Follow our timeline from our humble beginnings in 1982, to our thriving modern operation.
1982 - SONNY HANGS HIS SHINGLE
Cooper Rail Service, Inc. was founded in 1982 by Charles “Sonny” Cooper with one backhoe and a dump truck. We began building short sidings and spur tracks along with performing backhoe work for the local track and bridge railroad departments for Norfolk Southern.
1989 - THE FIRST BRIDGE BUILD
Our first Norfolk Southern bridge is built in Huntingburg using mostly rented equipment, and a crew size of 5 people. This was quickly followed by 4 Norfolk Southern bridges in Georgia.
1995 - WOOD TIMBER BRIDGE MAINTENANCE
This project started with our 2nd customer (Indiana Railroad). From there, our customer base expanded to more short-line railroads.
2005 - CSX BRIDGE
This bridge in South Carolina brought on our 2nd national railroad customer.
2007 - SONNY SELLS THE BUSINESS TO RYAN & KIT
In 2007, brothers Kit and Ryan purchased Cooper Rail Service, Inc. from their father and have grown the business considerably by continuing to focus on building railroad bridges and also by expanding services for the railroad and other industries. Both brothers grew up in the company and worked on the bridge and maintenance-of-way crews since their teenage years. Ryan started with the company in 1985 as a machine operator and by 1992 began managing projects. He became President in 2007 when he and his brother purchased the business from their father Charles “Sonny” Cooper. Ryan’s passion lies in managing the equipment side of the business. He ensures efficiency in our execution by having the right equipment for every job. Kit first began with Cooper Rail Service, Inc. in 1989 and become a skilled crane operator who specialized in bridge building. He became Vice President in 2007. Now with over 25 years of experience, Kit has bid and managed every type of project in our service offering. Kit's specialty is identifying ways to build smarter.
2010 - 1ST DESIGN/BRIDGE BUILD
Illinois Midland Railroad bridge in Petersburg, IL awarded our first design/build bridge project. Since 2010, Cooper Contracting has done over $4 million in design/build projects.
2011 - EXPANDED MAINTENANCE-OF-WAY SERVICES
With the addition of grapple trucks with rail gear, the grapple (material handling) trucks increased the breadth of maintenance-of-way services available to assist existing railroad crews.
2016 - COOPER CONTRACTING BECOMES OFFICIAL
Cooper Rail Service, Inc. began using the doing business name as Cooper Contracting in 2016. We broadened the service offering as well as the customer base to include governmental, agricultural, industrial, and residential customers. An opportunity to serve the community also presented itself with the purchase of a crusher. The crusher allows us to take construction concrete and asphalt debris and process it into reusable materials for backfill or road bases.
2020 - ONWARDS AND UPWARDS
Cooper Contracting continues to grow in size and expertise while serving the Midwest. In 2020, we introduced our Jack & Bore services for installing pipe under tracks or roads with minimal disruption to traffic. Our years of experience and specialized equipment ensures that every job is expertly and efficiently done.