“Komatsu is reliable, across the board”
After years of working for other people, Teal Carpenter and Jonathan Edwards decided to start their own businesses. The latter founded Jonathan Edwards, LLC, while Carpenter opened Cross Keys Construction Co., named for a railroad spur located near some property he owns.
Both began with fairly small operations. Edwards started roughly a decade ago with a truck he drove, eventually adding a second and a dozer. Carpenter started four years ago and built up to a truck and an excavator.
“Our separate businesses were often a part of the same projects, but we performed different scopes of work,” recalled Edwards. “We decided it might be in our best interests to combine assets and become one comprehensive site-preparation company. It allowed us to keep more services in-house and not have to sub out as much.”
One of the first projects they completed after the merger was installing storm drainage for a new apartment complex. Soon after, came the development of a cul-de-sac and five lots for a new neighborhood. This endeavor involved leveling the site and handling subgrade prep that included soil cementing and laying hot-mix asphalt. Both jobs were in the Shreveport area, Cross Keys Construction’s home base. From there, the firm covers nearly a 100-mile radius.
“At first, our focus was on private residential and commercial jobs,” said Carpenter. “During the past couple of years, we have built up to the point where we can bond bigger projects, and that led us to the public arena. We have a general contractor’s license, and we’re moving toward doing additional roadwork. Our goal is a more even mix of public and private jobs.”
Cross Keys Construction offers an extensive list of services, which allows it to handle a large scope of tasks for nearly any type of excavation or earthwork. In addition to pioneering and rebuilding roads, it performs land clearing, pond and levee construction and site preparation for new lots and subdivisions.
“We can break out services, but it’s our preference to do full site packages,” said Edwards. “However, while we have handled some utility work in the past, we generally sub that out, as well as the concrete curb and gutter. Everything else, we take care of in-house.”
Cross Keys Construction typically has three to four jobs going at any one time. Despite combining assets and taking on more complex projects, Carpenter and Edwards have decided to keep the business relatively small for now. That means they remain very hands-on, with both owners running equipment.
“Our customers like that, especially the developers and builders we work for,” said Carpenter. “They also appreciate that we will turnkey their projects at a fair price with no hassle, haggling or headaches. We move in, complete them on time and get out, so they can move forward with their construction. That has earned us a lot of repeat business.”
Reliable equipment, service
When Carpenter founded Cross Keys Construction, he immediately purchased a Komatsu tight-tailswing PC138USLC excavator from H&E Equipment’s Bossier City (Shreveport) branch with the assistance of Sales Rep Randy Hamm. Cross Keys continues to use that machine, along with a PC170LC-10 and a D39PX-23 dozer that it acquired after the merger.
“Randy found the excavator for me, and Komatsu was willing to finance it even though I was a new company. That helped me get a good start,” Carpenter recalled. “The PC138 has more than 5,500 hours on it, and there have been no major issues. It has been outstanding.
“So has H&E’s service,” added Edwards. “I had a competitive brand dozer previously, and it had some problems. The dealer wasn’t willing to work with me, but Randy and H&E were, so we struck a deal for the D39. I’m very glad we did because that machine delivers exceptional production. We use it for everything from stripping to finish dozing. It outperforms its size.”
Cross Keys equipped the PC170LC-10 with a thumb for added versatility. It uses the excavator for clearing, digging and loading. “Komatsu is reliable, across the board,” said Carpenter. “We’re still a small business with a limited number of machines. If one breaks down, that puts us in a bind. With Komatsu, that’s not a worry.”
H&E helps keep the newer machines running at peak performance by taking care of routine scheduled services under the Komatsu CARE program for the first 2,000 hours or three years. “They let us know when an interval is coming up and get it done at a convenient time,” said Edwards. “It ensuresis done on time, and that’s peace of mind. Randy and H&E take great care of us, and that’s why we purchase and rent Komatsu equipment as well as other brands from them, including Wirtgen Group products.”
A mix of future assignments
In the two years since Carpenter and Edwards have teamed up, they have grown Cross Keys Construction to a staff of nearly 10. During the next five years they would like to double in size.
“Growth is a goal,” stated Carpenter. “Not only from a physical size, but also in the markets we cover. We plan to bid additional jobs in the public sector, and if there are other opportunities out there, we are certainly open to them.”
That doesn’t mean Cross Keys will downplay private work. It has done several subdivision projects such as one in Haughton where crews cleared the land, moved close to 20,000 yards of dirt, built a road that included approximately 14,000 square yards of hot mix asphalt and graded more than 40 lots.
“That type of project will continue to be a focus for us,” said Edwards. “We want to maintain the strong relationships we have with area developers. They helped us get to this point, so we intend to take care of them, too.” that the work