Like many Ohio construction companies, Fabrizi Trucking and Paving Company Inc. traces its roots back to a few relatives who joined forces to create a small business so they could provide for their families. Nearly 70 years later, Fabrizi is still family owned and operated, but it’s no small business any longer.
Today, Cleveland-based Fabrizi is a heavy highway, underground site, utility and concrete paving contractor that employs as many as 250 in the busy season. The company has up to 20 projects going on at any one time, and most are large municipal projects such as sewer reconstructions and roadways. A recent project, for example was a $6 million contract to repair the storm and sanitary sewers along Avalon Drive in Rocky River, as part of a project to eliminate storm sewer overflows in the northeastern Ohio city. The contract included replacing sidewalks, curbs and driveway aprons as needed. At the same time, the company had a $1 million contract to replace a main water line in Rocky River.
Emil Fabrizi, president, said the company was founded in 1949 by his father, uncles and a great uncle. At first, the men did landscaping and hauled coal. “From that, they got into concrete paving, then they started doing underground work to keep busy in the winter. It evolved into a mainstay for us,” he noted. Emil took over operations in 1994, when his father retired. “Now it’s pretty much me and my cousins, along with my uncle, Frank—the sole remaining founder—who still picks up parts from Columbus Equipment on a regular basis.” His mother is semi-retired but she still works in the office along with his sister, who runs the administrative side of the business with her daughter and son-in-law. A dozen family members hold positions ranging from maintenance shop superintendent to concrete crew foreman.
In the mid-1990s, the company also entered the recycling business, crushing concrete and stone. Emil’s sister, Maria, runs Fabrizi Recycling. This Women’s Business Enterprise operation produces about 100,000 tons a year, with Fabrizi as a prime customer for its own projects, and selling the rest. Fabrizi Recycling also performs projects similar in nature to Fabrizi and has its own fleet of Komatsu equipment.
With the amount and variety of jobs Fabrizi Trucking and Paving works on, the company needs a range of equipment. For excavators, the company leans very heavily toward Komatsu equipment. The company owns 40 excavators, and 30 of them are Komatsu machines, Fabrizi noted, everything from a PC600 down to a PC55. The fleet includes four of the workhorse PC228 machines, three PC160s and three PC138s. Fabrizi also owns three sizes of Komatsu dozers.
“We have been buying Komatsu equipment since the mid-80s,” Fabrizi said, noting the first purchase was a PC220-3. Within a few years, the company was purchasing almost exclusively Komatsu excavators. “We are sold on the durability and the longevity we get from our Komatsu machines,” he said. “They don’t need many repairs, especially for the hours we put on them.”
The machines are operator-friendly too, and that works well for the way the company moves equipment around. “We get a lot of flexibility with the equipment, because with the ease of operation, anyone can run them. That makes it easy for us to put different operators on them,” Fabrizi explained.
Tony Riggi is Fabrizi’s general superintendent and the guy who manages the movement of equipment. He knows that his operators love the Komatsu excavators. “Every time we ask for feedback, the operators want us to go with the Komatsu.” Among the features that the operators like are “the comfort and visibility. All the new ones have the backup camera, and the operators love those.”
Operators also like the swing and stick controls on the Komastu excavator. “They feel like they have the control of the machine at their fingertips,” Riggi said, and that’s important for critical tasks like digging around utilities.
Having a variety of sizes of excavators allows Riggi to match the machine with the task. “We have the small models for driveway aprons, for example, and when we are putting in new sewers we go with the larger machines. We have divisions that do new sewers, road excavation, pavement, landscaping, so we need all the different sizes.”
“Komatsu excavators are efficient and well-priced. We have had great luck with the longevity of the machines. They hold up very well,” Riggi noted. “Reliability is important because if the excavator is down, our crew is down. If the excavator is down, we still have to pay the crew, so uptime is important.”
The company generally keeps a machine as long as its operating costs are low. “The oldest Komatsu in our fleet is a PC220-5 purchased from Columbus Equipment Company in 1994. It has at least 26,000 hours, maybe more than that,” Fabrizi said. “It’s still used regularly. It runs a hammer for Fabrizi Recycling with one of its crusher crews.”
Fabrizi has been a Columbus Equipment Company customer since “the mid-80s,” he added. “They have a good sales team, and they always get us the information that we need. Richfield Branch manager Jeff Badner and the service department have always been very thorough and done a good job for us. Any warranty problems have been worked out to our satisfaction.”
While Fabrizi has a full staff of mechanics, the company turns to Columbus Equipment for warranty work, parts, or to relieve the pressure when the mechanics are swamped. And Columbus Equipment is always just a call away when an issue arises, Riggi said. “We can call them with a question and they will troubleshoot it right there for our mechanic. We are always happy with Columbus Equipment Company.”
Fabrizi Trucking and Paving has been rebuilding back to the size it was before the recession, and Emil Fabrizi is hopeful the company will reach that milestone by the end of 2017. No matter its size, however, the company retains the values its founders had in the 1940s. “We have a good work ethic and get projects completed in a safe and time-efficient manner,” Fabrizi said.