Customers in Action

Stante B&V Construction

THIS DETROIT-AREA SITE DEVELOPMENT/UTILITY FIRM SPECIALIZES IN TOUGH JOBS WITH CHALLENGING SCHEDULES

January 18, 2016

“Komatsu iMC dozers are definitely a better way to grade”

Stante B&V Construction

If you think back to 2009, you’ll recall it was a difficult year. It was the depths of the Great Recession, and for construction companies, there wasn’t a lot of work. For two longtime Detroit-area contracting firms, Stante Excavating and B&V Construction, it was a time to re-examine their positions and perhaps find a better way to deliver projects to their customers.

“We didn’t merge but we did, more or less, combine forces,” said Antonello “Nello” Stante, President of the Wixom, Michigan-based firm, which retained the official name Stante Excavating but does business as Stante B&V Construction. “It made a lot of sense because B&V was a grading/earthmoving company whereas Stante Excavating’s expertise was underground utility work. We frequently worked together on projects anyway with one of us as the general contractor and the other as a sub. By joining forces, we’ve been able to partner up and package a more cost-effective bid that encompasses both aspects of the job.”

In addition to Nello, other partners in Stante B&V are his brother Mario Stante, their cousin Dan Naurato, and Sam Nardicchio. Nardicchio came from B&V and runs the earthwork division while the Stantes and Naurato run the underground. The company does a wide range of work that includes commercial sites, residential subdivisions, roads, landfills, golf courses, levees, wetland mitigation, erosion control and overburden removal.

“Basically anything having to do with earthwork and/or underground, we do it,” said Nello. “Our strength in the market is our ability to get a job done right and get it done fast. We have knowledgeable, talented and dedicated employees. The slogan on our trucks is, ‘It’s not when you start, it’s when you finish.’ We take a lot of pride in our ability to get results.

“Bad ground, wetlands, deep sewer work – stuff that many companies don’t even want to try – that’s our forte,” he added. “Not to toot our own horn, but if you go to any municipality in the region and ask them who they want on the job when they’ve got to get a difficult project done in a short time frame, I’m confident our name will come up nine times out of 10.”

Among the more challenging jobs Stante B&V recently completed were three miles of sanitary sewer through an ITC high voltage corridor in Canton, Michigan; two miles of dyke relocation for the Erie Marsh Hunt Club in very difficult material near Lake Erie; and a fast-track subdivision in bad ground and bad weather for a large national homebuilder in Macomb Township last fall.

“Because of our experience and overhead, our bid is often going to be higher than another company’s,” said Nello. “If you have a simple, straightforward job that anybody can do, we’re probably not the company you’re looking for. But if you have a tough job that has to get done, especially if there’s a hard-and-fast time frame, you’re going to want to talk to us. On jobs like that, some contractors over-estimate their abilities and promise more than they can deliver. At Stante B&V, we know what it takes to do those jobs and we make sure they get done.”

Komatsu cab-forward dozers

Stante B&V recently purchased two Komatsu intelligent Machine Control (iMC) dozers, a D51PXi and a D39PXi, from Continental Equipment Company (CEC is a division of AIS Equipment) and Sales Rep Greg Doyal. Nello says he had his eye on Komatsu dozers for a long time.

“I first saw the cab-forward Komatsu dozers with the slant nose at CONEXPO in 2011,” he recalled. “It was a revolutionary design. I got on the machine and the visibility to the blade just blew me away. I knew immediately it would make any dozer operator better. At the time, we were still reeling from the recession and were in no position to buy anything, but I knew, when the time was right, this would be a dozer to consider.”

Fast forward to last winter – the economy had improved to the point where Stante B&V was in the market for a couple of new dozers. Nello remembered the Komatsu design and learned that the dozers he liked could now also be ordered with GPS grade control integrated into the machine.

“We’ve had aftermarket GPS systems on our dozers for many years, but the Komatsu D51PXi and D39PXi, with no external mast or cables to mount and remove every day, was another big step forward,” he said. “We checked out the other brands and nothing came close. For our purposes, these are the best dozers out there.”

“When you sit on the machine, the benefit of the cab-forward design becomes crystal clear – it’s an astronomical improvement,” said Superintendent Tom Hahn. “A key side benefit is that with the radiator in the back, it’s not getting full of dust and dirt all the time. With a conventional dozer, you’re blowing out the radiator nonstop in the summer to prevent overheating. Production improves when you don’t have to do that so much.”

The iMC advantage: no stake grading

Stante B&V Construction

Sam Nardicchio says the integrated GPS on the Komatsu iMC dozers makes a real difference for Stante B&V’s grading and site development.

“We grade millions and millions of square feet annually, so if there’s a better way to do it, we want to have it. We’ve found Komatsu iMC dozers are definitely a better way to grade. The big key is that, with the integrated GPS, we’re able to grade without stakes, so we never have to sit and wait for surveyors. As soon as our underground crews have the pipe in the ground, we can be out there grading. I’ve actually graded an entire site with our Komatsu iMC dozers – streets, lots and everything – without a single stake in the ground, and finished within 2/100ths of an inch. That was the proof-in-the-pudding for me. The system works as advertised.”

“I can program everything the operator needs into the dozer so there’s no waiting for surveyors – or a foreman,” added Project Manager and GPS Specialist Drew Snarski. “We gain at least a half-hour more work every day since there are no masts and cables to install and remove, and safety is enhanced because no one has to climb on the blade to do the installation of the aftermarket systems.”

The end result, according to Hahn, is that Stante B&V is able to grade at least 30-40 percent faster with its Komatsu iMC dozers compared to the company’s old dozers.

“We haven’t specifically measured it yet, but when you’re on the job like I am, you know it because you see it,” said Hahn. “One of the first jobs we put the D51PXi on was a pipe job at Telegraph and West Road in Brownstown Township, Michigan. Danny (Naurato) was at the site and wanted it cleaned. We sent out the D51i. After a few hours, he called the office and said, ‘I can’t believe what I’m seeing. I’ve got roads and pads. This job was a mess and now it looks like a site again.’ That was a job that might have taken several days but we knocked it out in an eight-hour shift with the D51i.”

“In our business, time is money, and our Komatsu iMC dozers save us a lot of time,” said Nello. “That’s especially important for us because we pride ourselves on getting jobs done quickly. Our new Komatsu dozers make us look good.”

Dealer support

While the dozers have been everything he expected and more, Nello says that’s only half of what he’s looking for. The other half is dealer support.

“No matter how good a machine is, you’re eventually going to need parts and service. We can’t afford to have a machine down for any length of time because it could impact our reputation as a ‘can-do’ contractor. Support from the dealer is very important to me. AIS is doing well in meeting our needs.”

“Greg does a great job for us,” added Nardicchio. “We also appreciate that they have a Technology Solutions Expert, Will Burtt, to help us with all the new technology. Will helped us set everything up and has been readily available to answer questions about the GPS and the KOMTRAX remote monitoring system.”

Growing and optimistic

Back when they were separate companies and the Detroit-area economy was going strong, Stante and B&V employed more than 400 people. When the economy tanked, the new company downsized to as few as 40 employees. Now, Stante B&V Construction is back up to about 130 people and is still growing.

“What the company will be like in five or 10 years will largely be determined by the economy,” said Nello. “Certainly, we intend to grow, but I think past experience will make us somewhat cautious in regard to how much and how quickly we grow. That said, we definitely want to always be moving forward. As long as we maintain our reputation as the contractor customers can count on to complete tough jobs in a timely manner, I’m optimistic about what lies ahead for Stante B&V Construction.”