Welch Trucking & Dirtwork

LEESVILLE, LA., FIRM AND SISTER COMPANY, WOODLAND LAND DEVELOPMENT, SPECIALIZE IN SUBDIVISIONS

Jan 22, 2013

Komatsu equipment and H&E support

From track hoe and dozer work, to land clearing, dirt hauling and demolition, there’s not much that Welch Trucking & Dirtwork can’t or won’t do from its home base in Leesville in west-central Louisiana. But for the past decade or so, Charles Welch has been doing something few other contractors in the nation have been doing — building subdivisions.

“My wife, Glenda, and I started Welch Trucking & Dirtwork in 1979 with a lot of help and good advice from my father, Ted Welch, who was in the trucking business,” recalled Owner Charles Welch. “We started out with one dump truck and a front-end loader, and did mostly trucking in the beginning. Through the years, we got into house pads and commercial dirt work. In 2002, we started a related business, Woodland Land Development, and that’s when we began building subdivisions. Today, that’s about 50 percent of our business.

“We’re fortunate to live in a town with a U.S. Army base,” explained Welch. “A significant portion of the military personnel at Fort Polk has families, and many of them choose to live off-base. We’re honored to have been helping with their housing needs for so many years.

“Equally important is the way Woodland Land Development and Welch Trucking enable us to be on all sides of the subdivision equation,” he added. “Woodland acquires the land, Welch clears the lots and does the earthwork, then Woodland builds houses and sells them. We’re self-contained in a way that allows us to more or less create our own work.”

Using that formula, Welch Trucking and Dirtwork has built seven subdivisions and about 100 homes in the past 10 years in Leesville and surrounding communities.

While developing its own subdivisions is a mainstay, Welch Trucking also clears land, builds house pads and does dirt work for other builders. In addition, the company sells and delivers dirt to customers throughout the region, and continues to bid and perform commercial and governmental site work as well.

“We’ve worked hard to make a go of this, but we give all glory to God. As it says in Phillippeans 4:13, ‘I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me,’ ” quoted Charles. “We’re blessed to have had the success we’ve experienced with the businesses.”

“My Three Sons”

Charles’ three sons, Jon, Dustin and Shane, are employees at Welch Trucking and Woodland Land Development. “Dustin primarily runs the dirt-work side while Jon and Shane take care of Woodland,” said Charles. “And we appreciate the support of their wives, Charlotte, Miranda and Jerika.”

“We’re a family business and we all pitch in to do whatever needs to be done on a given day,” said Dustin. “Everybody can run equipment, so if we need help in the field, Jon and Shane jump on a machine and go to work. We also have some workers we can call to come in when we need additional help. We have had many great employees along the way.”

Welch and Woodland use subcontractors for much of the homebuilding associated with their subdivisions, so it’s not unusual for them to have as many as 40 people out working on any given day.

Pride in work

In most of its subdivision work, Welch Trucking clears the property, builds the roads, grades the individual lots and installs all the water and sewer lines.

“We take great pride in all our projects, but it’s probably most evident in our subdivision work,” said Charles. “People in town know our subdivisions, so our name is on the line. Therefore, we want to make sure our subdivisions are as family-friendly as possible. We take great satisfaction knowing that our customers are proud of their new homes.”

Charles says there’s plenty of competition for earthmoving jobs in the region, but believes that with the company’s experience, they can handle the jobs.

“I’ve personally been doing this for 32 years, and it’s basically all my sons have ever done. I won’t say we’ve seen it all, but we’ve certainly seen a lot and I’m very comfortable in our ability to tackle anything that might come up on a job. Because we’ve been in business so long, almost everybody around here knows us, and I think we’ve got a good reputation for doing quality work, getting done on time and always being fair and honest in our dealings with customers.”

Komatsu equipment and H&E support

To do its earthwork, Welch Trucking turns to Komatsu machines from H&E Equipment Services in Alexandria. The company has two Komatsu hydraulic excavators (PC200LC-8 and PC130LC-7) and two Komatsu dozers (D51 and D39).

“We’ve been doing business with H&E and Komatsu for about 20 years,” said Charles. “The price is always fair so we really don’t even shop around much. We like to run good equipment and we know from past experience that Komatsu is good. Our main emphasis is reliability. We want equipment that works rather than requires work, so we keep a fairly new fleet, and with Komatsu, we know we’re going to get good uptime.”

“We bought the PC200LC-8 not long ago and really like it,” said Dustin. “We had another PC200 for almost a decade before buying the Dash-8 and I can’t think of anything major that ever went wrong with it. Komatsu excavators are basically bulletproof. Same with the D51. It’s a great all-around dozer. Excellent visibility to the blade, plenty of power and a smooth ride.”

“Another great thing about the D51 is the undercarriage,” added Charles. “It’s got what Komatsu calls ‘PLUS undercarriage’ and it’s phenomenal. We’ve got about 1,500 hours on the tracks now and there’s absolutely no wear — it’s amazing. I can’t imagine it’s good for replacement undercarriage sales, but it’s great for us.”

Both Charles and Dustin also credit H&E for supporting their Komatsu machines very well.

“We never have a problem reaching our H&E Salesman Mark Dryden or PSSR Mike DeVille when we need something, and they see to it that we get whatever we need,” reported Dustin. “We’re very pleased with our Komatsu machines, but they are machines and sometimes stuff goes wrong. Once, both our dozers were down at the same time and we were in a bind, so H&E stepped up and brought out a loaner to get us through. That’s the way they take care of us.”

“We can call anybody at H&E and get help,” agreed Charles. “Alexandria Branch Manager C.J. Nichols was my first salesman and he’s still a resource for us. And if we have a service question, Service Manager Greg Smith is often able to give us an answer over the phone that gets us back up and running, while saving us time and money. Those are the kinds of things H&E does for us and why we value the relationship.”

More growth ahead

Looking down the road, Charles says he sees more of the same for Welch Trucking & Dirtwork.

“At some point, we plan to grow because we have a third generation in the family. I have three grandsons, and a fourth on the way, who I hope will someday want to become contractors, equipment operators, truck drivers or be otherwise involved in the family business.

“But in the meantime, we’ll continue to expand as necessary. We truly feel blessed to be in the position we’re in. We all appreciate it and intend to keep working hard and doing our best to give customers a top product at a reasonable price.”