Customers in Action

Davidson Ready Mix & Construction


March 01, 2016

“Komatsu is productive, efficient and lasts”

Davidson Ready Mix & Construction

This year marks two milestones for Davidson Ready Mix & Construction, Inc. It is the Newfolden, Minnesota-based company’s 50th anniversary, as well as the 30th anniversary of Vice President Kevin Davidson joining the business full time.

Kevin oversees day-to-day operations of Davidson Ready Mix & Construction, which was founded in 1966 by his father and company President, Ron. However, the family dynamic extends past father and son. Kevin’s wife, Patty, handles accounts receivable; his sister Kim Nelson oversees accounts payable and payroll; and Project Manager/Estimator Dustin Holmstrom is his cousin. Ron is still involved, too, as he “checks in occasionally to see how things are going,” according to Kevin.

“Like a lot of people in a family business such as this, I worked for the company during the summers, after school and on breaks,” said Kevin. “I learned from the ground up – starting out as a laborer, then running equipment and driving a truck. Eventually, I got into project management and estimating. It was all good preparation for my current role.”

There are several aspects to Davidson Ready Mix & Construction. On the construction side, it provides a wide range of services, including grading, base preparation, culvert work and underground utility installation. The company typically works within a 100-mile radius of Newfolden, most often as a general contractor on hard-bid projects for municipalities, counties and the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

“Our work runs from half-day dozer jobs to comprehensive, multimillion-dollar projects, with the preference being general projects because it allows us to better control the scheduling,” said Kevin. “We handle everything with the exception of paving, traffic control and turf establishment, which we sub out. We offer complete site packages to other general contractors as well, and we will break out our services to do just grading or pipe work.”

Diversity includes supplying concrete, aggregate

Kevin Davidson said the size and scope of projects evolved over the years. Ron founded the company with a handful of employees and mainly dug ponds and ditches.

“I wanted to stay as local, and as busy, as possible,” said Kevin. “In order to do that, we had to keep adding and building upon our services. We started doing more road work in the 1980s, and in the ’90s, underground utility installation ramped up.”

The 1970s saw Ron Davidson add ready mix to the company’s resume. Today, Davidson Ready Mix & Construction has plants in Holt and Thief River Falls, Minnesota, with a fleet of trucks for delivery. In addition to typical and specialty mixes, the company makes products such as concrete blocks and septic tanks.

Aggregate for concrete production comes from several pits the company owns or leases. It also sells materials – including black dirt, mason sand, pea rock, recycled concrete, riprap, roofing rock and screened and washed rock. Customers can get materials at the pits, or the company will deliver.

Davidson Ready Mix & Construction

Staff builds success

Last summer, Davidson Ready Mix & Construction completed a $1.1 million street reconstruction project in Warren, Minnesota, where the company replaced six blocks of existing pavement. In addition, it removed old utility lines and installed nearly 6,000 feet of new water main, sanitary and storm sewer pipe. A subcontractor laid new asphalt pavement, as well as poured curb and gutter with concrete that Davidson Ready Mix & Construction supplied.

“We typically have four to five projects going at any time, but that number fluctuates depending on size and scope,” said Kevin. “It’s always nice to have bigger jobs that allow us to stay in one place for a long period of time, but that’s not always the case. We run anywhere from three to five crews from a staff of about 65 people company-wide.”

Kevin credits the staff for much of Davidson Ready Mix & Construction’s success.

“Because we have very little turnover, several people have been with the company 20 years or more, which is rare these days,” he noted. “They are dedicated, experienced and hard-working, and that’s vital in getting jobs done on time, on budget and to the customer’s satisfaction. I’m proud of each and every one of them in the field, in the offices, at our aggregate pits and at the ready-mix plants. The business wouldn’t be where it is today without them.”

Komatsu for 30 years

Kevin added that Komatsu equipment has played a vital role as well. About the time he joined the company full time, Davidson Ready Mix & Construction bought its first Komatsu pieces – a D65 dozer and a PC220 excavator. Today, it owns about 15 excavators, ranging in size from a tight-tail-swing PC25 to a PC750, including Tier 4 PC360 and PC490 models.

“We dig in a variety of conditions and situations, so having several excavators is essential,” said Kevin. “Across the board, Komatsu is productive, efficient and lasts. We tend to keep machines, especially excavators, a long time. In fact, our larger pieces often have 15,000 to 20,000 hours on them before we get rid of them. Even with that much use, Komatsu’s reliability is very high. Other than hoses, oil changes and some minor repairs, we have to do very little to them. Our Komatsu dozers and wheel loaders offer the same great attributes.”

Davidson Ready Mix & Construction

Davidson Ready Mix Construction also uses 15 dozers (D39, D51, D61 and D65 models) for grading, as well as several Komatsu wheel loaders for moving pipe and aggregate materials on jobsites and at its quarries. The company tracks the equipment with KOMTRAX, and General Equipment & Supplies performs scheduled maintenance on Tier 4 machines through the Komatsu CARE program for the first 2,000 hours or three years.

“KOMTRAX is a good tool for keeping tabs on maintenance, idle time, fuel usage and location,” said Kevin. “I like that Komatsu and General Equipment track our machines. When a code pops up or service is due on our Tier 4 machines, General lets us know and takes care of it. It’s added-value and peace of mind for us.”

In addition to Komatsu equipment, Davidson has purchased Surestrike, JCB and Gorman-Rupp products from General Equipment & Supplies. He works with Sales Representative Wayne Slinger.

“We have very solid relationships with Wayne and General because they take excellent care of us,” said Kevin. “Our parts – such as cutting edges and undercarriage items – come from General, which is great about having those on hand when we need them, or it can get them very quickly if not. We appreciate superior service, and Wayne and General always deliver.”

Focus on increased efficiency

Davidson Ready Mix & Construction grew each decade until the last. Kevin said that was by design, and he’s happy with where the company stands in 2016.

“About 10 or 15 years ago, I decided that we should focus on maintaining our staff and work volume, and increase our efficiency,” said Kevin. “One way we have done that is by integrating GPS technology into our fleet. We’re able to do more in less time than ever before. That will probably increase going forward, but the business itself won’t.

“There is enough work around here to keep us busy, and with our mix of services, we don’t have to travel too far,” he added. “For the most part, everyone can be home at night, and that’s important to all of us. There’s no reason to believe that philosophy can’t carry us into the next decade and beyond.”