Flexibility Is The Hallmark of F&F Trenching 

MOB Traffic adapts to the changing needs of longtime clientele.  

The first time Clay Flippin got the call, he almost couldn’t believe it. A prospective client called him to dig out trenches, put pool linings in place, and fill the pools with water. A few days later, he would need to drain the pools, remove the lining, and fill the trenches again, leaving no trace as if it were a secret operation. 

Even more astonishing, it wasn’t anything but secret. More than 100,000 people would apply to avoid swimming in one of those pools, while almost 3 million tune in to watch them. The show, better known as American Ninja Warrior, is a huge success. 

American Ninja Warrior set construction, including pool dig.

“Since the initial call, we’ve developed a great relationship with NBC and A. Smith & Co.,” says Clay Flippin, owner and general manager of F&F Trenching. “So, whenever people tune in to see ‘Mount Midoriyama,’ the finals course that spans four football fields in Las Vegas, they see our work. Every obstacle, about 22 or 23 of them, are set over water.”

If you have never seen the show, the National Finals Course consists of four stages, each with six to eight obstacles, except the last stage, which tests competitors’ agility and speed, strength and speed, upper body and grip strength, and then overall endurance with a 75-foot rope climb. The nationals have been held in Las Vegas annually since season four, except for season 12. The next season will be held in Las Vegas this June with a winner’s prize of up to $1 million (total victory) plus $100,000 for the last ninja standing.

“It’s very exciting to be part of something like this,” says Flippin. “It gives us a chance to showcase yet another side to our home, Las Vegas.”

American Ninjas Warrior. Courtesy NBC.

It makes sense, given Clay Flippin’s deep ties to Nevada. His grandfather, T.O. Flippin, first moved to the area in 1952 and eventually founded Flippin Trenching. It was there that Flippin landed his first job, going to work for the family-run business when he was 13.

“I would work side by side with Ken Flippin Jr. doing whatever our grandpa needed doing, sweeping floors and learning the business,” says Flippin. “After high school graduation, I took five days off and then went to work at Flippin Trenching full time, working my way up until becoming a project manager, running the shop and taking care of the equipment.”

Flippin might still be working at Flippin Trenching today, but his uncle, Ken Flippin Sr., had another idea. Flippin Trenching needed help expanding into the residential industry because the work required different licenses, insurance, and operations model. So he asked Flippin if he would be willing to start an independent residential division under the F&F Trenching name so the family could operate in both markets. 

“We started the company with a focus on excavation for tract homes and custom homes,” says Flippin. “It was immediately successful, right up until the 2007-08 housing market crash.”

The market crash, which caused the loss of close to $6 trillion in housing wealth and a severe economic recession, bankrupted many companies in its wake. But Clay Flippin refused to give up. He sold some of the company’s equipment to stay afloat and then looked for ways to diversify his services while not directly competing with Flippin Trenching.

Basement dig for the Summit, F&F Trenching.

“What we found was that our operation model fit perfectly within the wireless and cell phone industry,” said Flippin. “These weren’t million-dollar union contracts like those pursued by Flippin Trenching. Instead, we would look for 2-3 small jobs a week. We’re known for being reliable, usually in and out as quickly as possible, which is ideal for a certain type of customer, which now includes electric vehicle charging stations, underground utilities, retail rebuilds, grease traps, and other precision excavation jobs.”

Many of these jobs require rapid planning approvals across multiple jurisdictions, which makes Masters of Barricades well-suited as F&F Trenching’s traffic management and barricade company of choice. Few companies have as much depth and experience working with the city, county, and NDOT simultaneously.

“Honestly, I leave everything in MOB Traffic’s hands,” says Flippin. “They are always there for me when we need something in a hurry. The relationship goes way back to the day when Jeff Pritchett dropped by the office and put his business card in my hand. I didn’t need them when most of our work was residential, but they became an important part of our team as we focused more on cell phone towers and utilities. They take care of us.”

Today, about 75 percent of F&F Trenching’s work is related to utilities, including power, water, sewer, fiber optics, cell towers, and charging stations. One of their newest customers is Tesla, installing electric vehicle charging stations across southern Nevada in cooperation with NV Energy. The work often requires detail, given the new charging stations are being installed at existing retail sites like Boca Park, Las Vegas South Premium Outlets, or even local hotels. 

Flipping Racing. Three generations.

“It’s dirt work to some people, but I’ve always loved playing in it,” adds Flippin. “Even when I’m not at work, I’m ready to go. When I was 15, Tom Bradley, Sr., invited me to jump in an off-road race car, and it stuck with my family and me.”

Recently, Flippin watched his sons, Matthew and Tyler, win their first division championship in 2023. So keep an eye on the family’s Flippin Racing “hobby,” too. Their first big win came at the end of their rookie season. 

Tyler Flippin. Third generation racer and 2023 series champion.

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