It may not be the official company motto, but project manager Matt Luburgh seems to be speaking for everyone at Luburgh Inc. when he says “we love moving a lot of dirt.” In fact, the five Luburgh family members with key management positions at the Zanesville company have more than 200 years of combined experience in earthmoving.
Otto Luburgh is president, his brother Henry is vice president, and Otto’s three sons—Matt, Mark and Curt—are project managers. Other third- and fourth-generation family members also work for the company, one of Ohio’s largest, family-owned earthmoving contractors.
Luburgh Inc. is heavily involved in the energy sector, with customers such as Halliburton, AEP and Consol Energy. The company’s energy-related capabilities include building well pads and transmission plants as well as power plant maintenance work. “We also qualify for Ohio state work, usually in the $40-million range,” noted Otto Luburgh. The company performs emergency work for the Army Corps of Engineers, too.
At the height of a busy summer, the company has about 150 employees, Matt Luburgh said. Luburgh is a union company that works primarily in Ohio and adjoining states, but if enough dirt is involved, the contractor will take a project two states away.
Luburgh generates repeat business thanks to its emphasis on quality. “We strive to perform quality work in a timely manner,” Matt said. “We always meet schedules; that is huge to us. We get the job done as fast and as best as we can. If crews need to work around the clock to meet a deadline, they do,” he added. “On well pads, we have the drilling rigs pushing us. Once a rig is completed on another site, it costs Consol a ton of money to have it sit idle, so they’d rather pay to have us work 24/7 than lose money on the rigs.”
Moving a lot of dirt on schedule requires reliable equipment, and the Luburgh family has counted on Columbus Equipment Company for machinery longer than anyone can remember. The late Tom Stivison, who became Columbus Equipment Company president, “used to be the salesman who called on us,” Otto recalled. Luburgh purchases a range of items—from heavy equipment to Talbert trailers and Ingersoll Rand rollers—from Columbus Equipment Company.
The company was an early user of Komatsu equipment. “We bought Cats, and we would always have to rebuild the final drive,” Otto said. “We have never had to do the final drive on a Komatsu, and that was good step up from the old Cat final drive.” Currently, the fleet includes PC200, PC220, PC360 and PC750 excavators, some mini excavators, and two new HM400-5 articulated trucks. The company also uses Komatsu dozers, including some older D65s and a newer D65WX-17 that is equipped with a Topcon system.
Komatsu’s intelligent Machine Control system machinery is also on Matt’s radar. Contracts for well-pad work require the company to use GPS-equipped machines, so he knows the advantages. “We build well pads with no grade stakes. I have an operator who uses the blade to outline the perimeter.” It’s quite a contrast to his early days with the company when “I crawled through briars to mark a right-of-way.”
Matt likes Komatsu equipment because “we know that 10 years down the road, the Komatsu is still going to be a good machine. Komatsu equipment is reliable, balanced well, and the hydraulics are strong. We never have travel issues on the trackhoes, you know they are going to start and perform every day. That’s huge to a company like us that owns machines rather than leases them.”
Last year, Luburgh Inc. purchased two Komatsu HM400 articulated trucks. “They are like a Cadillac,” Matt said. “They are comfortable, and the guys love them. If you give a guy a machine like that they are going to work harder for you and not going to take as many breaks. It’s climate controlled; there’s no need to get out of the truck. If they are in an old truck with no air-conditioning, they get out to get a cold drink. But the guys in these cabs don’t want to get out, and you get another five or six loads a day versus a guy running an old Terex. If you put them in a dozer with a climate-controlled cab or a heated seat, they might work through lunch.”
Luburgh Inc. traces its roots to shortly after World War II, when C.M. and Ruth Luburgh got into the earthmoving business. At first, their specialty was farm ponds, and they advertised their services in The Ohio Farmer. But the company moved on to bigger projects, including roads and interstate ramps. In the 1950s, Luburgh helped build Salt Fort State Park in Guernsey County.
C.M. passed in 1973, and Ruth in 2014. Their sons took over the business, incorporating it in 1985. In the 1980s, the company helped build Apple Valley Resort. Later, the company took on airport work, including Zanesville Airport, and built landfills. “It’s been crazy watching this company grow,” Matt said. “We started with two trackhoes, now we have about 36 of them. Grandpa would be amazed how far we have come. He wouldn’t even have dreamed of a dozer running by itself.”
But quality, rather than growth, is the company focus. “We love doing quality work. We’ve been family owned for our history, and it’s important to us to have a good relationship with our customers,” Matt said.
He recalled the company got a Smooth Pavement Award for its airport work back in the early 2000s. “We still take pride in that. If we built a road, we still take pride when driving down that road. We like seeing what we did.”
Quality work and pride in a job well done. Grandpa Luburgh might be surprised by an iMC dozer, but he would certainly recognize the old-fashioned virtues at work behind the stick.