Customers in Action

M.J. Cataldo


April 14, 2016

“We like Komatsu equipment because it’s reliable, holds its value and is easy to maintain”

Joe Cataldo always loved being outside when he was growing up, and his family’s farm gave him ample opportunity to do that. However, when it came time to pick a career, the farming industry didn’t appeal to him, so he decided to go into landscaping.

“I knew I wanted to do something I enjoyed,” said Cataldo. “I loved being outdoors and being around plants, so I began mowing lawns and planting shrubs.”

Cataldo started his company in 1974. Today, he is president of M.J. Cataldo, Inc. After five years of focusing on landscaping projects, the company began to grow and eventually took on site-development projects.

That growth has continued, especially during the last five years. Today, M.J. Cataldo, Inc. has as many as 10 projects going at a time. Jobs range from serving as general contractor on a multi-million dollar project to planting a tree in a customer’s back yard. The majority of Cataldo’s work is within a 50-mile radius of his home base in Littleton, Massachusetts.

“As a company, we really try to focus on what we do well and pay attention to the details,” said Cataldo. “We work very hard; we’re honest, fair, and we answer our phones. I think our customers appreciate that.”

First ones in, last ones out

M.J. Cataldo, Inc. has developed a broad customer base by working for general contractors, performing public work and doing private landscaping. The company won a bid for a multi-field athletic complex for Newman Elementary School in Needham, Massachusetts, in the summer of 2015 and served as the general contractor. The project called for the construction of a soccer field, two softball fields, a walking trail and an irrigation system.

“We did all the site-development work plus landscaping,” he said. “We subbed out the fencing, irrigation and paving. The work was also located next to a nature boardwalk project that we were working on, which was convenient.

“As a site developer, we are usually the first ones on a project, and as a landscaper, we are usually the last ones to leave,” he added. “As general contractor, I can make sure we control how the project is done from start to finish.”

“Partners” with C.N. Wood

As Cataldo grew his company, he turned to C.N. Wood’s Woburn, Massachusetts, branch. It is a relationship that goes beyond business.

“I consider C.N. Wood a partner,” said Cataldo. “They are the reason we are where we are today, and I can’t say enough about them. They don’t pressure me and they are honest.”

A key element of that partnership is the Komatsu equipment and service that C.N. Wood provides. Currently, Cataldo has 11 Komatsu excavators, ranging from a PC27 to a PC290, in addition to a D51EX dozer and two Komatsu wheel loaders.

“We like Komatsu equipment because it’s reliable, holds its value and is easy to maintain,” said Cataldo. “We have a PC138 tight-tail-swing excavator that we love; it’s probably the most versatile machine we own. We had to rent a competitive brand one time. While it was the same size, it just wasn’t as good.”

The company also demo’d a Komatsu D61PXi intelligent Machine Control dozer on a recent project. Cataldo was impressed by the dozer and said it would definitely improve operator productivity.

C.N. Wood and Sales Rep Brian Doherty have been instrumental in Cataldo’s equipment purchasing.

“C.N. Wood allows us to do a purchase rental for a long period of time, so we can build equity in to a piece of equipment,” said Cataldo. “We talk about the payment schedule, and they understand that our situation depends on the weather and work we have on the books. They’ve been wonderful to work with.”

Cataldo also takes advantage of the extra services available through Komatsu and C.N. Wood, specifically the KOMTRAX machine-monitoring system and Komatsu CARE, which includes complimentary service for the first three years or 2,000 hours.

“Komatsu CARE is great for us,” said Cataldo. “Sometimes when you’re a contractor dealing with daily issues, machine maintenance falls to the bottom of the pile. Having C.N. Wood watch that stuff for us and tell us when things need to be done has worked out very, very well.”

Just as the recession forced Cataldo to look at the services he provides, it also helped shape the way he has continued to build his fleet. C.N. Wood remained a strong part of the process.

“They have helped us build in a cautious and pragmatic way,” said Cataldo. “I like to own equipment. Brian and I can sit down and talk about my fleet honestly – when to turn in machines, when to buy and when to rent. I appreciate that Brian works with us. He’s on our side.”

Building for the future

At 61 years old, Cataldo says he’s having too much fun to slow down, and he credits the success of the company to a core group of employees who have been with him for years.

“We have such a great group of people who work here, and I like to say we built the business around them,” said Cataldo. “From our accountant to our laborers, everyone plays a big part in making us who we are.”

While that group of employees has laid the groundwork for success, a homegrown group of employees – which Cataldo has dubbed as his “twenty-somethings” – is primed to lead the company into the future. That group includes Cataldo’s son Michael.

“Michael is Vice President. He handles the schedules and puts his hands on all the projects we have going on,” he said. “He’s been with me ever since he was a kid, this is what he’s always wanted to do.

“We also have a group of younger employees that has the ability to operate,” he added. “They’re not cowboys, they pay attention. For us to have a young, talented group is great. I try to keep them grounded and not let their heads get too big, but they really are rising stars.”

For someone who started the business as an excuse to be outside, the journey has exceeded Cataldo’s expectations.

“When I started out mowing lawns, I thought if I could make $10,000 a year, I would be a pretty lucky guy. Fortunately, I make a little more than that, and I still get up everyday and look forward to going to work. I’m having fun and I get to work with my son and other great people. I plan on working until they carry me out.”