Polhemus Construction

FOUR-GENERATION FAMILY BUSINESS BUILDS REPUTATION ON CUSTOMER SATISFACTION

Oct 19, 2009

Komatsu equipment and KOMTRAX continue quality service

Building a good reputation means satisfied customers who are willing to spread your name around. That’s how Polhemus Construction has gone about building a client list that Co-owner/ President Charlie Polhemus II estimates to be somewhere between 400 and 500 clients.

It didn’t happen overnight. Charlie, who serves as President, and his uncle Edgar Polhemus II, who is Vice President, are thirdand fourth-generation family members to do excavation work in the Putnam County, N.Y., burg of Garrison, which is part of Philipstown. Polhemus Construction’s roots date back to Charlie’s great-grandfather Bruin Polhemus, who founded the business in 1929 on land that’s been in the Polhemus family for 10 generations.

“Bruin moved earth with a couple of horses and men, but that was only part of his story,” said Charlie. “He also did blasting, masonry work and was involved in a myriad of other things, almost too numerous to mention. Eventually all the services got whittled down to basic excavation work and related services, which is what we do today.”

Because Bruin was willing to take on just about any type of work, he built a great deal in the towns and countryside within about a 15-mile radius of Philipstown, and Polhemus Construction continues to work in that tight radius. The four-generation business hasn’t changed much in terms of size, staying around the 10-employee mark that Bruin had, except today about half of those are family members. Included among them is Charlie’s wife, Theresa, who’s Office Administrator and handles bookkeeping while Charlie and Edgar run field operations. Charlie’s nephew Edgar Polhemus III, is an operator and site foreman and is very active in carrying on the family tradition.

In addition to family members, Polhemus Construction boasts several longtime employees, including Truck Drivers Tommy Bouchard and Donny Dahlia and Operator Bill Polhemus, who shares a last name, but is not related to the family.

“Being a family business has played a big role in the company’s success,” Theresa said. “Our other employees have been around so long they’re like family too. Everyone’s working toward a common goal of offering quality jobs done right and on time. The area where we live and work is very close-knit, and everyone looks out for each other. We want to take care of them like they’re part of our family. Our name and reputation are on line, and we’ve always worked hard to not tarnish it.”

Long list of services

It helps that Polhemus Construction provides full-service excavation work that includes everything from site planning to final grading and landscaping for residential, industrial, commercial, institutional and governmental customers alike. Its services including blasting, site work, utility installation, land clearing, trucking, paving, pond cleaning and demolition among others.

“We believe that offering a long list of services is essential in this area,” said Charlie, who noted that the majority of Polhemus Construction’s work is done for repeat customers. “We’re in a rural setting, so specializing in a niche area isn’t feasible. It’s important to be able to do nearly anything that our customers need done. That’s how the business was built. We’re also willing to work as a general or subcontractor, and we offer winter maintenance with our snow plows, sanders and other heavy equipment.”

In addition to excavation work, Polhemus Construction has its own materials yard that carries nearly 40 products, such as gravel, sand, mulch, topsoil and hay. Customers can pick up any quantity they like.

Komatsu wheel loader, KOMTRAX make good combination

To maintain stockpiles and load trucks at the quarry, Polhemus Construction recently added a Komatsu WA250-6 wheel loader with the help of Edward Ehrbar Sales Rep Charlie Van Haaster.

“The WA250 fit the bill for us in several ways, especially its ease of operation because we have multiple people who run it,” said Charlie. “We wanted something they could hop in and quickly load. The hydrostatic transmission helps too, because it saves on braking. It’s smooth, quiet and doesn’t burn a lot of fuel. It basically stays in the material yard, but from time to time we take it to a jobsite or use it in snow removal. It’s a good, versatile machine.”

Wherever the WA250 is located, Charlie can check the hours, idle time and fuel usage with KOMTRAX. “I’ve come to rely on KOMTRAX quite a bit for maintenance tracking because it gives me a lot of information. No matter where I am, I can check such items as fuel level, so I know if it’s time to send the fuel truck to fill it up. It’s a great tool.”

Polhemus Construction handles service on the machine, with occasional help from Ehrbar as needed. “We’ve worked with Ehrbar for a long time, and they’ve always done well in getting to us quickly and having parts on hand when we need them. Like us, they’ve developed a good reputation over the years for quality service.”

Continued quality

The Polhemus family intends to keep that reputation for many years to come. “We’re working hard to keep the family legacy going,” said Charlie. “Times are different in terms of the size and scope of work we do and the equipment we use, but one thing remains: quality service. We’ll continue to offer that by keeping the business about the same size, so that we can continue to get our customers’ needs met on time and on budget.”