No business can keep posting triple- and double-digit revenue increases forever, but it’d be hard to prove that by looking at SiteWORX’s record. The Lebanon-based contractor has made the Cincinnati Business Courier’s Fast 55 four years in a row, starting in 2013. The company’s revenues increased nearly tenfold between 2010 and 2012, from a little over $500,000 to $5.7 million. By 2015, revenues topped $21 million, and they’re still rising.
Not bad for college buddies who just happened to see The Great Recession as an opportunity, rather than an obstacle. “We never dreamed it would be anything big,” said Matt Smith, co-owner and president of SiteWORX. “We were pouring patios and doing whatever we could to pay the bills.”
Today, the company provides site development services including mass excavation, fine grading, underground utilities, and concrete curb and flatwork. Much of its work is for residential developers around Cincinnati, and SiteWORX also now manages public improvement and commercial projects.
Smith credits a lot of SiteWORX’s phenomenal growth to the expanding economy, noting more work is available than a few years ago. The company has also grown market share by building solid relationships with developers such as Fischer Homes and M/I Homes, who hire SiteWORX again and again for new projects.
But another factor that sets SiteWORX apart is the company’s willingness to embrace cutting-edge, industry technology, including intelligent Machine Control (iMC) equipment from Komatsu. SiteWORX was one of the first companies to buy a Komatsu iMC dozer from Columbus Equipment Company, and it recently purchased its fourth D61i iMC dozer.SiteWORX was also the first contractor in the United States to purchase, and put to work, Komatsu’s new PC490LCi-11 excavator.
Smith sees plenty of reasons to make such a significant investment in iMC. “As much as anything, it’s an accuracy thing. iMC allows us to present a far better finished product than we were able to before,” he said. Being perfectly on grade the first time means less rework and remobilizations and helps keep projects on schedule.
Machines with intelligent control also help ease issues caused by the tight labor market, which Smith describes as “pretty desperate right now.” “I can take someone who has been a dozer operator for a few years, and with the iMC technology he can perform almost as well as an operator who has been doing it for 20 years. The technology definitely makes them a better operator. Someone who has been doing it for 20 years can visualize what he is building, even without grade stakes. He can tell which way the site needs to drain, etc.” A D61i performs those tasks for the operator.
Older, seasoned operators have also embraced the Komatsu technology, Smith added. “With the Komatsu machines they know where they are and where the grade is at all times, which is something all operators want to know.”
SiteWORX recently took delivery of the PC490i and “we are already seeing great benefits from it,” Smith said. “We do most of our mass excavation with an excavator loading off-road trucks, and that was one area lacking in grade-control technology. When an excavator is sitting on a 2-foot or 20-foot cut, the operator wants to know where the grade is. Aftermarket systems help, but you still have the hardware you have to bolt on and off, and the systems are kind of glitchy. On Komatsu’s iMC excavator, all the components are integrated into the machine and the operator knows if he’s right on grade as he loads trucks.”
In excavation, the biggest problem has always been overcutting or undercutting, he noted. “The PC490i will not let you go below the proposed grade, and it aids the operator in being on grade for those final passes where we have struggled. It doesn’t slow productivity; the operator runs the machine exactly as he would before.”
Just as the D61i dozers have eliminated the need for someone to place stakes, the PC490i is eliminating the need for a grade-checker, and there’s no need to fill in spots that were cut below grade or scrape away material that was missed.
Reduced work and reduced need for support staff are two of the ways iMC equipment helps increase efficiency, he said.
When Smith demoed a Komatsu D61i to see the integrated machine control, he wasn’t expecting to be impressed by the dozer itself, but “everyone at the demo loved the D61i. It was best in class for sure, even aside from the GPS functionality. The way it is designed and constructed is completely different from the competition, all in good ways. The visibility is phenomenal with the mid-cab design. It has great power and the hydrostatic control does a good job of getting the power it has to the ground, even through the turns.”
While Komatsu makes iMC dozers in several sizes, the D61i suits SiteWORX’s needs. “It is big enough to do some more substantial work, but it is small and nimble enough to do finish work as well,” Smith said.
The D61i was his first purchase from Columbus Equipment Company. “Columbus Equipment has been a good dealer. They have been very helpful in making sure we have whatever we need,” Smith said. “If we want to demo something, buy something, or need buckets or attachments, they are always there for us.”
Along with Matt Smith, SiteWORX is owned by Joe Smith (no relation), a friend from Cincinnati State Tech, and Mike Smith, Matt’s father, who has spent his career in construction. Joe handles estimating and bidding, and Mike manages all the field operations.
The three Smiths operate their company with a simple, customer-oriented philosophy. “We’re not looking to do one job for a customer. We want to do the next one and the one after that,” Matt said. “We want to add value to our services beyond just price. In the services we provide, we want to make their life as easy as we can during the process of development.” A common-sense approach, producing a highly-uncommon outcome.