Komatsu excavators are smooth, powerful and reliable
Five years ago, Trent Duda decided it was time to be his own boss. He recruited a handful of employees, purchased a new Komatsu dozer and opened Earthwork Services Inc. All he needed was customers.
“We had a brand-new dozer on a cargo ship coming from Japan, but we didn’t have any jobs to use it on,” he recalled. “It was a little tense. Fortunately, we landed work right before it arrived, and we were able to exhale a little after that.”
From the time that dozer started moving dirt in the Fargo area, Earthwork Services hasn’t slowed down. The company started by performing small excavation projects with four employees, doubled to eight the next year and doubled again the year after that. Duda recruited his wife, Dana, to join the company full time as the office manager and also added hauling and demolition services to its repertoire. The growth surpassed even Duda’s expectations.
“Our five-year plan went out the window after a year and a half,” joked Duda. “It was a good problem to have. In the beginning, we took anything we could get, and eventually we were able to land some good jobs and perform on them. We’ve developed a strong reputation because of those results.”
Today, Earthwork Services employs 25 people. It handles 20-25 commercial excavating projects a year and has a fleet of 10 trucks that haul gravel and sand for customers. Plans call for opening a crushing/screening division sometime this year.
“We can take a site from a grass field right up to the point where it can be paved,” said Duda. “Park construction is something we do regularly. We build them from ground zero – strip the site and go from there.”
Earthwork Services also serves as a prime contractor on projects and sub-contracts the services it doesn’t provide.
Digging up history
The company is currently part of a venture called Roberts Garage, a mixed-use building in Fargo. The seven-level structure in the center of downtown will feature a new parking ramp with both commercial and residential space. This project is aimed at modernizing Fargo, but it has also offered an interesting glimpse into its past.
“This site has been a part of Fargo’s downtown district for nearly 150 years, so we expected to find some evidence of the previous structures when we began digging the foundation,” explained Duda. “The location was a parking lot when we started, but it had also been a hotel, armory, auto-repair shop, library and houses. Once we started digging, we couldn’t believe the stuff that we found. Every level had something different. It was really cool.”
Artifacts recovered from the site showed just how much history lay beneath the asphalt. Dishes from the Columbia Hotel that burned down in 1893; buttons for John F. Kennedy from the 1960 election; glass Coca-Cola bottles; and film of local politician Quentin Burdick that was preserved at the Carnegie Library. All drew the attention of North Dakota State University (NDSU), which collaborated with Earthwork Services to extract and archive the items.
“We wanted to make sure that everything we found was handled appropriately,” noted Duda. “There was a lot of history here, and we worked closely with NDSU and Kilbourne Group, the prime contractor, to make sure it was all kept safe.”
Since ordering that initial dozer, Duda has continued to fill his equipment fleet with Komatsu machinery from General Equipment & Supplies, Inc. and Sales Rep John Gromatka. Today, Earthwork Services owns several Komatsu pieces, including a pair of intelligent Machine Control dozers, a D51PXi and a D61PXi.
“The automation on the dozers is fantastic,” exclaimed Duda. “We can plug the project’s details in to dozers’ computers and go all day long. Our operators love them; they don’t want to use a conventional dozer again.”
Earthwork Services’ fleet also includes Komatsu excavators. “We have a PC160LC and a PC200LC,” said Duda. “They are smooth, powerful and reliable. They are exactly what we want in a machine, and that’s why we keep using them.”
In addition to reliable machines, Duda appreciates the service that Gromatka and General Equipment provide for Earthwork Services.
“General is top-notch,” shared Duda. “John does a great job for us whenever we need something. We appreciate the relationship we have with them.”
After experiencing accelerated growth throughout the last five years, Duda is focused on strengthening his business, more so than expanding it.
“We are at a great size right now; there are other companies that are bigger, but we really like where we are at,” said Duda. “My immediate goal is to make Earthwork Services as strong as it can be. We will keep growing, but that’s not our top priority now. We want to take care of what we have.”