Komatsu equipment stands out
Few companies provide the comprehensive list of services that D. Grimm, Inc. does. The fact that the list is so extensive is even more impressive, considering that the Conroe, Texas-based company only began offering these additional services about two years ago.
That’s when Dawn (Grimm) Mallard teamed up with Shawn Harvey, Paul Preston, Carol Truitt, Mitch Baeskow and brothers Arturo and Enrique Zenon, all of whom make up the company’s management team. Dawn initially started D. Grimm in 2000 as a consulting service for the telecommunications industry – the rest of the group brought the construction experience.
“I was an independent contractor helping a mobile phone company launch its networks,” recalled Mallard. “I managed various aspects of the construction process and worked with contractors to build sites and get everything up and running. Eventually, things wound down; the cell company stopped looking for new markets and moved away from using independent contractors. It was a good time for a new direction.”
Dawn Mallard and Shawn Harvey went to high school together, and about the time she was considering a change, the two connected again through social media. Harvey, Preston, Truitt, Baeskow and the Zenon brothers had worked together at another company for several years. They installed underground utilities in the Houston area before heading to Amarillo to perform land development and related services for a foundation contractor in the energy services market.
“Similar to Dawn, we were looking for a change and the chance to be our own bosses,” said Preston. “The timing was perfect, and the market presented a good opportunity, so we joined forces and began work under the banner of D. Grimm.”
In a relatively short time, the management team developed a strong bond and each took a prominent role in D. Grimm’s operations. Harvey is the Manager, Preston is Chief Operating Officer, Truitt is the Financial Controller, Baeskow is an Estimator, Arturo Zenon is the Energy Services Operations Manager and Enrique is the Land Development Operations Manager.
“About two years ago, we started with what we call the ‘original seven.’ Today, our employee list is close to 100,” said Preston.
D. Grimm is a full-service civil contractor with two divisions: Energy Services and Land Development, the latter of which has a particular focus on underground utilities. Both divisions provide a comprehensive list of offerings. The Energy Services side constructs the civil scope for substations and transmission lines and provides full-site packages, foundation construction and right-of-way clearing. Its services also cover related amenities, such as fencing and gate installation, as well as environmental items that involve best-management practices. Those include access matting, storm water pollution prevention plans (SWPPP) and maintenance, and reporting of environmental controls as well as restoration of impacted areas.
The Land Development Division also offers SWPPP and maintenance, such as service crews for detention basins, rights-of-way and facilities; full-site packages that include clearing and grubbing; development of detention basins, drainage channels and ditches; mass and finish grading; and installation of water, sanitary and drainage utilities.
While the vast majority of D. Grimm, Inc.’s projects have been done in Texas, including a large number in Houston and its surrounding areas, the company also provides services throughout the Midwest and South, including Mississippi, Louisiana, New Mexico, Arkansas, Kansas, Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri and Oklahoma.
“Currently, utility installation makes up about 70 percent of our business,” said Preston. “Our land development work typically is driven by the utilities we put in on a subdivision or other sites. We do site work in general, but that’s normally coordinated with our energy services side. Our market strategy is to grow the Energy Services Division. We would like a 50/50 split, or maybe even 60 percent being energy services. No matter how you slice it, though, we believe our diversity is a real asset that plays – and will play – a future role in our success.”
On both the land development and energy services sides, the list of completed and ongoing projects is long and varied, as is D. Grimm’s customer list. The Land Development Division has six crews and the Energy Services Division has four. The company often does repeat business with many customers, working as either a general contractor or a subcontractor. The company generally has about 15 jobs in various stages of development at a given time.
“Customers know they can trust us to meet their schedules,” said Preston. “Our experience and extensive list of services means we can tackle practically any job. We also appreciate the hard work and dedication of our employees. With the large number of projects we have going at any one time, and as spread out as we are, it’s impossible for us to get to every job, every day. We rely on a core group of excellent superintendents who oversee a great group of operators and laborers, and they have proven that they will get jobs done without us constantly looking over their shoulders. Our staff, including those who work in our offices, deserve a great deal of credit for our ability to complete any job on time and on budget.”
Komatsu stands out, WPI part of the family
D. Grimm, Inc. relies heavily on Komatsu equipment and has a large fleet that consists of excavators, wheel loaders and dozers, including intelligent Machine Control D51PXi-22s.
“We are extremely impressed with the accuracy of the D51i dozers,” said Enrique Zenon. “The integrated GPS is phenomenal. Once the elevations are set, they do the work seamlessly. We don’t have to constantly check grade, so our time and labor costs are dramatically reduced, as is our need for additional machines.”
D. Grimm was looking for multiple machines from its outset. The company contacted WPI Sales Rep Mark Rickett, who helped with the purchase of Tier 4 Final PC360LC-11 excavators, as well as PC360LC-10s and PC210LC-10s, WA320-7 wheel loaders, and D39EX-23 and D39PX-23 dozers. The company now has about 40 Komatsu pieces, in addition to BOMAG compactors and Takeuchi utility machines.
“We use the PC360s on jobs where speed, power and production are essential,” said Arturo Zenon. “The 210s are used for smaller projects and support work. Both sizes easily handle digging and putting pipe in the ground. The loaders give us the versatility to carry pipe with forks and backfill with buckets. The 39s are perfect for small pad sites and finish work. I like that all of the Tier 4 machines are covered under Komatsu CARE, so WPI handles the scheduled services. KOMTRAX is a great feature, too, giving us critical, real-time information about idle time, fuel consumption and more.”
“We told Mark what kind of spread we needed and what our plans were, and he and WPI came up with a package and plan that suited us – both from equipment and support standpoints,” added Harvey. “Because we were a fairly new company without a lot of working capital, they easily could have dismissed us. We’re grateful that they took the time to get to know us and were willing to work with us. We promote a family atmosphere; and we consider Mark, Senior Product Support Rep Les Frazier and WPI in general, part of the family.”
Harvey expected D. Grimm to grow quickly, while Mallard was confident that the business would expand, just at a slower pace. Harvey’s hunch was right, and the current, fast-paced growth the business experienced has the entire management team believing that the company will continue to flourish.
“Shawn saw it, and I thought we could do well; but I didn’t think we would be this big, this fast,” said Mallard. “We see the markets growing, so I think both long- and short-term prospects are good for further expansion. In fact, we are acquiring a fleet of trucks with an eye toward a Material Delivery Division.”
“That’s probably as far as we’ll go in terms of what we offer,” added Harvey. “We’re comfortable with utilities, land development and energy services; and we’ve learned through the years to stay in our wheelhouse. We know what we’re good at, and that’s civil construction, so that’s where we will stay.”