“McManus was one of the first Komatsu users in this area’”
When Hurricane Rita hit Louisiana in 2005, it left substantial debris in its wake. At the time, McManus Construction, LLC was operating a landfill to dispose of materials collected through its construction and demolition (C&D) operations.
“The state asked if we would take in additional materials; and, for some time, we operated three sites,” recalled owner Sheldon McManus. “Two of them were at existing dirt pits that we ran, which have since been closed. The third was at the old sand pit located behind our headquarters. It’s still open, but it’s mainly back to its original intent of taking in C&D waste from our projects.”
The landfill is just one piece of the overall pie that comprises McManus Construction, which also operates five material pits and is one of southwest Louisiana’s largest civil contractors. Founded in 1970 by Sheldon and his father, Jessie, the firm is approaching its 50th anniversary. Sheldon bought Jessie’s share of the business when he retired, and now Sheldon and his son, Bryan, own and operate the Lake Charles-based firm.
“Expansion continued to the point where we can now provide an extensive package of services, the majority of which are selfperformed,” said Bryan. “That includes clearing, mass earthwork, drainage systems and paving. Our projects run from small residential jobs to large governmental, institutional and commercial undertakings. They can range from a few thousand to multimillions of dollars in value.”
That was not the case in McManus Construction’s early days when Sheldon and Jessie focused primarily on clearing for new housing sites. “Builders were having a hard time getting fill dirt for the pads because the trucking companies were busy with bigger projects, and they asked us if we were interested in supplying it,” Sheldon recalled. “Dad and I found a pit and bought a dragline and a couple of trucks. That was our catalyst for expansion.”
Concrete paving added to the mix
By the time Bryan joined the company full time in the mid-1980s, the firm had 25 employees and was offering complete site packages as a subcontractor to commercial and industrial developers. “Everything except putting up the building became our responsibility,” said Bryan. “Utility work, such as sanitary sewer and water, as well as asphalt paving are about the only aspects we sub out. Our crews do the rest, including installing storm drain.”
In the early 1990s, a large paving contractor, who Jessie had worked with prior to opening his own business, won the bid for a project on Interstate 10 near Lake Charles. That contractor hired McManus Construction to remove old concrete and pipe and excavate the site. Upon his retirement, the contractor asked the McManuses if they were interested in adding concrete paving to their resume, and they agreed to take on that service.
“That move really made us a full-service contractor, and since then we have had the ability to work as either a general or as a sub that offers all or a portion of our services,” Sheldon noted. “Typically, we have four to five sizeable projects going at any one time. We also do maintenance in refineries in addition to driveways, house pads, small road patching, ditch cleaning and other fill-in types of jobs.”
One of the first Komatsu users in southwest Louisiana
McManus Construction recently returned to Interstate 10 as a subcontractor, putting in storm drain as part of a new frontage road a few miles west of Lake Charles. A crew dug trenches and set pipe and structures with PC360LC-11 and PC240LC-10 excavators, then backfilled using a D39PX dozer. These machines are part of a fleet of more than 20 pieces of Komatsu equipment that have been acquired through the years from H&E Equipment Services. The firm’s newest units were purchased with the help of Sales Rep Donovan Dupuis.
“McManus was one of the first Komatsu users in this area,” said Fleet Manager James Bedgood, who joined the company 15 years ago after working at H&E for nearly 20 years. “I remember calling on McManus to service their original D58 dozers when I was at H&E. That was in the late 80s, and they continued to add more pieces.
We have developed a good, aggressive maintenance program that, in addition to Komatsu’s quality, allowed us to keep many of our machines long term. We have some PC300s with more than 12,000 hours that are still as productive as the day we got them.”
Newer machines include the Tier 4 PC360LC and PC240LC excavators as well as D61PX-23 and D39PX-23 dozers. “Reliability stands out with Komatsu,” said Bedgood. “We know that our equipment will start and run all day, every day. I also like the commonality across the Komatsu line. For instance, the starting system is the same on a dozer as on an excavator. Komatsu stays with what works, and it makes our maintenance tasks easier.”
Bedgood utilizes KOMTRAX to research error codes and track hours, idle time and more. “If I’m out of the shop, I check it through the app on my phone. It’s a great tool that allows us to be even more proactive regarding service. H&E is handling that on the Tier 4 machines through Komatsu CARE for the first 2,000 hours or three years, which is a nice added value. For older machines, we rely on H&E for parts – they are excellent about having them on hand.”
Sheldon added, “H&E and our former Sales Rep Dan LaVoie are the reasons we considered Komatsu in the first place. They took care of our parts needs for another brand when we had trouble getting them from the dealer. The relationship blossomed, and through time, we have bought other machinery from H&E, including Takeuchi. When Dan retired, Donovan took over and has continued the legacy of outstanding service.”
Staff rises to the challenge
The McManuses are still helping some of the same clients they have assisted for years. “They trust us to get the job done right,” said Bryan. “Some are willing to wait for us to get to them. I believe that says a lot about who we are and the value we place on customer satisfaction.”
Sheldon added that another reason McManus Construction has been successful is its employees. “We believe our staff is the best in Calcasieu Parish, including longtime, valued members such as Office Manager Debbie Bushnell. Our field hands are likely the most experienced, too. It seems like we take on quite a number of challenging jobs, and they always rise to the occasion. Dad, Bryan and I have been and are responsible for the company’s direction, and we’ve been able to guide it and expand it thanks to significant employee contributions.”