Komatsu excavators are the key machines
Contingency plans are commonplace in the construction industry. Weather, budgets, illness or unforeseen elements of a project can force a company to change its original plan and formulate a new strategy on the fly. For County Contractors, Inc., President Dion Neisen, the ability to develop a “plan B” has helped his company succeed throughout the years.
Neisen was working for Sparks & Wiewel Construction in the early 2000s when its owners decided to retire. With the prospect of unemployment looming, Neisen took matters into his own hands and started County Contractors with two of his colleagues.
“We purchased some equipment from Sparks & Wiewel and hired some of their people to build our staff,” recalled Neisen, who has since bought out his original partners. “As the years went on, we continued to grow and find success.”
At its start in 2004, County Contractors focused on road and bridge construction, an area in which Neisen specialized early in his career. The company experienced modest growth in its first two years, but after landing a $1.5-million bridge contract in West Point, Illinois, in 2006, the company found itself in a position to really expand.
“That was our first large project,” said Neisen. “We were a new company, but everyone on our staff had more than 20 years of experience, so we knew we could handle it. We did everything we could to get enough bonding to bid on it, and we were fortunate to win it. Completing that job put us on the map, and it gave us the chance to add more crews. It really kick-started the company.”
Since then, County Contractors has routinely completed up to $10 million in projects annually while operating within a 200-mile radius of Quincy. It has 20 employees and supplements the staff with local union workers when needed. Neisen credits his people with the company’s success.
“Without great employees, we wouldn’t be here,” noted Neisen. “Tim Woodward and brothers Jeff, Steve and Jon White are all Superintendents who do an awesome job for us. Chief Financial Officer Ginger Whittaker and Estimator Chris Kauffman handle the office, which I appreciate because that allows me to keep working in the field.”
While bridge projects and the roadwork associated with them remain the core of the company, changes in the local economy and state budgets have forced Neisen to develop a plan B.
“Recently, there haven’t been many large bridge projects coming up for bid,” he explained. “We still do a few small county bridges, but we’ve needed to go after other jobs to make up for that. Fortunately, we’ve been lucky enough to keep plugging away.”
County Contractors has diversified to stay busy until more bridge and road projects become available. The majority of the contracts the company landed, such as sidewalks, parking lots, box-culvert installations and smaller sewer jobs for municipalities, were extensions of its road and bridge business. However, it also took on other unique projects, like a rock-crushing job on a barge in the middle of the Mississippi River, which it completed in late 2016.
“Our focus will always remain with bridges and roads, but until they come back, we will do what we have to,” said Neisen. “They are our specialty, but as we do more of these other jobs, we become increasingly comfortable with them. The diversification has been good for us and will be helpful going forward.”
While Neisen has developed many back-up strategies throughout his career, his original equipment plan remains intact. Komatsu machines from Roland Machinery Company are his staple.
“The relationship began a long time ago,” recounted Neisen. “I used Komatsus before I started County Contractors, and I also worked with Roland. It’s a stand-up company with great people. That’s why I’ve continued with them and use Komatsu.”
A longtime friendship with Sales Rep Jim Seals has only furthered the bond. “Jim and I played on the same high school basketball team, and we were employed at Sparks & Wiewel together. Jim began at Roland as a Service and Parts Manager when we started County Contractors. We always turned to Jim for help and had him work on our Komatsu machines. I know him, and I trust him.”
Komatsu excavators are the key machines for County Contractors as it has 17 pieces ranging from a PC35MR to a PC360.
“We love Komatsu excavators,” proclaimed Neisen. “They can handle everything from loading dirt to lifting forms, and they do a great job. They are fast, efficient and smooth in any application.”
Neisen also has three Komatsu dozers, including the D39PX and D51EX dozers he purchased in 2016. “We are big fans of the Komatsu dozers,” he shared. “They have performed very well for us, and I can’t wait to buy more.”
When Neisen contemplates the future of County Contractors, he knows to expect the unexpected. While his goals for the next decade will inevitably change, he hopes one thing remains constant – a team of excellent employees.
“I’ll give my staff credit every day,” he stated. “If it wasn’t for them, I’d have nothing. I don’t know how much longer I’ll be involved – or what I’m going to do when I retire – but I do know that I want to reward the people who are here. My hope is to move County Contractors into more of an employee-owned operation. They deserve it.”