T.C. Holzen Inc. has been following a steady growth curve for a decade, growing from about $1 million in annual revenue at the start of the decade to over $10 million now. The contractor’s growth followed the decision to diversify from mainly pipework to a range of commercial, industrial, and public works projects, said Tim Holzen Jr., president.
“Primarily our business is commercial and industrial site development from the ground up,” Holzen said. “When I started I was doing pipework, but since 2010, I’ve gotten into more dirt work. If you want to do a complete package on a site development, you have to take the dirt with the pipe. We also do some road construction work and we have a crew that specializes in high-voltage infrastructure—electric substations. We also do a lot of gas stations and truck stops.”
Most of the Troy, Ohio-based company’s work comes from repeat business. Holzen works mainly in southwestern and Central Ohio, including Dayton, Cincinnati and Columbus, with some projects in Kentucky.
Adding three Komatsu intelligent dozers in the last four years has helped facilitate the company’s growth. “We had to step up to the plate to be competitive in our market,” he explained, because other contractors were using GPS technology. In 2015, he invested in both a Komatsu D51i intelligent dozer and a Topcon rover and base for existing equipment.
“Being old school, I wasn’t sold on it, but my employees encouraged me,” Holzen said. “Now, four years later, we have three Komatsu i-machines and we lean on four base and rover systems. As soon as we got the first intelligent machine, our productivity increased about 20 percent.”
Holzen added a D61i and D39i in 2019. Along with increased productivity, “we’re also saving cost in survey work. It’s cut our surveying work down by about 60 percent,” he added. “I was surprised when we got the first i-dozer by the increase in productivity and the savings in survey work. I was expecting 10% to 15% improvement, and I ended up getting 20%.”
He noted that “intelligent machines are ideal for spreading base stone for roads and parking lots. It saves us 25% in time. It has also instantly turned a two-man job into a one-man job because the operator sees all the grade from inside the machine.”
Another advantage with the Komatsu iMC dozers is “we can throw a less experienced operator in one and get the job done. We can take a younger guy, and he’s got his grade in front of him and the blade knows what to do,” Holzen said.
“We use the intelligent dozers for complete site development for new buildings, for road construction and of course for truck stops. All of our dirt movement and finish grading is done with intelligent machines.”
Holzen is particularly a fan of the Komatsu D61i. “It’s a multipurpose machine. It can do the heavy cuts right on down to the finish grading. It’s very versatile. The size is big enough to push large dirt work, and you can turn around and do finish work at the end. The visibility out of the cab is awesome—you can see the whole blade.”
“The controls are fine-tuned and sensitive,” added Holzen, who entered the construction trade as a teenager. “You just have to bump the lever and the blade will go up a quarter-inch. In the old days, it’d go up 2 inches at a time.”
Holzen has been using Komatsu equipment since 1995 and he also owns a variety of Komatsu excavators—his most recent purchase is a PC360— and a wheel loader. “Komatsu excavators run and run. You can’t kill them,” he said. “Komatsu excavators are a super good investment, providing great value in their longevity.”
Holzen also likes the support he gets from Columbus Equipment Company. “Support from Columbus Equipment Company has been 150 percent. To this day, they are right at the end of the phone to talk us through something. If they can’t talk us through it, they come out to the site.”
“Parts support from the Dayton Branch is awesome. Patty Davidson (parts manager) has parts for us the next day at the latest, compared to other dealerships that take days just to call back with prices. In fact, I go through Patty for aftermarket parts for other brands as well,” Holzen said.
Holzen started his company in 1991, after working for his own customers evenings and weekends while working days for another contractor. Over the years, he has built his reputation by providing dependable, high-quality work and staying heavily involved in daily operations. “I really worked my tail off,” he said. He also gives credit for the company’s recent growth to his employees, including Vice President Justin Hershberger, as well as crew members in the trenches. “Out of all the local contractors, we have the best people.”
T.C. Holzen Inc. remains a family-owned company. Tim’s wife, Sharon, ran the office for years. Their son Tyler is an operator/pipe layer, and Tim’s father, Tim Holzen Sr., works part time as an operator.
When the Great Recession hit, “we darn near lost everything,” Holzen recalled, but he held on and ramped up by diversifying into dirt work and even roadwork (where his crews do everything but the asphalt, which he leaves to a subcontractor). He expects to grow another 50% over the next 5 to 7 years and hold the line there.
While Holzen frequently describes himself as “old school,” his willingness to try new markets and new technology shows that old school and state-of-the-art combine for great results.
Visit columbusequipment.com/news/videos for additional video coverage on T.C. Holzen’s iMC experience.