“Komatsu CARE program that comes with the Tier 4 machines is fantastic”
Few business owners can say they got their start by quitting a job, only to have their previous employer help them open a new business. Chris Parchman can make that claim.
“I left Paul Moore Construction and was hired by a different company, but that didn’t pan out,” recalled Chris, Owner and President of Cumberland City, Tenn.-based Parchman Construction Company. “After that, I called Paul Moore of Paul Moore Construction, and he asked me to come back to work for him, but I told him I wanted to start my own business. He said he would help, and that he had some jobs for me. I subbed my first three projects from him while I was getting a contractor’s license.”
The first job involved putting in sewer lines, followed by two water-line assignments in Nashville that took nearly three years to complete. Once he earned his contractor’s license, he started bidding public-works projects in Houston County where he grew up.
“I thought this was the best place because I knew the lay of the land,” said Chris. “I probably laid upward of 100 miles of water line in Houston County when I worked for Paul Moore. I could, and still can, drive down the road, look at a site and know whether it’s rocky, wet or will have other challenges.”
Adds general excavation
The first project awarded to Parchman Construction was laying a high-pressure gas line. Chris and a small crew completed it, despite never tackling that type of utility job before.
“I knew sewer, water and storm, but not gas, so that was quite an experience,” said Chris. “We finished it and learned a thing or two. Soon after, we landed a couple of sizeable sewer contracts in Camden, and things just clicked from there. Because my background involved putting in utilities, I focused primarily on that area.”
Utilities remained at the forefront of Parchman Construction’s service list until roughly six years ago. Chris now describes the business as more of a general-excavation company.
“As the saying goes, ‘if it has to do with dirt, we’re involved,’” Chris stated. “We offer clearing, mass excavation, road building and more. Approximately 90 percent of our projects are hard-bid, public works jobs for municipalities, counties and the DOT. Adding general excavation gave us the opportunity to self-perform more of the tasks, which I believe provides a real advantage.”
Chris was somewhat familiar with excavation work before adding that to his business. Utility projects often involve some ancillary earthwork, and he grew up helping his dad, Bobby, with the dirt business that he owned. Bobby mainly did custom jobs for private individuals such as leveling house pads and yards, as well as clearing. Bobby, in turn, was part of Chris’ team for several years until he passed away.
“Dad taught me a lot about business and equipment. He was a good mentor,” Chris reminisced. “It was great having him here. Dad treated the business as if it was his own. His dedication, along with that of many other staff members, has made Parchman Construction successful. They deserve a big tip of the cap for their efforts.”
The company’s staff now numbers close to 20 and includes longtime and key members such as Superintendents Russell Clark and Eddie Stone, Secretary Holly Blair, Estimator Tim Settles and Foreman Leigh Wilde.
General or sub
Chris estimates that his business has four to five jobs going at a time, usually within a two-hour radius of Cumberland City, an area which includes both Clarksville and Nashville. A crew worked on Interstate 24 near Clarksville with a $1.5 million DOT project to widen the intersection at Exit 1. Parchman Construction was the general contractor, installing nearly 7,000 feet of utility lines as well as doing the earthwork for widening and subgrade prep. It subbed out the paving.
The company provided similar services as a subcontractor just down the road at Exit 8 on a $2.5 million job that saw it move approximately 40,000 yards of dirt and put in upward of 10,000 feet of utilities. It was Parchman Construction’s largest project to date.
Loyal to Komatsu, Power Equipment
Chris is pleased with the relationship he has built with Power Equipment Company through his Komatsu equipment purchases. Their mutual history dates back to 1995 when Chris bought a PC200LC-6 excavator from Power Equipment that he continued to run until a few months ago when he believes it was struck by lighting and caught on fire.
“It was a sad day when that machine burned, because it was still very productive, even in tough applications such as running a grinder or hammer,” recalled Chris. “Other than general maintenance, we did nothing to it.
“I only knew one person who had a Komatsu when I got that PC200, and he called me after I bought it and asked how I liked it,” added Chris. “I told him it was tight, quick and more fuel-efficient compared to what I was running. He bought another Komatsu after our conversation, and some municipalities and other companies purchased Komatsus based on my recommendation.”
The productivity and reliability of that PC200LC-6 convinced Chris that Komatsu was his brand of choice. Today, he has older PC158USLC and PC220LC models, a PC210LC-11, two WA200PZ wheel loaders, a D65EX dozer and Komatsu skid steers. Chris calls on Power Equipment Company Sales Rep Matthew Spence for his equipment needs.
“I’m loyal to Komatsu,” said Chris. “Throughout the years, I kept acquiring more pieces without trading any, because I didn’t need to. The Komatsus last, without incurring significant downtime or repair costs. The excavators and wheel loaders give us good versatility to run buckets and attachments, and the dozer is great for mass and finish work. It can also push a hefty pile of trees and brush on clearing jobs. The PC210LC is our latest purchase, and we love it. It’s well-balanced, fuel-efficient, quick and responsive. Each Komatsu we purchase is better than the last.”
Parchman Construction is diligent about machine maintenance and appreciates that Komatsu takes a similar approach to service. “The Komatsu CARE program that comes with the Tier 4 machines is fantastic. Power Equipment does the services for the first three years or 2,000 hours. That takes a load off us, and if we need parts for our older machines, Power is great about having them on hand or getting them right away from Komatsu’s warehouse in Ripley. Matthew, Power and Komatsu across the board are super to work with.”
Heeds good advice
Chris shared one piece of advice that Paul Moore gave, which stuck with him: “Never get too big.”
“He told me there will be a lot of headaches, and you will lose money and customers because you can’t take care of them properly,” Chris recounted. “That fits in with what my dad advised when he said that you’re only as good as your word. If you let a customer down, your reputation will take a big hit.”
Chris has heeded their advice, but he hasn’t hesitated to expand under the right conditions.
“It’s pick and choose. Adding general excavation made sense. Going all out and doubling or tripling in size, doesn’t. We may add another crew, but at this point, I don’t see getting much bigger. I like where we came from, where we are and where we are going.”