No matter who ends up paying for President Trump's border wall, billions of dollars will flow to American contractors who are lining up to bid for a piece of the project.
Thomas Fisher, whose company, Fisher Sand & Gravel, hopes to land a contract to help build the barrier on the United States' southern border, is among six contractors who were picked to present prototypes for the government gig.
Fisher told FoxNews.com his prototype features characteristics that could give him the edge over his competition. Not only is it waterproof, it also provides flood protection and is easy on the eyes.
He also wants to “construct a patrol road on both sides of the wall – including an elevated roadway that would provide an advantage view for patrol agents and also provides a highway that makes border patrol safer, faster and more effective.”
Fisher says he started working on the prototype two years ago when then-candidate Trump "made a bold statement that we're looking to protect the entire border from one end to another."
“I’ve always been a person who thought outside the box along with the team and because we’re so vertically integrated I wanted to really do something that was unique so we started working on it almost two years ago when he first mentioned it in some of his campaign pledges," Fisher said.
In March, the government asked for design submissions for two types of wall – a reinforced concrete barrier and one made from “other materials” that are see-through. The Trump administration also specified that the wall must be “aesthetically pleasing in color” from the U.S. side, at least. The rule does not apply to the Mexican side.
Initially, more than 200 companies submitted proposals to build the wall. By August, the field had been narrowed to six contractors who were tasked with building eight prototypes. Crews broke ground on a strip of land near the Otay Mesa Port of Entry near the San Diego in late September for the border build-off.
Department of Homeland Security officials are expected to spend up to two months using small hand tools like hammers and mallets to test the walls and their durability.
The prototypes are 30 feet long and up to 30 feet high and have been built near one another. Trump indicated in December that he would visit the area to check out the mini-walls early this year.
Two of the eight prototypes have a see-through design.
Texas Sterling Construction’s prototype features a pretty stone façade on the United States side. The Mexican side is a simple concrete wall with razor wire.
Fisher’s prototype is made of colored concrete.
“We really felt that concrete is the only viable option,” he told Fox News.
Fisher says if selected, his border wall will be “100 percent American made.”
He plans on partnering with construction equipment giant Caterpillar, CMC rebar, Arizona Portland Cement Company and will have banking and bonding support from Liberty Mutual Insurance.
Fisher said he’s confident his newly-developed cast-in-form process will exceed the needs of customs, border patrol and project specifications the Trump administration has set.
But winning the design challenge doesn’t automatically translate to a big paycheck. The companies selected to build the prototypes are not necessarily the ones that will be picked to build the wall. Another bidding process would take place if the funding for the wall comes through.
It also remains unclear when the wall might actually go up. Trump campaigned on building it and set a timetable for construction but the deadline has come and gone. Critics also argue the barrier would be ineffective and costly.
On the campaign trail, Trump said Mexico would pay for the bill. That hasn’t happened – and likely won’t ever happen. He also said the cost to build the wall would be $4 billion. Estimates have ranged wildly, but have since soared as high as $70 billion, though the actual cost is not clear.
Critics have also cited everything from bedrock depth to soil chemistry as potential complications in building a wall spanning the 2,000-mile border. The southern border between the U.S. and Mexico is made up of wetlands, grasslands, desert, rivers, mountains and forests – all of which could pose as pitfalls for builders.
Fisher dismissed concerns – and says it won’t be a problem with his prototype.
To have a “really effective border system” Fisher says “we need a constant border.”
And he’s so confident in his design, he’s offering a guarantee and has set an ambitious deadline. He tells Fox he will be able to construct the first 700 miles of border wall within 10 years.
“California, New Mexico and Arizona would all be complete,” he said. “No exceptions.”
Not everyone is on board with Fisher Sand & Gravel. While the company has no open complaints against it, it has been fined in the past over environmental issues.
In 2013, the Justice Department and the Environmental Protection Agency issued a $150,000 fine for dust violations.
In 2010, Fisher’s company was allegedly operating an asphalt mixing plant in Phoenix without a permit. The company’s asphalt mixing plant was only open for four years before it was shuttered voluntarily. A month before the plant was closed, the City of Phoenix filed 467 criminal charges against the company.
“Fisher Sand & Gravel Fisher is a good environmental steward and we take environmental responsibility very seriously,” the company told Fox News in a written statement. “We complied with all orders and everything has been resolved.”
Aside from Fisher, the other companies chosen to build concrete prototypes are Caddell Construction Co. of Montgomery, Ala.; Texas Sterling Construction of Houston; and W.G. Yates & Sons Construction Co. of Philadelphia Miss.
The companies building prototypes using alternate materials include Fisher, Caddell, W.G. Yates & Sons, KWR Construction of Sierra Vista, Ariz., and ELTA North America of Annapolis Junction, Md.