Business: Triple-B Excavating Ltd.
In business since: 2001
Location: Chilliwack, British Columbia
Doosan machine: DX190W-5 wheel excavator
Doosan dealer: Westerra Equipment
Growing up in families long associated with the construction industry certainly had an impact on contractors Tom DeJong and Mike Macura Jr. While the two men live more than 3,000 miles apart, they both followed in their fathers’ footsteps, helped along the way by a legacy of positive direction and good will.
To establish their own construction firms, the men implemented strategic plans that held onto the best of family traditions while creating a unique business model to best fit today’s marketplace. As they looked for new opportunities to grow their companies, both discovered the many benefits of Doosan® construction equipment.
Family history in agriculture opens new doors for second-generation contractor
The DeJong family’s connection to the dairy industry began on a farm in southeastern British Columbia. Ted DeJong milked cows for years before going into the excavating business and developing a successful niche working for dairy farmers throughout the Fraser Valley, the milk production capital of the province.
Ted’s son Tom joined his father’s business after graduating from high school in 1993 and worked there full-time until the end of 2000. The next year he started his own company – Triple-B Excavating in Abbotsford. The family’s long history with agriculture helped him build a clientele of dairy farmers who regularly hire him for jobs that include ditch cleaning, building lagoons, drainage, land leveling and new construction.
“Our strong ties to the dairy industry played an important role in getting my company off to a good start,” Tom DeJong says. “Even though other markets were tougher to break into, I wanted to have the ability to handle a wider range of work. That required me to take a different approach to equipment than my father had operating his business.”
When DeJong started his own company, he often shared equipment with his father. But once he saw that he could expand his business beyond dairy farms, he began renting and then eventually buying larger machines, including a 15-ton excavator, three 21-ton excavators and a dozer.
“Once my first excavator and the dozer were both productive, the decision to add a third machine was easier. By keeping those machines busy, I was able to generate the cash flow necessary to cover the third unit,” he says. “I have used that strategy ever since.”
DeJong’s plan for renting, buying and selling equipment is based on his intuition, his ability to forecast the future workload and his evaluation of which machines are the best fit.
“If we get busy, the first thing I look at is whether to rent or purchase the right equipment to handle the projects,” he says. “I want to play the market for a short time to see if the work materializes because to rent a machine for a month is almost like making three or four payments for a new one. Renting could cost me $12,000 a month compared to a $3,000 payment on a new machine.”
If DeJong knows he has several months of work, he will buy a machine. “Then I will use the money I make during those few months to float me through if business slows down,” he says. “If things really go sideways, I will sell one of my older machines.”
The larger equipment helped DeJong expand his business into non-agricultural applications. He does residential, commercial and municipal projects such as site preparation, demolition, new construction and ditch cleaning.
DeJong’s focus is to make sure that he never has to turn down work because he doesn’t have the right equipment available.
“That’s why I have no problem renting or buying a machine if the work is there or if I can see it coming,” he says. “I know that philosophy isn’t for everyone, but it sure works for me.”
His newest excavator, a Doosan® DX190W-5 wheel model, is playing an important role in his ditchcleaning business – work he does for more than 100 dairy farm customers and several municipalities. DeJong considers equipping the excavator with a 60-inch ditching bucket the ideal combination for cleaning ditches. The DX190W-5 wheel excavator has a maximum reach of 30 feet (at ground level), and a maximum digging depth of 18 feet 4 inches.
“The maximum travel speed of almost 22 miles per hour allows us to get from one digging location to another very efficiently,” he says. “Another key feature is the two-piece boom, which allows us to reach out and dig further. I would not want a wheel excavator without a two-piece boom.”
The DX190W-5 was purchased from Westerra Equipment, the local Doosan construction equipment dealer, with assistance from territory manager Darren Sabatino. DeJong says the excavator “is smooth to operate, with very precise controls. The comfortable, operator-friendly cab is superior to other excavators we have tried. Overall, it’s a really good machine.”
Business: Macura Excavating
In business since: 2013
Location: North Grafton, Massachusetts
Doosan machines: DX140LCR and two DX225LC-3 crawler excavators; DL200-3 and DL2505 wheel loaders
Doosan dealer: Equipment East
For more than three decades, the Macura name has been well known throughout the Metro-Boston construction industry. Mike Macura Sr. had a long career in residential and commercial site work, especially concrete foundation projects. More recently, Mike Jr. has benefited from the family connection while taking his three-year-old company in a much different direction.
“Our name was well known thanks to the work of my father,” says the younger Macura. “I was able to piggyback on some of his long-time relationships. That made it easier to break into the business. But right from the start, I wanted to operate a different type of company. My focus has always been on commercial projects in various industries in lieu of residential.”
Macura’s plan began to take shape when he left home to study engineering at Penn State University. After receiving his degree, he spent seven years as a construction manager. That experience was invaluable. “It made the transition into running my own firm easier than I expected it would be,” he says.
Working for a large construction firm allowed Macura to build a job from the ground up and handle subcontracting work as well as learn the ins and outs of the industry – how to plan, bid, execute and close jobs; knowledge of all the project controls; and how to communicate with people and settle disputes.
“That really helped me when I jumped to the other side of the fence,” he says. “Even though my role was different, I knew how the game is played. That enabled me to do a better job of knowing how to do things correctly the first time.”
Macura’s strategy for building his business focused on finding the right size of jobs that he could complete efficiently and profitably.
“Over time, this is one area where I have made some improvements,” he says. “I learned the hard way not to take on work that is not going to be profitable, such as small residential jobs. At times I tried to do any type of project and paid the price. When I was concerned about maintaining a volume of work, I panicked and took on some work that I should have avoided. I realized that sometimes it is better to be sitting at the office and waiting for the next job rather than taking on a job that I came to regret.”
Another thing Macura learned as he grew his business is to look for equipment that is productive with good pricing, warranty and dealer support. Initially, he rented a number of different brands of excavators and wheel loaders, including Doosan® machines from Equipment East, the local dealer. When he had the ability to purchase equipment, he looked at products from all the major manufacturers.
“I was originally attracted to Doosan because of its dealer support, financing options and warranty. Now that I own five Doosan units, I know for a fact that they are all quality products at reasonable prices. Fuel efficiency is one area where the machines are superior. That affects the bottom line on every job.
“I would not be where I am today without the support of Equipment East, especially Dan Clifford, who has been a great friend to the Macura family for many decades,” he says.
His current lineup of Doosan machines includes a DX140LCR crawler excavator, two DX225LC-3 crawler excavators, a DL200-3 wheel loader and a DL250-5 wheel loader.
“Investing in these five machines has allowed us to be competitive and grow the business,” Macura says. “If I would have purchased five similar machines from some other manufacturers, we would not be competitive. This equipment has been very good for the company.”