“The WA500s are workhorses – reliable and productive”
The Enniss family has been involved in the San Diego-area construction industry for more than 60 years. Reid Enniss and his wife, Delpha, started a steel fabrication company in 1961. Through the years, Enniss Inc. has done a wide variety of work – from crane and steel erection (including working on many of the high-rises that dominate the San Diego skyline) to demolition, site work, utilities, trucking and material supply.
Although Reid and Delpha have passed away, Enniss Inc. remains a family-owned and -operated business.
“All of my brothers and sisters have been involved with the business for as long as any of us can remember,” said Blake Enniss, who serves as Vice President. “My first paid job was here when I was eight years old. My brother and I worked an entire summer, and our folks bought us a horse – that was our pay. We thought it was a pretty good deal.”
Based in the San Diego suburb of Lakeside, the Enniss family owns nearly 110 acres of land that is the source for most of its current business activities. Today, the company’s primary focus is material supply, including construction and demolition (C&D) debris, landfill and recycling.
“Regarding fill and waste material, we’re a one-stop-shop for area contractors,” Blake explained. “We mine topsoil and sand, which we sell to contractors. We accept C&D debris from contractors and recycle as much of it as we can. We also have several processing plants in our yard. We crush the rock and concrete that we receive and sell the finished product as fill material. We crush asphalt to be re-used as a base for capping roads. Material that we accept but cannot process and recycle, such as dirt and clay, we use as part of our reclamation efforts. Contractors bring it here to get rid of it because we’re cheaper than county landfills. We use it to fill the holes created from the mining of sand. As part of the reclamation, we water and compact that material, then cover it.
“All of the aspects of our business are intertwined – from mining the material; to accepting, processing and recycling the construction waste; to reclaiming the land,” he added. “We’re also in the process of developing the reclaimed land into industrial lots. So we have a full-circle business.”
Location and customer satisfaction
About 35 people work at Enniss Inc. The company considers its primary territory as San Diego County, from the Mexican border north to Oceanside and east to Alpine.
“We’re in a good location, and the vast majority of our customers are usually within a 50-mile radius of our facility in Lakeside,” said Blake. “I would guess that about every contractor within that area has been into our place, either purchasing or dumping material. They often do both at the same time – drop off a load of waste and pick up a load of finished material to take back to their jobs.
“Our calling card is to provide outstanding service every time,” he added. “We want our customers to come back, so we treat them well, get them in and out quickly and keep the dumping fee reasonable. As a result, we have a lot of regular contractor customers.”
A very good team
To provide the type of service that keeps customers coming back, Enniss Inc. relies on family and a solid core of longtime employees.
All six Enniss children grew up working in the company and now oversee activities. Sisters Carolyn Sandoval and Kelly Kufa take care of the office, billing and financial side of the business; brothers Blake, Wade and Eric Enniss handle field operations. A fourth brother, Chad, also worked at Enniss Inc. until suffering a stroke a few years ago. Aunt, D. Miller, has worked with the family since the early 1970s. She is always the first person to arrive at work in the morning and acts as the Corporate Secretary/Treasurer. Non-family member David Von Behren is Corporate President, but his involvement in the business at this time is mostly as an advisor.
“As family members, we all have our own specialties that we oversee,” said Blake. “We also have a group of veteran employees who we count on to do a great job for us and our customers. They are experienced and talented people who’ve been with us many years – like Jeff Vey, who handles our plant and materials production, as well as Jimmy Dickerson and Russell Chadwell, who run the steel fabrication shop. It takes everybody working together as a team to be successful in this day and age, and we think we have a very good team.”
Komatsu and Clairemont – the whole package
Enniss Inc. turns primarily to Komatsu machines from Clairemont Equipment Company to run its wide-ranging operations. Enniss Inc. owns four Komatsu WA500 wheel loaders, including two new Dash-8 models; an intelligent Machine Control (iMC) D61PXi dozer; an iMC PC210LCi excavator; and two older units – a PC200 excavator and a WD600 wheel dozer.
“We use the wheel loaders for processing – feeding the crushing and screening plants and loading out finished product,” Blake explained. “We also use them to carry base material to cap the industrial lots we’re building. The dozer does all of our finish grading. The iMC excavator is for a special project we have coming up – a half-mile Redi-Rock wall with a sloped bank.”
Historically, Enniss Inc. has run a mixed fleet of equipment, but going forward, Blake says the company will be buying Komatsu.
“We’re very happy with our new Komatsu units. The WA500s are workhorses – reliable and productive. The iMC dozer is awesome. We cut subgrade and do finish grade with it, and we use it to grade our industrial pads to within a quarter-inch. With the integrated GPS, we’re able to complete jobs much faster than we could with stakes and laser grading. There’s no guesswork with the D61PXi, and anybody can do it. It makes an inexperienced operator an expert. It’s an amazing machine.”
In addition to the equipment itself, Blake says he appreciates working with Clairemont Equipment Company.
“Before we bought this last group of machines, we did a demo with all the major brands and actually used a report card to score them. All of our operators loved the Komatsu machines, but what really sold us was Clairemont and our Sales Rep, Al Kish. It seems like everybody else came in with a highball price, then wanted to haggle. Al and Clairemont gave us their best price right from the start – and that was it. We respect that, plus they had great terms on a three-year, year-to-year lease. In the end, it was a pretty easy decision.
“Clairemont is the whole package – great equipment and excellent support, and they’re straight shooters,” he added. “We’ve worked with them in the past and are very comfortable with the relationship.”
Future includes more development
Looking to the future, Blake expects Enniss Inc.
to take on additional development work. “With more than a hundred acres of land here in Lakeside, we expect to be developing a great deal in the years to come – with the plan being to lease the lots for industrial use. Of course, we’ll also continue to do the recycling and aggregate production that we’ve done for many years, and we have a steel fabrication shop and a trucking company, so we’ll still have a lot of irons in the fire.
“We feel good about what we’re doing and our plan going forward,” he added. “As always, the key in business is keeping your customers happy. As long as we are able to do that on both the material supply and development sides, I’m optimistic about what the future holds for Enniss Inc.”