Katchko & Sons is loyal to Komatsu and Ehrbar
Mention the company Katchko & Sons in the Stamford area and chances are you will get a positive response with a smile and a story. That’s the reputation Bob Katchko has created for his business after 25 years of working in the area; but it takes more than completed projects and met deadlines to earn that type of social currency. Katchko & Sons is a part of the community.
“We’ve been around for a long time,” said Katchko. “We have a good name and clean reputation; you can’t ask for more. Beyond that, we try to do our part. We’re pretty involved with the Little League and local high school – sponsoring if we can. It feels good to be able to give back.”
Katchko & Sons began in 1987. Katchko was 25 and wanted to start his own company, fueled by the belief that he was ready for something bigger.
“I made the decision to go out on my own, because I felt like I had the capacity to do more than I was doing at the time,” explained Katchko. “I thought that I might as well try it when I was young. I had already driven a truck for seven years, so I bought one of my own and got started.”
Growth began from there, as one truck eventually turned into six. In 1995, Katchko added an excavator to the mix, and the list of services expanded. He began doing residential excavation and demolition projects.
“Excavation really made sense with the trucking division,” recalled Katchko. “People were always calling us for fill material, and we were generating our own from our sites. Then we added demolition. It all worked together.”
Expansion came again in 2000, when the company added asphalt paving in addition to road, municipal and utility work. Today, Katchko & Sons has 15 employees and still offers those services. Katchko considers the company to be a site-work business that offers personalized service for customers.
“Whatever needs to be done, we can do it,” said Katchko. “We look for solutions, not problems. For example, we were putting in a storm pipe and there was a gas main in the way, about 13 feet below the street. Most companies would have plated the hole and made it someone else’s problem. Instead, I designed a solution, the engineer and city approved it, and we got the job done with about an hour and a half of down time. I think the willingness to do that separates us from other companies.”
Katchko says that extra effort is more effective with a strong support staff.
“Everyone who works here is great,” he said. “A lot of them have been with me for a long time; my mechanic has been here more than 20 years. I like to be hands-on, too. I handle estimating, accounts payable and receivable, but if I get the chance, I’m in a truck or on a machine. I go wherever I am needed.”
Putting up and tearing down
In the Stamford area, Katchko & Sons keeps busy with residential subdivision projects for multiple developers. Thanks to its strong reputation, the company is frequently invited to bid on projects, but Katchko knows that doesn’t guarantee anything.
“We have some great relationships with many developers, but it’s still a numbers game,” said Katchko. “The developers have to do what’s best for them, financially. Fortunately, with our strong reputation, good safety record and extensive experience, we are able to win a lot of bids.”
Katchko & Sons typically handles the installation of roads and utilities, such as water and gas lines, and storm drainage on projects. The company recently completed a pair of residential subdivisions in Stamford where it performed those services.
Currently, Katchko & Sons is working on a 30-unit condo development in downtown Stamford. It is performing all of the site work, plus excavation, paving, utilities, flat work and drainage.
“This is a unique site with its own set of challenges,” Katchko noted. “It’s being built on sandy material, so we’re paying a great deal of attention to safety – proper shoring, trenching, apparatuses and so on. This is a great job for us because we have the experience to complete it safely and to the customer’s satisfaction.”
While a majority of Katchko & Sons’ projects involve constructing sites, the company has also been called on to demolish them.
“We’ve had jobs where a person bought a property and immediately demolished the existing house so they could build a new one,” said Katchko. “We’ve demolished houses that cost as much as $6 million in order to start developing a site. People want the land – land is king. We’re happy to do that.”
Komatsu equipment from Ehrbar
When it comes to equipment, Katchko & Sons’ decision to use Komatsu machines from Ehrbar goes back almost 20 years and was forged on reliability, quality and efficiency.
“When we added excavating, I purchased a used excavator from another dealer,” recalled Katchko. “One day, I needed some filters, so I went to the dealership to get them. I was there for eight hours – just to pick up filters. I said I’d never go through that again, so I started working with Ehrbar. I purchased a new Komatsu 150 excavator, and our relationship began. That same year, we also bought a D39 dozer and a PC35 excavator.
“Ehrbar and Komatsu have been great,” added Katchko. “Their service is awesome. If I need parts, they are ready for me right away. The Komatsu machines are first rate. I’m a loyal person, and I’m happy to work with Komatsu and Ehrbar.”
Katchko & Sons’ fleet has grown significantly since those initial purchases. Katchko estimates that the company has 50 pieces, including paving equipment, much of it purchased through Ehrbar with the help of Sales Rep Andy Jett. Katchko & Sons’ newest purchase is a PC210LC-10 excavator.
“We love the PC210,” said Katchko. “It’s a workhorse for us, and we do a lot of digging with it. Komatsu makes a solid product. The parts are easy to get, the machines are reliable and maintenance is simple.”
Ehrbar’s service and support has been equally as reliable. The PC210LC-10 came with Komatsu CARE, which provides complimentary scheduled service on the machine for 2,000 hours or three years. That has been a great help for Katchko & Sons.
“We have a full-time mechanic, but since he doesn’t have to worry about doing anything for the maintenance of the PC210, he is able to concentrate on our other machines,” reported Katchko. “It’s a huge weight off our minds to not have to schedule anything for it right now. It saves us money, for sure.”
Putting the “sons” in Katchko & Sons
Presently, there is a lot of “Katchko,” but not much “sons” at Katchko & Sons. He hopes that changes in the future if his sons – Max, 11, and Nate, 4 – decide to join the company. Until then, Katchko plans to continue building the reputation he has worked hard to create.
“When I first started, I put everything into the business,” said Katchko. “I’d be here working all day, and if something needed fixed, I’d stay all night. It was a seven-day-a-week job for me. I’m proud that the hard work has paid off. If my boys want to join in the business, that would be great, but if they want to do something else, that’s ok. Either way, I‘ll continue to work as long as I can.”
As for future growth, Katchko thinks the company is in a good place right now.
“We offer a lot of good services and we do pretty well,” he said. “We’re the right size to handle a job at a big-box store and small enough to dig an addition for a customer’s garage. I like that.”