Quinn Construction


Sep 6, 2010

Reliable, versatile Komatsu equipment meets job demands

Bob Quinn doesn’t shy away from tough jobs. In fact, he built Quinn Construction on jobs that others were reluctant to tackle.

“The first job I did was a floating breakwater,” recalled Quinn of the project at Angostura Recreation Area and State Park near Hot Springs. “It involved connecting 8,000 tires with galvanized chain and floatation devices. We built 10,000-pound anchors, placed them in the water and hired divers to attach them to the bottom of the reservoir to hold the structure in place.

“I have to admit it was a messy job,” he added. “I hired a few guys to help me out. We had to go through about 40,000 tires to get the 8,000 that met specifications. It was worth it though. Now it’s a very enjoyable spot for fishing.”

Quinn Construction’s first project came not long after Quinn moved back to South Dakota in 1992 after nearly 15 years on the road working for other companies. He originally started the business in Sturgis, but moved operations to Rapid City after a couple years.

“My background was earthmoving for asphalt companies, so when I moved back, that was my original focus,” said Quinn, who is sole owner and president. “It didn’t quite work out the way I planned it. I had no equipment, so I wasn’t competitive when it came to bidding projects. I had to take on out-of-the-ordinary jobs to get work. Fortunately, I found some employees who were willing to tackle the work and travel some.”

“Not long after the Angostura job, I got another one on a reservation about 200 miles away doing some dirt work for roller compacted concrete dams,” he continued. “Things really started to build from there. I was able to put together a good core group of employees and we began to transition into more typical earthwork projects.”

Earthwork projects now make up the bulk of Quinn Construction’s work. The company handles all types of site work, including mass and fine grading, utility installation, subbase preparation and other related services as both a prime and subcontractor. Quinn estimates the company has five to ten projects on the books at any one time.

“We did dam and riprap work early on, and through the years we’ve done quite a large number of lagoon projects,” noted Quinn. “Our focus in the last 10 years has really been on state road work. We’re qualified to bid that as a prime, and we often do. We handle all the earthwork-related components and sub out the rest.”

Highly experienced staff

With about 30 employees split into a varying number of crews, Quinn Construction covers western South Dakota and the northeast corner of Wyoming. In addition to general earthwork, the company also does demolition projects.

“My guys are versatile, and that’s important because no two jobs are ever exactly the same,” Quinn pointed out. “We do quite a lot of road work and some demolition, but we also do work for developers. Several of my guys have been with Quinn Construction a decade or more, and many of them have 30 years or more of experience. It doesn’t matter what kind of job we do, I’m confident they’ll be able to get it done.”

Quinn is quick to point out it’s not just the employees in the field who make Quinn Construction a success. “My office staff, Diane DuBray, Salinda Torres and Vice President Derek Suhr, are all excellent at their positions. Being successful in the field means having equipment that’s well maintained and Terry Lusk (Maintenance Supervisor) does a terrific job with that.”

Komatsu fits Quinn’s equipment focuspjp

Quinn noted that for the most part, Quinn Construction only has to do routine maintenance on its equipment fleet. The company has an aggressive service policy that it strictly adheres to, often performing maintenance before the hour meter says it’s time for oil and filter changes.

“I’ve always believed that proper maintenance is vital, because it ensures that the equipment performs to its maximum capabilities, even with a high number of hours,” said Quinn. “The other factor that I’m adamant about is buying quality equipment to start with, and that’s why over the years we’ve purchased and stayed with Komatsu. I used Komatsu machinery when I worked for someone else and saw first-hand how well it performs. When I started acquiring equipment, Komatsu was at the top of my list.”

Heading up Quinn Construction’s Komatsu fleet are five PC200LC excavators. “I like the versatility they offer,” Quinn remarked. “They’re equipped with quick couplers, so we can use a wide variety of attachments. They have excellent power, not only for digging mass quantities of dirt, but for running a thumb, a processor or hammer during demolition. What really sets them apart in my mind is that they have that power, but they’re small and light enough to easily transport.”

In addition to PC200s, Quinn Construction also runs a PC220LC excavator and two WA500-1 wheel loaders. “The PC220 gives us the same flexibility as the 200s,” Quinn noted. “The wheel loaders have been outstanding. We used to do some crushing, and we originally bought them for feeding the crushers. Now they’re general-purpose machines. Both have about 16,000 hours on them and are still as productive as they were when we purchased them.”

Quinn Construction purchased all its Komatsu equipment from DMI’s Rapid City location. Bob Quinn currently works with Branch Manager Mark Barry to meet his equipment needs.

“Mark and DMI have always been terrific to work with,” said Quinn. “Fortunately, because of the quality of our Komatsu equipment, we haven’t had any major issues. All I ask of a dealer is that they respond quickly when we do need something. Mark and DMI have always been good about that.”

More unusual work

Quinn pointed out that with a transition to more traditional earthmoving work, Quinn Construction doesn’t do as many specialty, out-of-the-ordinary type of jobs as when he started. That doesn’t mean he’s not willing to take them on.

“If it’s a job that I believe we can get done on time and budget, I’ll always consider it,” Quinn said. “We recently completed work on a 3-million-gallon reservoir for the city of Rapid City that involved installation of 24-inch ductile iron pipe and a lot of complicated valve piping. We moved about 20,000 yards of dirt.”

Quinn Construction also completed a large demolition project at Ellsworth Air Force Base that involved multiple locations on site. Some of the work was done through the government’s economic stimulus plan.

“The stimulus has actually helped give the state a good shot in the arm, and we’ve picked up a share of that work. Fortunately, this area hasn’t been as hard hit as some places around the country, so we’ve remained fairly steady,” said Quinn. “I think that’s going to be the case in the near term, and as the entire economy comes back, we’ll see an increase in work.”

“Whether that leads to growth for us, I’m not sure,” he added. “We’ve built up to a size I like, because it’s manageable and we can give our customers quality service. I certainly want that to continue being the case.”