Customers in Action

Gulf Stream Construction


March 31, 2015

“Komatsu excavators are the best – period”

Gulf Stream Construction

Based in Charleston, S.C., Gulf Stream Construction has become one of the leading site development/grading firms in Charleston, Berkeley and Dorchester Counties. The company started as a dredging firm in the 1960s. When Ken Holseberg became president in 1994, Gulf Stream had about half-a-dozen employees. Today, more than 150 people work there.

“We’re an overnight success 20 years in the making,” joked Holseberg. “Seriously, we’ve experienced what I would call ‘steady growth.’ And by steady, I don’t mean a straight line up. It’s more like stock market growth – up and down, but trending up over time. We are dependent on the overall economy. When it struggles, we struggle. When it’s strong, we’re strong. Right now, it’s strong, at least locally, so we’re busy, and we’re growing.”

Historically, Gulf Stream has focused primarily on private commercial work and has done many signature projects in the Charleston area. When the recession hit hard, the company switched to doing mostly public work, including road reconstruction.

“Today, we go wherever the work is, public or private, it doesn’t matter to us,” said Holseberg. “Moving dirt is moving dirt. Whether we’re doing it for the state, the city, a local business or a private developer, we think we do it better than anybody else in the industry.”

Gulf Stream does a combination of bid and negotiated work and typically handles all aspects of a site job. While it may sub out some facets, it oversees everything to ensure top quality.

“One of our greatest strengths as a company is the professionalism of our people,” said Holseberg. “The vast majority of our estimators and project managers, including myself, Vice President Mark Hylton and Sr. Project Manager Matt Arrants, are licensed engineers. The professionalism extends to our field guys, led by Equipment Manager Kevin Williamson and Superintendents Earl Longshore and Willie Dear. While our foremen, operators and laborers may not have engineering degrees, they certainly know how to get work done. We think we have the best crews in the region.

“Because of our people and our equipment, which includes probably the largest number of GPS machines in the area, we’re able to handle difficult, challenging jobs that many companies prefer to avoid, and we have a history of completing them on time and on budget,” he added. “A complex grading job with many different aspects to it, or one with a lot of subcontractors that requires a lot of coordination, those are jobs where we shine.”

Komatsu equipment and Linder support

Gulf Stream Construction

To do those types of projects, Gulf Stream Construction has a large fleet of machines, much of it Komatsu equipment from Linder Industrial Machinery and Sales Rep Mick Weber. Komatsu units include 18 track hoes (PC78 to PC360), eight wheel loaders (WA180 to WA320), seven dozers (D31-D61i) and four new Komatsu HM400 off-road haul trucks.

“We’ve had excellent success with all of our Komatsu machines,” said Equipment Manager Kevin Williamson. “The wheel loaders and small dozers have been very good to us. Our machines have to reach 5,000 hours before I’m willing to attest to how good it is, but I can tell you the new trucks and the new D61i and D51i intelligent Machine Control dozers give us great production and the operators really like them.

“As for Komatsu excavators, I’ve been at Gulf Stream for more than 20 years, and Komatsu is the only excavator brand we’ve ever owned,” Williamson added. “They’ve given us low-maintenance, power, speed and great production. To me, Komatsu excavators are the best – period – which is why we keep going back whenever we need another one.”

Gulf Stream has its own mechanics but counts on Linder for service as needed.

“Linder does a good job with parts and service, and we have them do the routine maintenance on all our new Komatsu machines as part of an extended warranty,” said Williamson. “They’re good people to work with, and our Linder Sales Rep Mick Weber has never steered us wrong.”

Continued growth likely

While Holseberg credits employees for much of Gulf Stream’s success through the years, he’s also quick to praise loyal clients. “If you look at a ‘Who’s Who’ of developers, builders, engineers and companies in Charleston, you’ll probably find that we’ve worked with every one of them. I’m happy to say, we’ve worked for most of them many times.

“When I took over the business, I thought we could grow, but I never thought we’d be as big as we are today,” he added. “Charleston has grown a lot in the last two decades, and we’ve been able to grow right along with it. As long as the city continues to grow, and people who track such things predict that it will, then I’m optimistic about what lies ahead for Gulf Stream Construction.”