“We know that our Komatsu equipment is going to produce for us”
Kuesel Excavating Co., Inc. President Michael Steiniger had a decision to make as the recession was coming to an end in 2011. He could grow the company and expand its territory to follow loyal customers or remain the same size and try to stay afloat in a market that was still feeling the effects of the downturn. The decision seemed like an easy equation for Michael – customers equal stability and potential growth.
“At that time in our area, there weren’t many large projects, but there were several companies competing for them,” recalled Michael. “One advantage for us was that we had some great relationships with customers who had sizeable jobs coming up. They were located out of our typical area, but we needed the work. It made sense to grow and follow them.”
Shortly after making that decision, Kuesel Excavating grew from a company with 50 employees that performed earthwork projects in eastern Missouri, to one with 100 employees that completed roughly 150 jobs a year throughout the Midwest. With the significant growth has come improved efficiency.
“We added several moving parts with the expansion, so we had to be on top of things even more,” said Michael. “We started to account for some costs that we hadn’t incurred in the past, like hotels and additional gas. Logistically, we considered transporting equipment and scheduled maintenance when we were out of our area. There was a learning curve, but paying attention to the little things made us a better company.”
One thing Kuesel Excavating did to keep its i’s dotted and t’s crossed was hire Chief Financial Officer Jeff Sachs in 2015.
“We are more meticulous in how we monitor jobs,” explained Jeff. “We calculate the real cost of our operation – travel, machines and maintenance. Now, when we make a decision, we know the exact financial impact, and we have greater efficiency because of it.”
While Kuesel Excavating has grown, its services have remained the same and that is perfectly fine with its customers. The company still focuses on soil stabilization, excavating and grading, in addition to the installation of utilities that are included on a site. Handling all of the work from the beginning is important for Kuesel and its customers.
“Our claim to fame is our execution in grading and excavating,” said Michael. “We show up at a site and do everything until it is ready for vertical construction. We can handle anything in-house from a one-day job to a $10-million-plus project, either way there is a Kuesel Excavating truck showing up every day. We’re adaptable and that makes us competitive. Approximately 90 percent of our business is for repeat customers, so I think they appreciate it as well.”
One of the newest additions to Kuesel’s fleet, a Komatsu intelligent Machine Control D61PXi dozer from Roland Machinery Company and Sales Rep Jim Evans, has helped the company finish its work faster.
“We were so excited to get an intelligent Machine Control dozer that it didn’t even come by the shop when we bought it, instead we took it right to the jobsite,” recalled Michael’s son and Equipment Manager Matt Steiniger. “We had used Topcon aftermarket systems on many of our dozers, but the D61PXi is on another level. It’s a huge step forward – not just for us, but for our industry.”
“Using the automated blade control from first cut to final grade has made a big difference,” added Jeff. “We don’t tear up as much dirt, and the undercarriage lasts longer because of it. It’s truly a great addition to our fleet.”
The D61PXi was Kuesel’s first experience with intelligent Machine Control products, but the company already had several pieces of Komatsu equipment from Roland, including seven excavators (three PC300s, two PC228USLCs, a PC360 and a PC490) and a couple of HM400 articulated trucks.
“Komatsu makes great machines,” said Michael. “They are reliable, cost-efficient and they last. We know that our Komatsu equipment is going to produce for us.”
The company’s satisfaction with Komatsu is matched by its relationship with Roland.
“We have a significant fleet of equipment from Roland that we either own or rent,” noted Jeff. “As we’ve expanded our territory, Roland has been there to help us schedule maintenance, rent machines and make sure we have what we need. It’s a trusted relationship we appreciate.”
The company’s leaders value the role that Roland plays in helping it stay on schedule with complex projects.
”Roland is able to address additional equipment needs swiftly as well as provide on-site technical and mechanical support for our equipment,” noted Jeff.
Delivering quality results
Kuesel Excavating has a job underway in Wentzville, Missouri, a 1.1 million-square-foot project for a production plant. Kuesel performed the full complement of grading and soil stabilization services. The contract also included significant utility installation, including sanitary sewer and the relocation of both the force main and water main.
“We are happy for work like this, and we also know that we earned it because we’ve performed in the past,” said Michael. “We are dedicated to delivering quality results for our customers. That’s our plan going forward. We want to continue to deliver for our customers and grow with them. If we can accomplish that, I think we’ll continue to succeed.”