Weisz & Sons Inc.

BISMARCK FAMILY BUSINESS GROWS TO MEET BOOMING DEMAND IN WESTERN NORTH DAKOTA

Jun 7, 2013

Dependable Komatsu equipment

Few places in the country are experiencing construction activity as robust as North Dakota. A booming oil industry, especially in the western half of the state, has created needs for new infrastructure, along with commercial, industrial and residential expansion to support not only the industry, but the people involved.

Taking advantage of that construction boom with more than 35 years of experience is Bismarck-based Weisz & Sons. The family-owned earthwork contractor can handle nearly any of those projects, as well as others unrelated to the oil boom, such as flood-control measures, road work and demolition.

“The ability to work in several markets has helped ensure our success,” said President Don Weisz. “If one segment is down, we can work in another, and vice versa. Fortunately, with the oil boom, and the state taking a very proactive approach to infrastructure and highway work, every market segment has been strong during the past several years.”

That’s fueled considerable growth for Weisz & Sons. In the past five years, it’s gone from a staff of about 30 people to nearly 80 during peak construction season. Don’s brothers Dave and Dwight are Vice Presidents, and his brother Dan is Equipment/Maintenance Manager. Their dad, Bernie, is CEO of the company, which he founded in 1977. Ryan Holen, who joined the company about seven years ago, is Secretary/Treasurer and also handles project management.

“One of the reasons we’ve been successful through the years is that we’re not afraid to get our hands dirty,” said Dave. “Our dad instilled in us a good work ethic, and we demonstrate that with our employees by being hands-on owners and working out in the field right alongside our crews. Not that we don’t trust our guys to get the job done, because we have an excellent staff that’s second-to-none. We would just rather be out where the action is, and our customers seem to really appreciate that too.”

Weisz & Sons’ customers are as diverse as its offerings. As it has been from the beginning, Weisz & Sons’ main focus is excavation and underground projects within about a 100-mile radius of Bismarck. Typically, the company has six or seven projects going at any one time.

Project sizes vary greatly

Recent projects include work on construction of a new 15-acre substation at Garrison Dam, located about 60 miles north of Bismarck, along the Missouri River. Throughout the course of two years, Weisz & Sons will install about 3,000 feet of storm sewer and reroute about 2,000 feet of water line. Plans call for importing 75,000 cubic yards of fill to construct the building pad, as well as another 20,000 yards of granular material on top of the pad.

Further downstream in the city of Bismarck itself, Weisz & Sons has completed several projects related to last year’s flooding of the Missouri River. One involved rebuilding about 700 feet of shoreline that had been scoured. The company reshaped the dirt embankment before placing about 2,000 tons of riprap.

Another involved installing a flood-control structure and raising the grade along Tavis Road. The project called for installation of approximately 200 feet of 24-inch reinforced concrete pipe and about 60 yards of concrete.

“The Tavis Road project wasn’t that big in terms of material volume, but it was tricky,” said Holen. “Because the flood-control structure is part of the river, we had to construct coffer dams and pump the water out in order to get the work done. It also had to be tested for leaks once it was built. Fortunately, we have completed quite a number of these types of projects, so it wasn’t anything we weren’t able to handle.”

An authorized Redi-Rock dealer

During the past several years, Weisz & Sons expanded its services by becoming an authorized dealer of Redi-Rock retaining-wall systems. The company casts the blocks at its yard, installing them as part of its projects and also selling them to outside customers. Dave’s son, Shay, oversees the Redi-Rock business of Weisz & Sons.

Redi-Rock,” said Dave. “We’ve installed several retaining walls, either as a stand-alone job or as part of a larger project. Being diversified has always been a key component of our business philosophy, and Redi-Rock plays right into that.”

“Dollarwise, our projects range in size from a few hundred dollars to between $2 million and $3 million,” said Don. “We have the capabilities to self-perform a great deal of work, so depending on the scope of a project, we’ll either be a general contractor or a sub.” “That part of the business has taken off considerably since we started offering

Komatsu, General prove dependable

With project sizes varying greatly, Weisz & Sons has built a fleet of equipment to match its needs. Its main production machines are Komatsu excavators, ranging from a compact, tight-tail-swing PC88 to a 90,000-plus-pound PC400. It also recently purchased a Tier 4 Interim PC360LC-10.

“What we appreciate most about Komatsu is its dependability,” said Dave. “We work them hard during the season, which generally runs from March to mid-December, and we’ve never had a major issue. We bought our first Komatsu excavator, a PC300, based on its reputation for reliability. They’re also very productive and fuel-efficient, so we believe we’re getting the best bang for our buck with Komatsu.”

In addition to excavators, Weisz & Sons owns two Komatsu WA320-6 wheel loaders. “Several features make them stand out, including good stability and comfort compared to some older competitive models we have,” listed Dave. “One great feature is the hydrostatic transmission because it reduces the need for braking, so those components last longer and reduce our costs. The operators love them.”

For sales, rentals, service support and parts, the Weiszs turn to General Equipment & Supplies’ Bismarck branch. “We’ve developed a strong relationship with General,” confirmed Don. “Dealer support is a critical factor in our equipment decisions, and General has always served us well. Our Sales Rep Aaron Brothen is great about meeting our equipment needs, and Alex Klein in the shop bends over backward to help us.”

Own subdivision

Although the residential market has made up only a small part of Weisz & Sons’ work, it’s an area in which the family is currently taking a strong interest. They’re teaming up with some other investors to build a new 180-lot subdivision known as Seven Winds, located along Highway 1806, just north of Mandan.

“All the markets are going strong right now, and we’re seeing a great need for residential construction,” said Dave. “We were fortunate to be able to find the land and make an investment in that area. We’ll handle the site work ourselves, including installing utilities and grading the lots.”

The Weiszs point out that work on Seven Winds won’t take them away from other market segments that continue to be strong. “We’ve already grown quite considerably in a relatively short amount of time because the market really dictated that,” said Dave. “We believe we’re at the point where we can still take care of our customers by meeting their schedules and budgets. If we grow any more, we risk jeopardizing that, and we’re not willing to do that.”