Christening a Komatsu PC1250
When Tracy Hazelton started H&S
Contracting in 2004, he intended to have a
small, yet successful company that focused
on dirt projects in the Moorhead, Minnesota,
and Fargo, North Dakota, areas. He believed
the company would eventually grow and
expand a bit, but the amount of growth that
has occurred has surprised him.
“This is way beyond anything I expected,”
said Hazelton, who is President. “Ten years
ago, I wouldn’t have guessed we would have
70 people working here and offer as many
services as we do today. We’ve been fortunate
to grow like we have.”
The company has handled the growth
very well. Expansion began in 2008, when
H&S Contracting started performing the
underground components on its dirt projects.
By 2010, the company had a dedicated
underground division. Growth came again
in 2015, when H&S Contracting opened
an aggregate division and began recycling
concrete. Today, the company handles
projects ranging from $50,000 to $5 million.
In addition to its other divisions, it owns two
gravel pits and offers demolition, trucking/
hauling, crushing and flood-control services.
Every time H&S Contracting grew, the
company became stronger.
“We started adding services because it
was getting hard to find subcontractors,”
Hazelton explained. “The Fargo-Moorhead
area has been booming for a while, and
everyone was busy, so we took matters into
our own hands. We thought that if we could
handle more areas of a project, we could
control the quality better. That mentality
stuck with us and has been the reason we’ve
continued to grow. Now, we can perform
most projects from beginning to end.”
Many companies grow and add services
in order to compete, but few can do that as
successfully as H&S Contracting and continue
to thrive in all areas of their business. For
Hazelton, it all comes down to one thing.
“Quality is our top priority, and that
carries over to every division,” he stated.
“If it’s a dirt, pipe, trucking or crushing job,
we are going to provide the service that
everyone expects. Every division is playing
for the same team, so we expect the same
commitment to quality from everyone.
“We carry that mentality to everything we
do,” he added. “We want our machines to
look good, and we spend the money to have
them cleaned regularly. We also keep our
jobsites clean and organized. It’s a reflection
on how we do business. Some people don’t
think it’s a big deal, but it matters to me.”
Crushing it with General Equipment
H&S Contracting’s most aggressive
expansion occurred when it opened its
aggregate division. The company began with
gravel crushing to provide material for its
road-construction jobs. The focus quickly grew.
“We had the equipment, so we thought
we might as well get the most out of it,” said
Hazelton. “We started with custom crushing
for customers, and then we began recycling.
The market is very aggressive right now, and
I love this side of it. Superintendent Harold
Klug runs the aggregate side for us, and he
does a great job.”
Hazelton made the decision to go all-in
on the aggregate side in June 2015 when he
purchased a new crushing and screening
plant. The direct-drive spread – one of the
few of its kind in the country – includes
Superior stackers and a KPI-JCI K200 cone
plant. H&S Contracting purchased the pieces
from General Equipment & Supplies, Inc.
with the help of Sales Rep John Gromatka
and Aggregate Sales Manager Don Kern, a
decision that was a no-brainer for Hazelton.
“When we decided to get into aggregates,
we sat down with General Equipment and
came up with a plan,” Hazelton recalled. “If
you are going to do aggregates, you need to
go through General Equipment; they know
this industry better than anyone – it’s that
simple. We were just getting into the industry,
but they treated us like a big-time customer and
designed this awesome plant for us. Don, John
and everyone there is great. That’s why they are
Hazelton also added a recycling component
to the company’s crushing side. H&S
Contracting uses a JCI impact crushing and
screen plant for recycling jobs. Both the
recycling and crushing plants are transported
between jobs by H&S Contracting’s trucking
division via lowboy Trail King TK110 trailers,
which H&S acquired from General Equipment.
H&S crushes material ranging in size from
3/8-inch pea gravel to riprap. It typically does
recycling jobs that are less than 15,000 tons of
material and can handle 100,000- to 150,000-ton
gravel projects. H&S Contracting typically
crushes 40,000 to 50,000 tons of gravel at a time
when crushing for itself.
For customers, it crushes material and leaves
it onsite. H&S Contracting also creates specific
road base for Minnesota and North Dakota
road projects, in addition to fill material for its
underground projects. It has gravel pits in Rollag,
Minnesota, and Hankinson, North Dakota.
As with the rest of the company’s expansions,
the jump to aggregates helps the whole
“We can do a road project and handle
everything but the asphalt – and we can control
the quality of the material,” said Hazelton. “This
is the perfect example of one division making
the other better. It’s helped us out a lot.”
Komatsu on the horizon
When it comes to heavy equipment, more
Komatsu machines are joining the H&S
fleet. In 2015 when Hazelton purchased the
crushing plant from General Equipment, he
also added a Komatsu WA500 wheel loader to
“The WA500 is a great two-pass loader,”
said Hazelton. “Our operators like running
it, and all of our aggregate people love it. It’s
the perfect fit for us, and downtime has been
minimal. When we’re shooting for high tonnage
goals at our plant, the WA500 delivers.”
Hazelton says the WA500’s added features –
specifically KOMTRAX, Komatsu’s remote
machine-monitoring system – have come in
“We had a couple of minor issues with the
steering and air conditioning on the WA500,
but with KOMTRAX, Komatsu was able to pull
up our machine on its computer and diagnose
the problems. General Equipment sent out a
technician right away and fixed them.”
H&S Contracting also rented a PC210LCi –
the world’s first intelligent Machine Control
(iMC) excavator – for a project at North
Dakota’s Upper Maple River Dam in 2015.
The results were eye-opening for Hazelton.
“We dug a 700-foot trench that was 8-feet
deep and 3-feet wide in a very short time,”
Hazelton said. “It was phenomenal. The
trench was perfectly straight, and no worker
ever had to set foot in it. The crew members
who ran the PC210LCi bragged it up; they
loved the grade it kept and how smooth it ran.
In fact, that same crew tested another brand’s
attempt at integrated control this winter and
was not impressed. Crew members said it
wasn’t even close to the Komatsu PC210LCi.
I think we are now in the market for an iMC
excavator after our experience.
“Since we’ve been working with General
Equipment, we have been looking at Komatsu
machines a lot more,” he added. “We want the
best available equipment, and Komatsu has
proven that it makes a great machine.”
More growth ahead?
Considering that the amount of growth
and diversification has surpassed Hazelton’s
plans when he started the company 12 years
ago, it makes sense that he doesn’t envision
much additional growth in the near future.
“I think we are at a good size,” he said.
“We aren’t the smallest, but we aren’t the
biggest either, and we have the ability to do
a lot of projects because of that. Plus, at our
current size, if we were to grow, it would
have to be a serious expansion – maybe
double in size – for it to work financially. I
am not ready to do that.”
The company is, however, anticipating
continued success. It recently began
construction on a new office and shop in
“We’re planning on being around for a
while,” said Hazelton. “I think we can focus
on what we’re doing now and find ways to
get better and be more efficient. As long as we
continue to deliver a quality product for our
customers, I think we’ll be in demand.”