Customers in Action

Cossentino Contracting

BALTIMORE UTILITY CONTRACTOR HEEDS THE CALL TO START HIS OWN BUSINESS, BUILDS DECADES OF SUCCESS

December 07, 2015

Powerful versatile Komatsu equipment

The calls for Jack Cossentino to start his own company just kept coming. The Founder of Cossentino Contracting worked for another company and had no plans to go into business for himself, but as the chorus grew louder, he began to listen.

“People kept urging me do it, and I eventually decided to act,” said Cossentino, who started Cossentino Contracting in 1968. Today, he’s semiretired but remains active in the business. “For the most part, it was me and a backhoe at the beginning. Fortunately, I had a pool of customers from those people who wanted me to start my own business, and eventually, the jobs got bigger and better. It didn’t take long before I was able to expand.”

Cossentino Contracting specializes in open-cut underground utilities installation, stormwater management and complete site work packages. During the winter, it provides snow removal, and one of its largest clients is the Baltimore- Washington International Airport.

“The majority of our work involves installing and replacing utilities for Baltimore County and the surrounding municipalities,” said Jack’s stepson Kris Davis, who grew up in the business, is Executive Vice President and oversees day-today coordination of field crews, as well as many other duties. “We also install new utility lines for commercial and residential developments and provide stormwater-management solutions. Public works projects currently make up about 75 percent of our business, but that varies depending on the different markets.”

Employees key to success

Cossentino usually bids as a general contractor that takes control of an entire project’s schedule. It takes care of the utility installation and subs out related work, such as clearing, excavation, paving, boring, tunneling, HDD and concrete.

Cossentino Contracting employs about 50 people. Many have been on staff for several years, including Vice President Tony Azzaro and Foreman Warren Neal, who have both been with the company for almost 45 years. Additional key individuals and longtime employees include Estimator Wade Jenkins and Foremen Bobby Pyles, Pat Finnegan, Dwayne Staub and Mike Wells.

“Our employees have always been the key ingredient in Cossentino Contracting’s success,” said Cossentino. “They’re knowledgeable, experienced and hard-working, which are invaluable attributes that allow us to complete even the most challenging projects on time and on budget. We’ve grown a lot in the past 10 to 15 years, and Kris and the staff are a huge part of that expansion.”

Recent work includes public and private projects

Cossentino Contracting generally has five or six jobs going at once. Recently, the company completed several public works projects for Anne Arundel and Howard counties, as well as Baltimore County, which included replacing water-main lines. Cossentino crews also installed water, sewer and storm lines for a new high school in Severna Park, and in the same city, it completed underground work for Kaplan’s Purchase, a new 34-lot subdivision.

In Annapolis, Cossentino Contracting installed utilities at the new Annapolis Commons Business Park. It also constructed bioretention ponds, which are filtering systems with landscaping, perforated pipe and layers of soil, aggregate and other materials that minimize runoff and eliminate the need for traditional retention ponds that take up valuable real estate.

Komatsu outperforms the competition

Cossentino Contracting uses numerous Komatsu excavators and wheel loaders, including tight-tail-swing models ranging from a 4,000-pound PC18 to a 70,000-poundplus PC308. It recently added two Tier 4 Interim PC138USLC-10s, a PC360LC-10 and two WA320 wheel loaders.

“We began using Komatsu excavators about 30 years ago,” Cossentino said. “I was strictly using a competitive brand, but one of its machines struggled to lift a heavy box we were setting. I told the Midlantic salesman at the time to bring me a PC300, and if it would do the job, I’d buy it. I ended up buying two, and all our excavator purchases since have been Komatsu. They simply outperform the competition.”

“We do a lot of street work, and the tighttail- swing models are excellent for that application,” added Davis. “They have good power and allow us to work in a single lane of traffic without the worry of a counterweight encroaching into another lane. We prefer rubber tracks, because they don’t tear up the roadway.”

Cossentino Contracting’s fleet also includes Komatsu wheel loaders. It has six 125-horsepower WA320s.

“It’s an ideal size for the work we do, and they give us versatility to load, dump rock in a trench and move materials with either forks or buckets,” said Davis. “We can carry heavy trench boxes, steel plates and large structures and pipe while having excellent maneuverability around the jobsite.”

Cossentino Contracting works with Midlantic Machinery Sales Representative Eric Everett and Territory Sales Manager Eric Marburger on sales and rentals, often using Komatsu Finance with zero-percent interest rates for new purchases.

“You can’t beat that rate, and we believe it’s part of Komatsu’s total commitment to lowering our owning and operating costs,” said Davis. “Another reason we prefer Komatsu is because of the Komatsu CARE program for the Tier 4 machines. The fact that Midlantic covers the scheduled maintenance complimentary for the first three years or 2,000 hours is an exceptional value. Midlantic tracks the machines and calls us when a service is due, then performs the service on-site at a convenient time.”

Midlantic tracks the machines with KOMTRAX, which Davis also uses as part of his fleet management. “KOMTRAX is a great tool that allows us to see our fuel usage, hours and idle time. It helps reduce our operating and maintenance costs.”

Cossentino still has some of its oldest Komatsu machines. Davis said reliability and production are reasons why the company continues to use them. “Several have more than 17,000 hours and are as productive as ever. We’ve never had a major issue, and that says a lot about the quality of Komatsu equipment and why we’ve continue to use it.

“Another reason we chose Komatsu is because of the service we get from Midlantic,” he added. “We’ve developed a strong relationship throughout the years because they always respond quickly to any need we have, whether it’s sales, rentals, parts or service.”

No change in focus

Davis said that it’s unlikely Cossentino Contracting will ever change its focus. “We have our niche, and because we focus on doing one thing well, we’re very good at it. At one time, we tried to do all aspects of site development, such as grading, paving and concrete, but it just didn’t work out the way we wanted. By turning our attention solely to utilities, we became more effective and efficient.”

Cossentino Contracting continues to finetune its operations, according to Davis.

“We have no immediate plans to grow,” said Davis. “We’re at a manageable size that allows us to provide maximum value to our customers. Our intention is to be the company that gives customers the best bang for their buck, and because we work on so many public projects, it often means our customers are taxpayers. Our size and expertise allow us to bid competitively and complete jobs on time and on budget without cost overruns. That’s our calling card.”