For Sitework Developing Inc. in Chagrin Falls, “no job is too big or too small,” according to Jay Blakey, project manager. Because many customers are homeowners drawn by the company’s reputation as a dry basement specialist, a small job is often a one-day drainage repair. On the other end of the scale, Sitework also does excavation and other site projects for custom homebuilders, and it has been involved in some multimillion-dollar, ultra-custom home projects that take a year or more to complete.
About half the company’s work involves individual homeowners plagued by wet basements, so the company’s crews do a lot of work in residential yards. The solution to a wet basement often requires improving the grading near the foundation, repairing drain or footer tiles, or fixing or replacing the storm pipes. The company, which calls itself a one-stop shop for home drainage needs, also provides camera snaking services to locate the problem and waterproofing services.
Sitework crews depend on a fleet of compact Komatsu excavators to get the job done. The company owns machines ranging in size from PC18 to PC170, and each has its advantages for certain tasks. “A lot of times a wet basement is caused by a drainage issue, and we use the smaller equipment to dig down to where the repair needs to be,” Blakey said.
The PC18, for instance, can get into extremely tight spots and “it won’t make a mess in someone’s backyard.” The PC35 is a great size for digging a deeper basement, septic installations, small drainage projects, or for excavating along the side of a house for waterproofing. The PC88 is Sitework’s choice for more general earth moving, house or large-addition excavations, and foundations.
“We have had some of our Komatsu equipment for years. It has been very dependable, the controls are very smooth—all my guys love operating the Komatsu equipment,” Blakey said. “And it has a lot of power for the size; the PC18 size-to-power ratio is really good. Komatsu is our ‘go-to’ for excavators.”
“Sitework has been purchasing small Komatsu excavators for nearly two decades,” said Todd Hornak, Columbus Equipment Company sales representative. “We sold the first one, a PC60-7B, to company owner John Blakey, who had been a John Deere user, back in 1998. I remember John Blakey telling me that the Deere dealer was going to be stunned when they found out he bought a Komatsu,” Hornak added.
“Ultimately, when it comes to Komatsu, the parts are easier to get, and there is good service with Todd. Anytime we need something, he comes through, whether it is rental, demos or a purchase. If there are questions for Todd or issues with a machine, I know I’ll get an answer,” Jay Blakey said.
While the company keeps a fleet of compact and full-size Komatsu equipment, Sitework relies on rentals from Columbus Equipment Company for jobs that require more equipment. For instance, the company has rented Komatsu dozers and larger excavators needed for the custom home work performed mostly in the suburbs east of Cleveland. Recent projects have required D37 to D51 dozers, and PC210 or larger excavators. “I get anything I need for a unique situation from Columbus Equipment,” Blakey said.
The company enjoys the change of pace that this kind of custom work brings, he added. “It’s not often you get a chance to do some of the unique installations we see on these projects.”
John Blakey and his wife, Dory, started Sitework in 1995 after John spent 17 years in the landscaping industry. At first, the company did hardscapes and landscaping, then branched more into excavation, said Jay Blakey, John’s nephew who joined the company in the early 2000s. Another nephew, James Blakey, also serves as a project manager.
The company works mostly in Geauga and Cuyahoga counties and has eight to 12 crews out on an average day. The company does some commercial work, but mostly sticks to residential work. With versatile Komatsu equipment at hand, they are ready for any project, anytime … be it large or small.