. There were two requests for proposals: a 30-foot high concrete wall design and then any other alternatives. The latter will be announced in the next week, CBP said.

    The four companies named to build were Caddell Construction Co (DE), LLC, of Montgomery, Alabama; Fisher Sand & Gravel Co., DBA Fisher Industries, of Tempe, Arizona; Texas Sterling Construction Co., of Houston, Texas; W. G. Yates & Sons Construction Company, of Philadelphia, Mississippi.

    About the Tempe company

    Fisher Sand & Gravel is licensed with the Arizona Registrar of Contractors and has no open complaints against it, but it has been fined in the past.

    In 2013, the Justice Department and the Environmental Protection Agency issued a $150,000 fine for dust violations in Maricopa County.

    Two years before that, the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality imposed $187,000 in penalties for dumping waste into a creek.

    Fisher Sand & Gravel also was the subject of a 2010 3 On Your Side report.

    The company was allegedly operating an asphalt mixing plant in Phoenix without a permit. In the four years the asphalt operation was open -- the company shut it down voluntarily about a week before 3 On Your Side's report aired --  Fisher racked up about 2,000 violation notices from the city and county. It appealed about 1,500 of them.

    In February 2010, a month before Fished closed the plant, the City of Phoenix filed 467 criminal charges against the company, carrying fines of up to $20,000 a piece.

    The suit did not affect the company's sand and gravel operation.

    [WATCH and READ MORE: Fisher Sand & Gravel shuts down asphalt plant (March 1, 2010)]

    Construction on prototypes to begin soon

    CBP has said it anticipates building four to eight prototypes and said Thursday it expects construction to begin this fall.

    [RELATED: DHS to announce vendors for border wall prototypes]

    In late July, CBP's legislative affairs office sent out a memo, obtained by CNN, that two companies that were not selected to be finalists -- who then were asked to submit more detailed proposals -- filed a total of four protests of the process. While two of the protests, from WNIS, were dismissed, two from Penna Group were put under review by GAO.

    On Friday, in an announcement of the dismissal of the protest, CBP did note that once contracts are awarded, companies will have another opportunity to protest, which could add further delays. Nevertheless, CBP said "we are confident in our processes, and we will proceed deliberately, to ensure compliance with the law."

    The prototypes will "help us create a 'design standard' for operational walls," CBP said. "The new designs would be added to our menu of existing designs, and allow us to tailor a specific wall design to the unique demands of individual areas of the border."

    The money for the process came from $20 million that Congress authorized the Department of Homeland Security to pull from other places in the budget earlier this year. Congress has not yet authorized any further money to actually build new miles of wall, though Trump has issued a threat to shut down the government if they don't do so this year.

    Fisher Sand & Gravel released the following statement:

    "Fisher Sand & Gravel is pleased to announce that the U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP) has awarded Fisher Sand & Gravel a contract to develop a prototype for construction of a wall along the Southern border of the United States.

    “We are extremely excited and grateful for the opportunity to be a part of this important project,” said company President Thomas Fisher. Fisher Sand & Gravel Company, with headquarters in Dickinson, ND has established operations throughout the western United States including Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and California. Fisher Sand & Gravel’s operations in the Southwest gives firsthand knowledge of the terrain and landscape of the territory and the challenges that come with them."

    Click/tap here to download the free azfamily mobile app.

    Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.