Cecil Perry Improvements


Jan 31, 2012

Productive Komatsu machines and dealer support

Like all companies, construction firms must evolve over time in order to remain relevant and successful. Those that aren’t willing to adapt to new technology, improved techniques and changing markets will not be able to stay in business, let alone be a leader.

For Lafayette, La.-based Cecil Perry Improvements (CPI), change has been a constant. When Cecil Perry started the company in 1977, he was a “one-man-band,” doing small earthwork jobs. Over time, by adding key people and new services, he built the business into one of the leading site-development contracting firms in the Lafayette area.

In 2010, Cecil sold CPI to three longtime employees — Josh Cain, Scott Broussard and Robbin Dufour — who have continued to add new services in order to move the company forward. Today, Cecil Perry Improvements (Cecil is still involved as an estimator and advisor) offers clients a full range of construction services, most of which it self-performs.

“During the past few years, we’ve switched our work load from about 75 to 80 percent private to where it’s now about 75 to 80 percent public,” said President Josh Cain. “A large percentage of our work is now concrete paving, including roads and highways. Even on the private side, we’ve changed focus. We’ve gone from doing mostly small site-work jobs to performing large industrial-type site work, and we’ve added a sewer and water component. All the changes we’ve made are to better enable us to provide the services our customers want.”

While Cecil Perry Improvements has certainly grown and substantially added to its list of services, the attitude of owners and employees remains the same as it’s always been.

“From the time Cecil started the business, right up to today, our calling card is customer satisfaction,” said Cain. “Quality work done fast and done right the first time. As a result, we’ve built excellent relationships with customers throughout our territory, as well as with large general contractors who come to southern Louisiana and need a sub they can count on.”

People are key

Today, CPI employs about 100 people.

“We have good employees throughout our organization,” acknowledged Broussard. “From supervisors to operators to laborers, we believe we have some of the best people in the region and their talent and dedication are a big reason why we’re able to do what we do.”

As for management, Cain oversees the office, administrative and financial duties at Cecil Perry Improvements. Broussard is in charge of field activities and equipment. Robbin Dufour is the chief estimator. The owners also rely heavily on Brent Dufour as the company’s concrete superintendent.

“We brought Brent on a few years ago and he’s really helped us grow the concrete side of the business,” noted Cain. “We pave city streets, highways, airport taxiways, parking lots — you name it. Concrete has become a major part of our business.”

Big jobs

While the economic slowdown took its toll on Cecil Perry Improvements in 2009 and 2010, the company has come back strong this year.

“During the past eight years, we’ve experienced a great deal of growth,” said Cain. “When I came on board in 2003, we were at about $1.7 million. We essentially doubled that in 2004 and doubled again in 2005. In 2008, we hit $12 million. We lagged a bit the last couple of years, but this year, we’ve landed some large jobs and are on pace to top out at about $15 million — a record high.”

Big jobs in recent years include a $5 million plant expansion for polyvinyl chloride (PVC) producer Shintech in Addis, where CPI did the site work and paving for a 180,000-square-foot warehouse. Recently, the company completed about $2 million worth of site work for a new Halliburton facility in Lafayette that included relocating a canal and 11 other site-related activities.

“We’re also doing a substantial number of road jobs this year,” said Cain. “One of them, the realignment of Highway 92 in Youngsville, is particularly significant because we were able to convince the city to switch from an asphalt spec to a concrete spec. We re-engineered the project and showed them how they would save considerable money both on the front end and throughout the life of the highway by switching to concrete.”

In turn, Youngsville’s experience with Cecil Perry Improvements on the realignment of Highway 92 led to the largest project in CPI’s history, the Chemin Metairie Parkway in Youngsville.

“Because of our work on Highway 92, Youngsville allowed both concrete and asphalt bids for the Parkway job,” said Cain. “We were the low concrete bid and were selected to do the work. It’s a $9 million job to build three miles of roadway through virgin land. It consists of moving a couple hundred thousand yards of dirt and placing 30,000 yards of concrete. We started it this fall.”

Productive machines and H&E support

To help them do big jobs, Cecil Perry Improvements has turned largely to Komatsu equipment from H&E Equipment Services in Lafayette. The company has nine Komatsu excavators ranging from a PC35 up to a PC270, four dozers from a D31 to a D61, a WA200 wheel loader and a GD650 motor grader.

“We started switching to Komatsu machines about 10 years ago,” recalled Broussard. “The first Komatsu we got was a D41 dozer, which was such a good machine it sold us on the product and we’ve been mostly Komatsu ever since.”

“Obviously we like the Komatsu excavators,” confirmed Cain. “We have thumb attachments on all of them because it makes them more productive for the clearing and demo work we do. We love the D51 dozer and we have a state-of-the-art laser system on it that makes us much more efficient.”

“In addition to the units we own, we frequently rent machines and appreciate the excellent H&E rental fleet,” said Broussard. “It has high-quality, late-model equipment and a good rental inventory.”

“Occasionally when we rent, we compare other brands head-to-head against a Komatsu,” continued Cain. “We’ve found that Komatsu routinely outperforms the competition. When we ask our operators for their preference, they choose Komatsu virtually every time.

“I also appreciate our relationship with H&E,” he added. “Our salesman, Brent Broussard, and Lafayette Branch Manager David Downs take really good care of us. It’s not that we’ve never had an issue — that’s part of owning equipment — what’s important is how the issue is handled. H&E steps up to the plate for us. We like to have strategic partners in all aspects of our business and we certainly consider H&E to be a strategic partner of ours.”

In growth mode

When they bought CPI, all three owners believed they would be able to grow the company.

“The year we bought Cecil Perry Improvements, 2010, was probably about the worst time ever to buy a business,” admitted Cain. “But Cecil had been planning to turn it over to us for a number of years and he’s a very generous man. The main thing he wanted was to see his company live on, so we were able to work out a deal that was fair to everybody.

“As for the three of us, we’re enthusiastic about what we can do and making a name for ourselves,” he added. “Growth was always our plan and a common goal, and because we’re not set on any one thing, we’ve been able to keep an open mind to all possibilities.”

So far, they’re doing just that. They’ve added sewer and water capabilities and a mulching service that gets them into debris removal and landfill-type work. They’ve also increased their concrete-paving expertise to the point where they can now compete with the industry’s major players. Down the road, Cain says the company will likely have concrete batch plants and may add bridge work and pilings to its list of services.

“The main thing is, no matter what we get into, we’re going to do it the same as we do everything else. It will be about engineering the project for maximum cost-efficiency, doing topnotch work in a timely manner, and working closely with the owner throughout the job to ensure customer satisfaction. As long as we continue to do the things that keep our customers happy, we’re optimistic about what the future holds for Cecil Perry Improvements.”