Customers in Action

A.S. Fornea Construction


February 18, 2015

“Komatsu provides the fuel efficiency on every piece we own”

A.S. Fornea Construction

Very few college students can claim that they saved money while going to school. It’s likely that fewer invested it in starting their own businesses. Andy Fornea did both.

“I always knew I wanted to be in business for myself,” said Fornea, who founded Oxford, Miss.,-based A.S. Fornea about 10 years ago, after graduating from the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) with a business degree. “I took the money I had saved and bought four lots in a residential subdivision, then used some contacts I had with an investment company to pitch the idea of renting them out. I showed the investors the return on investment I thought they could get and sold them. The next step was to build the houses.”

To do that, Fornea hired out everything from dirt work to the framing and final construction. Now, 10 years later, A.S. Fornea still subs out the building construction, but his own crews do the rest.

“It wasn’t long before a small subdivision came up for bid, and I bid on the whole thing and got it,” said Fornea. “The business started snowballing from there. Eventually, I bought my own dirt equipment, and we were off and running hard. We still offer complete turnkey packages, but now A.S. Fornea does the dirt work and subs out the paving and building construction. I’ve found that’s the best fit for us.”

Public, private

A.S. Fornea Construction

A.S. Fornea’s civil division handles all excavation work with three dirt crews. It provides complete site packages that include staking; clearing and grubbing; mass excavation; fine grading; retaining-wall construction; and utility installation. The company also has commercial and residential divisions.

“The commercial and residential divisions are basically building divisions,” explained Fornea. “The commercial division works with developers to turn their designs or ideas into completed, turnkey projects. For the most part, the residential division handles construction of houses, subdivisions and apartment complexes on properties that I own and develop under another company called Fornea Construction Group. Either way, nearly everything we do is private, with the exception of public-works projects for the university. We have completed several large civil projects on the Ole Miss campus throughout the years.”

Recently A.S. Fornea constructed a new road and parking lot near the university’s football stadium. Additional work included installing utilities and building retaining walls, as well as demolition of an old wastewater treatment plant.

The company also finished a 60-acre student-housing complex. A.S. Fornea imported more than 100,000 yards of dirt, in addition to moving about 45,000 yards of dirt on site. It installed retaining walls and put in utilities as deep as 34 feet.

Current work for A.S. Fornea in the Oxford area includes multiple subdivisions and an office park, which are scheduled to start in the spring of 2015. Outside of the Oxford market, A.S. Fornea is preparing to develop a condominium tower in Orange Beach, Ala.

Additionally, A.S. Fornea recently completed Tanglewood, a 26-unit condominium complex, as well as 607 South, another 12-condo and commercial development.

“Our territory consists of about a 30-mile radius of Oxford, but honestly, we rarely go outside of town,” said Fornea. “We have quite a bit to keep us busy right here, and from the residential aspect, we basically create our own projects, so we don’t have to travel. I like that, and the staff does too.”

Staff delivers success

A.S. Fornea Construction

Fornea’s staff now consists of about 30 people who he says are a big reason for the company’s success.

“We have a lot of experience on staff, which is great, but more importantly, they’re dedicated, hard-working and enjoy what they do,” he said. “That ensures we get jobs done on time and on budget. The company certainly wouldn’t be where it is today without them. They deserve a world of credit.”

Komatsu, Power are perfect fits

To move dirt, A.S. Fornea’s civil division uses Komatsu equipment, including a PC210LC-10 excavator and D39PX-23 and D51PX-22 dozers. Fornea worked with Power Equipment Territory Manager Chad Roberts on the purchases.

“Two items stand out to me when buying equipment. One is fuel efficiency, and the other is service after the sale,” said Fornea. “Komatsu provides the fuel efficiency on every piece we own, as well as reliability, productivity and stability. The PC210 is great for clearing and grubbing and putting in utilities, including handling fairly large manholes.

“The dozers are perfect for the size of jobs we generally work on,” he added “The operators really like the visibility. The slant-nose allows them to see the blade and the material better than with other dozers. They’re also well-balanced.”

Fornea tracks the Komatsu machinery with KOMTRAX, using the app on his mobile phone as he travels between jobsites. “It’s a great tool that allows me to see fuel usage and if someone is idling excessively. I also like that Komatsu tracks the machinery and alerts me to error codes. Additionally, Power Equipment has eyes on the machines, so they know when they’re due for service under the Komatsu CARE program. I’m a big believer in technology, such as GPS grading and telematics, and Komatsu is far-and-away the most technologically advanced equipment company out there, as far as I’m concerned. I really appreciate everything that Power and Chad do for us as well. They treat us fairly, honestly and quickly when we need something.”

Reevaluating for the future

A.S. Fornea Construction

A.S. Fornea continues to grow. Each year the company has expanded anywhere from 25 to 75 percent, according to Fornea. That led him to build a new headquarters, which the business recently moved into.

“We have plans for further growth, but probably not at the pace we have been growing,” said Fornea. “I want to reevaluate where we are and make sure we don’t jeopardize our ability to take care of the customer or ourselves. That’s the most important thing we do.”

While he’s taking a new look at where the company is going in terms of growth, he’s not changing his view on what the company does.

“I think we found our niche, and we’ve done well with it, so I’m not really looking to expand into other markets or areas. This is what we do; we’re good at it; and it’s helped us to become a successful, stable company with a good reputation. It’s what I was hoping the business would eventually become when I started.”