“Komatsu makes quality machines, and that’s why we use them”
When Grayson Carter started his dirt work company in 1995, he was the only employee, and he completed jobs with a 1987 Dresser TD15C dozer. He knew it would take great dedication and effort to make Grayson Carter & Son Contracting Inc. successful, and his resilience was put the to test.
“For the first three years, it was like I was starving to death,” he recalled. “It was tough, and I didn’t sleep much. Most of the early jobs consisted of digging ponds and farm work, and the project list was pretty light.”
After only four years, Grayson was looking at the impending possibility of closing the business. His determination finally paid off with a pair of contracts that helped the company pull itself out of a financial crisis and sparked healthy growth.
“We were about to go broke when I landed a job at the Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama,” said Grayson. “We dug several defilade holes for the base’s army tanks. Four months later, they had us come back and install some fiber-optic cables as well, and we have been working there ever since. It certainly gave us some momentum.”
That financial freedom allowed the company to pursue other ventures. The firm began installing underground utilities and continued to handle projects at Redstone Arsenal. In 2006, the company expanded its services again and began developing subdivisions.
“We’ve been able to grow and diversify our services, which has been great,” noted Grayson. “We aren’t too focused in one area. I would say we split our work pretty well. Roughly 60 percent of it is commercial site development, and the other 40 percent is governmental, mainly for Redstone Arsenal.”
Today, the business has 38 employees. Grayson attributes the company’s success to its key employees. “We are very fortunate to have a great group of people; we couldn’t do it without them,” noted Grayson.
The firm focuses its efforts in a 75-mile radius of its Athens, Alabama, headquarters. Grayson Carter & Son recently completed the site development for a pair of large projects, Athens High School and the Hazel Green Shopping Center. It is currently clearing a 30-acre area for a new skeet-shooting range at Redstone Arsenal.
“We’ve been fortunate to have a good amount of repeat business thanks to our great customers, and that’s been a strength for us,” proclaimed Grayson. “We deliver quality results, and we can handle all of the site development, up to paving, in-house. Our customers appreciate working with only one person from start to finish.”
Going high tech
As the company’s name would imply, Grayson is not the only Carter involved in the business. His son, 30-year-old Halston, has been a part of the team since the start. However, his role is a little more significant today.
“From the beginning, Halston was quite interested in this work,” recalled Grayson. “He’d come with me and ride on the back of the dozer and stay until he fell asleep on a quilt. Today, he is the President of the company. He’s gung-ho about this business.”
One area where Halston is really making his mark in the company is with technology.
“All of this technology would have passed us by if it weren’t for Halston,” said Grayson, who now serves as Vice President of the firm. “That is something that is very interesting to his generation, and he’s really brought us up to speed with it.”
The company joined the technological revolution full-force when it began running a Komatsu intelligent Machine Control D61PXi dozer and installed a TOPCON system on its Komatsu PC290 excavator . For the Carters, the results were immediate.
“Our machine-control pieces have increased our production greatly,” noted Halston. “They help us save a lot on time and material. The biggest advantage for us is that not everyone has these tools. We have used them for less than a year, but they have already paid for themselves. We’re able to offer lower bids because our typical cost for staking has decreased dramatically.”
The company turned to Tractor & Equipment Company, Inc. (TEC) and Sales Rep Dwight Swaim when it wanted to add the D61PXi and the TOPCON system to the PC290. To maximize the efficiency and productivity of the new machine and positioning system, Grayson Carter & Son Contracting called on TEC Technology Solutions Expert Buddy Averett.
“Buddy was great; he helped us understand what this technology can deliver,” stated Halston. “He did whatever we needed him to do. He was always at the jobsite training guys. That was huge for us.”
TEC and Komatsu
Grayson Carter & Son’s fleet has grown along with the company. After beginning with a single used dozer, the company now owns approximately 45 pieces, and Komatsu machines from TEC are a mainstay for the firm.
In addition to the D61PXi dozer and PC290, the company has four Komatsu excavators – three PC200s and a PC160.
“Komatsu makes quality machines, and that’s why we use them,” explained Halston. “On top of that, TEC provides great service, which adds real value for us. We have different brands in our fleet, but the majority are from TEC.”
KOMTRAX, Komatsu’s telematics system, is also a beneficial service for the company.
“KOMTRAX is valuable because if a code pops up on a machine, TEC is aware of it and ready to fix it,” said Halston. “At times, they even know when something is wrong before we do, and they call us. TEC’s Tim Kohlenberg (Decatur Service Manager) and Dwight are excellent. They get everything diagnosed and fixed as fast as they can. That keeps us running.”
The company’s fleet also includes a Dresser 500E grader, Gradall 8500 excavator, a Dynapac CA150D roller, and Fecon attachments from TEC.
Efficiently into the future
Grayson’s hard work and resolve were responsible for getting the company to where it is today, and now he has handed the reins to Halston. The younger Carter is planning for future success, but not necessarily growth.
“I think we are at the right size,” shared Halston. “My focus is on improving efficiency, and I think we will be able to do that.”
He envisions technology playing an important factor in that equation. “GPS and machine-control technology are going to become more important. I think we’ll have more intelligent Machine Control pieces in the near future, and eventually all of the machines in our fleet will have some sort of auto-assist. That will be great for us.
“The one thing that won’t change is our commitment to hard work,” he continued. “There is no substitute for that. We will continue to deliver quality projects for our customers.”