This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2015, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
The Ford F-350 Super Duty rumbled down the two-lane road as it reached Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Ore. It was 7:30 a.m. and the driver, Marvin Steed, was asleep.
Steed later told police he woke as the truck crashed and came to a stop in the middle of a fountain next to the campus' welcome center.
Neither Steed, his passenger nor anyone at the college was hurt.
According to the police report, Steed said he was working for Phaze Concrete a construction company based in Hildale, Utah, home to the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
A Salt Lake Tribune investigation has found Phaze is a major financier of the FLDS Church. Former employees have said large portions of their pay were sent to the sect and that Phaze used underage employees, some of whom drove heavy machinery.
Phaze had an important contract in Roseburg. It was working on an expansion of the Wal-Mart there. Steed's shift helping with earthwork and pouring concrete was 9 p.m. to 7 a.m.
Wal-Mart stores aren't just another job to Phaze.
Phaze has been a subcontractor on 70 Wal-Mart stores constructed or remodeled since the start of 2003, according to an application Phaze President Paul Beagley submitted last year.
At the end of 2013, Phaze merged with another company founded by FLDS members called Jack Daniel's Construction. It has been a construction contractor on at least 13 Wal-Mart or Sam's Club stores since 2009, according to public records and interviews with a former employee.
Beagley told the trade publication US Builders Review in 2014 that at that time Phaze had five current contracts for Wal-Mart stores.
Those projects pay well. The subcontract to provide earthwork and pour concrete on a single Wal-Mart can be worth up to $3.5 million.
"I'd say Wal-Mart is what helped us expand the most," said Dan Jessop, co-founder of Jack Daniel's Construction. He became a general manager with Phaze after the two companies combined.
On its website, Wal-Mart says, "General contractors independently select subcontractors for each project."
Getting their start • In response to Tribune questions, Delia Garcia, a Wal-Mart spokeswoman, issued a statement.
"General contractors are selected through a competitive bid process," the statement said. "General contractors are responsible for hiring, paying and managing the subcontractors. We expect all General contractors and their subcontractors to comply with all applicable local, state and federal laws as well as Walmart's Ethics Standards."
Jessop, 31, talked to The Tribune for about an hour in March, but did not reply to requests for further interviews. He and a younger brother, Jackson, founded Jack Daniel's in Texas in 2009. The two had worked in construction their whole lives and decided to start their own company.
One of their first projects, Jessop said in March, was for the rental and retail chain Aaron's. Jack Daniel's built stores for it in Ohio and Texas. The contracts were relatively small. Corporate records Jack Daniel's filed later say each store contract was worth $275,000.
Then, in 2010, Roche Constructors, based in Greeley, Colo., was looking for a subcontractor to provide earthwork, pour concrete and install utilities for a new Wal-Mart in El Paso, Texas, near the intersection of two major thoroughfares.
Not just anyone can pour concrete at a Wal-Mart. At many Wal-Marts, the floors customers walk and push their shopping carts on are polished concrete, and the retailer has strict specifications for flatness and quality. Wal-Mart requires that concrete subcontractors have at least three people who are certified by the American Concrete Institute, a scientific and technical resource for the industry.
Dan Jessop said he and his brother have that certification. A review of documents filed by Phaze and Jack Daniel's through the years show other foremen, superintendents and managers in the companies are certified, too.
Still, on that first El Paso Wal-Mart, Jack Daniel's had to convince a consulting firm Wal-Mart employs on construction projects, Structural Services Inc., that it could handle the job.
"We blew a lot of sunshine and pulled the wool over their eyes a little bit," Jessop said, without elaborating. "But once we got in there, we did the work."
The contract paid $2.8 million, according to records Jack Daniel's filed later. Jessop said that first Wal-Mart was huge for a small business that was trying to grow.
"We were quite aggressive," Jessop said, "and felt like we knew the market and knew the qualifications and our guys."
Later in 2010, Roche hired Jack Daniel's for another Wal-Mart job, this time an expansion of a Supercenter in Vista, Calif.
Meanwhile, Phaze already had found its way to Wal-Mart likely the same way Jack Daniel's did, through general contractors.
John R. Beagley Sr. founded Phaze in 2003, though at the time it was called John Beagley & Sons Inc. Beagley, 70, once served in the Utah National Guard's 222nd Field Artillery and has a long history in the construction industry, according to interviews with friends and family.
"My father has been in concrete since before I was born," Paul Beagley told US Builders Review. "He used to pick me up after school and we would do driveways together."
Hard, efficient workers • When the door and window company Davis Johnson was working for closed in 2008, he went to his FLDS bishop in Hildale and Colorado City Lyle Jeffs, the brother of imprisoned FLDS President Warren Jeffs. He told Johnson which FLDS businesses needed workers. Johnson wound up at Phaze concrete.
The first job Phaze sent Davis to was the Wal-Mart in Saratoga Springs on State Road 73. Johnson said the crew there had just finished pouring the floor and was working on the sidewalks and trimming.
Johnson worked for Phaze for five years until he was evicted from the FLDS Church for reasons he says were never explained to him. While at Phaze, he said, he worked on the Wal-Mart on SR-73 as well as in Gardnerville, Nev., Polson, Mont., and Clovis, Calif.
Phaze rarely hired men from outside the FLDS Church.
"They're work ethic is inefficient," Johnson explained of non-FLDS workers. "Smoke breaks all the time. Where I'm from you're not supposed to smoke cigarettes and chase women."
General contractors and project owners interviewed by The Tribune said they have never had a problem with Phaze or Jack Daniel's. Some were aware Phaze had headquarters in Hildale, but those interviewed said they were unaware of the companies' FLDS connections.
"We never heard any concerns from any of their employees about payment and so forth," said Tom Roche, president of Roche Constructors.
Jessop said he planned to continue seeking Wal-Mart projects, but was also considering other ways to expand.
"We don't particularly have any reason to change what we're doing right now," Jessop said. "It's working quite well. It's always a business topic. Obviously Wal-Mart isn't going to be building forever."