Nicolozakes Trucking & Construction Inc. Honors a Family Legacy Inspired by The Great Depression
In the 60-plus years since the Nicolozakes Trucking Company's original founding as a trucking company with one truck to its name, the current Nicolozakes Trucking & Construction Inc. has become a diversified, multi-faceted company, offering a wide range of services in southeastern Ohio and the surrounding area. The company provides crane, rigging and millwright services; oil and gas services such as rigging, excavating and grading; specialized hauling; general contracting services; factory disassembly and relocation as well as catering to industrial and manufacturing customers.
The company's philosophy has always been to concentrate on core competencies and to follow a path of slow, conservative growth, said William A. (Bill) Nicolozakes, president. "We are not afraid to look customers in the eye and turn away work rather than take on more than we can perform to our quality standards."
Bill and his cousin Dean Nicolozakes, secretary-treasurer, learned about disciplined growth from their fathers, company founders Stanley and William G. (Bill) Nicolozakes. The founders' father, Gust Nicolozakes, was a living example of hard work. He emigrated to the United States at the age of 14 and worked as a miner, cowboy and baker before losing everything during The Great Depression. Gust later started a trucking company and hauled coal.
When Gust retired, Bill and Stanley inherited one truck—without an engine. They won enough money in a craps game to buy an engine and began building their company in 1953, borrowing money to buy more trucks. "My dad told us a thousand times, ‘You don't know stress until you've borrowed money and have to tell the bank you can't make the first payment'," Bill said. "Fortunately, they reinvested in the company as they grew."
The Nicolozakeses continue to invest in the company. In the last year, they realized they needed a larger crane than the 90-ton Grove TM890 that was their largest in a fleet of five cranes. "The purchase was customer driven. We have a corral of excellent operators, and our services are in high demand because we perform quality work and are a local company," Bill said. The executives felt confident demand would remain high.
With the cautiousness that is ingrained in the company culture, they embarked on a thorough search for the right crane for their needs, comparing Grove, Terex and Link-Belt machines. After touring Link-Belt's manufacturing plant in Kentucky, they decided to purchase a new Link-Belt HTC-3140 LB from Columbus Equipment Company.
"We were impressed that they weld and press the booms in Kentucky. We were also impressed with the crane's safety systems and the operator friendliness of the crane control system, Link-Belt's customer support is also impressive," said Dean, a certified crane operator.
They found Link-Belt employees to be professional, knowledgeable, and attentive to detail. "We could see their passion down there," Bill said. "Gary Rice (the company's regional sales manager for Ohio) gave us straight answers to our questions."
Originally, the Nicolozakeses had considered purchasing a 100-ton Link-Belt 86100, "but we were kicking around the idea of getting a larger crane, and once we saw the 3140, we realized that was the right machine for what we do," Bill said. "The 140-ton crane allows us to perform a wider range of services for customers, offers additional capacity for lifting jobs and provides an additional safety buffer for personnel."
Another factor in Link-Belt's favor was Columbus Equipment Company's customer support. Nicolozakes Trucking was founded just a year after Columbus Equipment started, and the two companies have had a good relationship since the early days. "Columbus Equipment sold us two of the Grove cranes we own—we bought them new back in 1986. Columbus Equipment has a proven track record, and we feel confident that if we have any service requirements, they will be responsive. They have a good network of experienced technicians. They understand that we and our customers cannot afford to be down for any period of time," Bill said.
"Columbus Equipment still assists Nicolozakes Trucking with their Grove cranes," noted Joe Moore, Columbus Equipment sales representative. "The 3140 is their first Link-Belt purchase. It met all their criteria for lifting capabilities for the different applications they will use it for, primarily in the energy business but also for commercial work. It is a highly versatile piece of equipment."
In addition to investing in quality equipment, "one of our most important investments is in our people," Bill said. "A few years ago, when work was slow, we kept men working in our own shop instead of sending them home, in an effort to retain our quality people. We have a family culture and solid people who are good at what they do. We are proud of what we do. We vet employees personally to ensure we only have top quality people here."
The company is still family run, with Bill, Dean and Dean's brother—Bill J. Nicolozakes (vice president of engineering)—in leadership roles. Dean's son John has also started working for the company as safety and business development manager, adding another generation to the mix—another generation learning that safety, quality, and thoughtful growth are key ingredients in the family recipe for success.