Mickelo Construction

THIS SEATTLE-AREA, SITE-DEVELOPMENT CONTRACTOR SPECIALIZES IN CUSTOMER SATISFACTION

Nov 1, 2012

“The Komatsu equipment stands up to the challenge”

Monroe, Wash.-based Mickelo Construction is a family-owned company with about a dozen employees. Although it’s not large by earthmoving company standards, Mickelo does a number of good-size jobs in the Seattle area and has an excellent reputation for quality work and completing jobs on time and on budget.

“We probably could be larger if that was our goal,” said Mickelo Founder and President Mike Edelbrock. “We sometimes turn down work because I refuse to take on more than we can handle. We have regular customers who keep us busy, and they use us because we always give them a good price and a good job. They also know we’re going to finish on time or early. We’re able to do that because our employees share our work ethic, which enables us to do more with less. The problem with getting bigger is it’s hard to find enough of those kind of employees.”

Mickelo Construction’s specialty, at least in the current market, is excavation and utilities site work for large mixed-use building projects in and near downtown Seattle.

“We like to take a job from start to finish and handle all aspects of it ourselves,” said Boyd Edelbrock, Mike’s son, who is a Mickelo Superintendent. “We perform demolition and excavation, dig foundations and footings, install all the utilities and handle prep for sidewalks and streets. We’re full-service when it comes to earthwork and we self-perform everything, so we’re fully responsible for quality and timeliness.”

Getting done early is something that general contractors, developers and project owners value because the sooner they can get tenants in, the sooner they can start making money.

“Our attitude is, whatever it takes to get the job done on time — night work, weekends — that’s what we’re going to do,” said Mike. “Our ability to do a good job and get it done in short order is why we have loyal customers. We’re also now getting calls from larger GCs who’ve seen our work and have taken notice of how quickly we complete our jobs.”

Hands-on owners

Mike and Boyd are hands-on owners. They bid and run their own jobs, often from the seat of a machine. They rely on Mike’s wife, Lois, to take care of the books and other office duties. They also count heavily on employees Vance Davison and Travis Johnson.

“Vance takes care of our pipe lining, which is rehabbing old sewer lines, and he runs some jobs for us,” said Mike. “Travis is our pipe layer. They’ve both been with us awhile and do a great job. We couldn’t ask for better guys.”

Mike’s two other sons, Kyle and Wade Edelbrock, also started with Mickelo Construction. They both have since gone on to run their own businesses. Wade and his wife, Courtney, have an excavation company, WAECO, that largely handles telecom work, as well as site prep. Kyle runs Kole Enterprises, a trucking firm. Both are on their own but continue to have ties with the parent firm. Kole typically handles Mickelo’s trucking needs and WAECO often takes “overflow” jobs from Mickelo.

“We do the same kind of things they do,” Wade explained. “We’re two separate companies, but obviously, we’re family so we work closely together and help each other out.”

Komatsu and Modern — a winning combination

Both Mickelo Construction and WAECO use Komatsu excavators almost exclusively.

“We originally bought the tight-tail-swing PC308 because we were frequently working in close quarters in the city,” Mike recalled. “We fell in love with that machine. Now, we also have two PC228s, a PC138 and a PC400LC-8 (WAECO owns a PC88 and is renting a PC228 with a purchase option). They all run great and we hardly ever have to put any money into them. When we’ve been in the market for a new machine, we’ve looked at other brands, but Komatsu always comes out on top.”

“Strength, speed, hydraulics, fuel consumption — those are all areas where we believe Komatsu outperforms the competition,” said Boyd Edelbrock. “We’ve also found them to be durable and reliable. Another big plus is the support we get from Modern Machinery.”

“Modern has been an excellent partner for Mickelo Construction,” confirmed Mike. “We’ve had other machines in the past and nobody stands behind their product like Komatsu and Modern. Parts and service support is always there when we need it and our Modern Salesman Marc Bandy is extraordinarily helpful.”

“We appreciate the opportunity Mike and everybody at Mickelo and WAECO have given us to show what we can do,” said Modern President Brian Sheridan. “We look forward to a long, mutually beneficial relationship.”

Comfortable in niche

Mickelo Construction has found its niche in the Seattle market and Mike Edelbrock says he’s very happy with it.

“My enjoyment of this business comes from being out on the job, but I also want to know what’s going on at all of our jobs. That would be difficult to do if we were bigger. I also fear that the quality of service we’re known for might suffer. Our relationship with loyal customers has been the key to our success, so my goal is to do everything possible to maintain those relationships and that loyalty in the years to come.”