Komatsu loaders' “reliability is outstanding”
Seventy-six years ago, L.A. (Lon Alvoyd) Fuller bought out a business partner and founded Fuller Construction. Based from his home in Amarillo, Fuller performed earthwork services with a specialty in building terraces. Seven decades later, his grandsons are building on the legacy he left with a multifaceted company that continues to do earthwork as well as other services.
“We call ourselves a highway contractor,” said Quality Control Manager Jason Fuller. “From an earthwork standpoint, we build ponds, commercial building pads and other items. We also install heavy utilities such as large water lines, sewer pipe and lift stations. Basically, if it’s underground or otherwise site-related, we take care of it.”
Jason is one of four grandsons who now run the day-to-day operations for L.A. Fuller and Sons. He and his brothers, Josh, Jonas and Jared, each have specific roles. Jason takes care of quality control; Josh handles estimating, procurement and finance; Jonas is a senior project manager; and Jared directs human resources.
“Honestly, we don’t put much stock in titles,” explained Josh. “What we believe in is working together to ensure the company’s success. Our grandfather, father and uncle built a good foundation for us, and we continue to work hard every day to build on it.”
All are sons of Mike Fuller, who along with his brother Mark, joined their father, L.A., full time in the business in the 1970s, prompting the name change to L.A. Fuller and Sons. Today, Mike is a consultant for the company and remains closely involved in operations. Mark passed away several years ago, and his son, Dustin, is now the head of safety operations.
“The boys grew up in the business just like Mark and I did,” said Mike. “He and I worked summers and college breaks, then came on board full time after college. At that time, the focus largely remained on earthwork, and the company was still relatively small. I think there were about 10 employees.”
The number of workers increased dramatically during the 1980s, starting early in the decade when the Fullers fired up an asphalt plant, which led to paving projects. The company now makes several hot and cold mixes, as well as stabilized base, pre-coat rock and other combinations to meet customer specifications. Jason’s son, Chris, works full time at the asphalt plant, representing the fourth generation in the firm.
In 1986, the Fullers bought a utility company that added another division to L.A. Fuller and Sons. More recently, the organization began a crushing division. A sister company, Alpha Pavement, provides asphalt repair and maintenance, such as sealcoating, patching and striping.
“Multiple services allow us to work both as a prime and a subcontractor,” said Jonas. “It also gives us the opportunity to provide a full site package or break services out and do just a dirt, utility or paving project. We’re willing to do whatever is best for our customers. That’s probably why we have a long list of repeat business.”
L.A. Fuller and Sons’ projects fall into multiple categories, including residential, commercial and governmental. The residential and commercial jobs often involve the earthwork and paving division working in conjunction with the utility division. Crews from the first group build roads, prepare sites and install utilities on new residential developments. On commercial jobs, they also perform similar work, as well as parking lot construction.
“As far as highway work goes, we don’t build bridges; but we do perform embankment and approach construction, put down base material, install utilities and provide asphalt paving,” noted Josh. “We typically stay in our own district and prime or subcontract, depending on the project.”
Several jobs keep crews busy
Recent assignments have included site construction for a commercial building in Amarillo that saw L.A. Fuller and Sons move close to 50,000 yards of dirt, perform stabilization, and put down nearly 100,000 tons of flex-base, hot-mix asphalt for parking. It installed junction boxes and conduit under the building slab as well.
L.A. Fuller and Sons also worked on two separate state highway projects in Amarillo, including a bridge widening that called for moving more than 100,000 yards of earth for embankments. It installed storm sewer and put down approximately 8,000 tons of asphalt. A second job involved underpass turnaround construction and paving.
“Typically, we have 15-20 jobs open at any time,” said Jared. “We have two utility crews; roughly 10 dirt crews; one hot-mix crew; and a couple more that can do dirt work, paving or utilities, depending on the need. Currently, we have nearly 105 people on staff, including many key employees who have been here for 25 years or more. In some cases, their kids and grandkids work or have worked here. We believe that longevity, along with dedication, hard work and loyalty, play a critical role in our success.”
Trust in Komatsu, Kirby-Smith
Approximately five years ago, L.A. Fuller and Sons started looking to replace its aging wheel loaders. Working with Kirby-Smith Machinery, Inc. and Territory Manager Britt Stubblefield, it added Komatsu WA250, WA270, WA320 and WA380 wheel loaders to its fleet.
“Britt and Kirby-Smith presented a package that highlighted the value they and Komatsu could provide,” said Jason. “Price was important, but we also took maintenance and service into account. We like the ability to track idle time with KOMTRAX, and that Kirby-Smith handles scheduled maintenance through Komatsu CARE on our Tier 4 machines. That’s a great value, and when we had some machines pass the 2,000-hour mark, we purchased extended coverage through our Product Support Rep, Shane Westbrook. We trust Britt, Shane and Kirby-Smith to back up what they say. They are honest and fair to work with; and we appreciate that because it fits with our values.”
“We use the Komatsu loaders in a variety of situations, including backfilling, moving pipe, feeding crushers and even doing demolition work. Every one of our crews has one,” added Josh. “The reliability is outstanding, and that’s critical to us because if a loader is down, it often means the crew and the job are, too.”
L.A. Fuller and Sons also notes the versatility of its Komatsu PC200LC and PC300LC excavators, which are used for digging and compacting trenches with buckets and rollers. Additionally, the company recently added a Vögele 5200-2i paver and Hamm rollers.
“Our quality of work really improved with the Vögele paver,” said Josh. “We compared it to other brands, and it won.”
Expansion in certain areas
The brothers say it’s not likely that L.A. Fuller and Sons will offer additional services, but they don’t rule out growth in certain areas of the business. Specifically, expanding its material-supply operations is on the agenda. The company currently recycles asphalt and concrete and crushes caliche and hard aggregates to make products ranging from half-inch gravel to riprap.
Mike notes a few things that have helped the company prosper and will continue to serve as the driving forces going forward.
“Hard work, strong ethics and honesty have all played roles in our success,” he said. “Another is perseverance. My dad lived through some tough times and kept battling. He passed his values on to Mark and I, and I have tried to instill those in the next generation as well. Finally, we give credit to God. He’s blessed us greatly, and we thank Him every day.”