"The intelligent Machine Control equipment is productive, accurate and has increased our efficiency tremendously.”
Gaylon Hammett has completed 30 years of full-time work for Hammett Excavation. He started in 1987 with his father, Harry, who founded the business in 1963 with one dozer.
“It stayed that way until I came on board, and then we added a second dozer,” said Gaylon. “My father’s focus was almost exclusively on soil conservation – waterway construction and building drop structures – with a few house pads here and there. We ran like that for a while after I joined him, but eventually branched out into additional services and markets.”
In its early days, Hammett Excavation primarily concentrated on the immediate area around its Dodd City, Texas, home base. Now, it operates in roughly a 100-mile radius that includes the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, Tulsa, Oklahoma City and all points in between.
Gaylon is Owner and President of the company, and his wife, Melody, is Business Manager. Their son, Kaleb, recently started full time for Hammett Excavation as a heavy-haul truck driver. Harry passed away nearly four years ago.
“Dad was a terrific mentor and taught me a lot about how to conduct business fairly,” said Gaylon. “He used to run an ad that said, ‘An honest hour’s work for an honest hour’s pay,’ and he always lived up to it. I believe that’s why he had such a good reputation and a lot of repeat business. We stand behind our work, and we believe that is what helps our business.”
Today, Hammett Excavation’s two main specialties are site prep for subdivisions and earthwork for landfill projects. For subdivisions, the company’s work involves anything related to moving large quantities of dirt.
“We provide a full site package on subdivisions, starting with clearing timber, if needed,” explained Gaylon. “That’s followed by mass excavation and grading; fine grading with GPS; cutting in new roads; and constructing house pads. The latter includes undercutting the pad five to eight feet for moisture conditioning. We then put down plastic and cover it with a one-foot layer of dirt, leaving it for the utility contractors to do their part. After roads are prepped, we stop for the curb and paving people to do their jobs. When they are done, we finish grade.”
On the landfill side, Hammett Excavation provides a turnkey project for cell construction, including pouring concrete for header banks.
“There is a three-stage certification process for landfill projects,” explained Gaylon. “We cut down to subgrade, then put a two-foot layer of clay over that and certify it. Another contractor puts down a geocomposite liner, and we follow by adding two feet of cover on top of it, and that is certified. From there, we install welded poly pipe and put in the leachate system. The third certification is at the end of construction.”
Hammett Excavation does some projects in the governmental, commercial and multifamily markets as well. It completed site work for a 330-home subdivision in Dallas where the company moved nearly 400,000 yards of dirt to build pads and prep subgrade for roads. It handled site prep for a Big Lots store in Durant, Okla., which involved moving more than one million yards of earth. It also performs the removal of overburden for several quarries on an ongoing basis.
“A few years after I came on board full time, we added scrapers and off-road trucks, which allowed us to take on bigger jobs,” reported Gaylon. “Many of our subdivision projects are done as a general contractor where we move the dirt and sub out the utilities and paving. We consult with our customers closely to provide whatever they need.”
Hammett Excavation now employs 104 hard-working, dedicated people. It’s a tight-knit group that supports one another and creates a family atmosphere, according to the Hammetts.
Komatsu, Kirby-Smith help build the business
Gaylon believes strongly in using GPS systems to move earth more efficiently, and he has equipped nearly every standard machine in his fleet with aftermarket systems, including Komatsu PC490LC, PC360LC and PC650 excavators. He also runs Komatsu intelligent Machine Control PC490LCi-11 excavators and a D65PXi-18 dozers with factory-integrated GPS systems.
“Even the scrapers are equipped with GPS,” noted Gaylon. “They are used for hogging mass quantities of dirt, then we switch to the D65i machines as we get closer to grade. They are fantastic for building pads and finish dozing on a wide variety of jobs. The PC490LCi excavators are great for trenching and even moving mass quantities of dirt. The fact that they won’t allow you to dig beyond the target elevation effectively eliminates overdigging and replacing material. I like the integrated system because it removes the masts and cables of the aftermarket products. The intelligent Machine Control equipment is productive, accurate and has increased our efficiency tremendously.”
Hammett Excavation began using Komatsu equipment close to nine years ago when it rented a few pieces from Kirby-Smith Machinery with the help of Territory Manager Chad Murphy. A large subdivision project prompted Gaylon to add machines of his own, so that’s when he purchased the excavators and trucks. Today, he runs several Komatsu HM400 articulated models.
“The trucks allow us to operate in wet conditions, which we encounter on almost every assignment,” said Gaylon. “They power through mud and just keep on going, even when other brands won’t. That ensures we remain productive. On nearly every jobsite we load them using the excavators, which have good power, are fuel-efficient, comfortable and easy to operate.”
Kirby-Smith Machinery takes care of scheduled maintenance for the first 2,000 hours or three years on the Tier 4 machines through the Komatsu CARE program.
“That’s a terrific, value-added service,” said Gaylon. “They call and tell us when a service is due, then come and do it on-site at a convenient time. Kirby-Smith tracks the machines through KOMTRAX, which we also use to retrieve valuable information such as hours, dump loads, fuel consumption and more. I appreciate everything Chad, Ed Kirby and the Kirby-Smith team have done, especially helping me out with some rental equipment and backing me during a rough time. They are a huge part of our success.”
Focused on efficiency
Hammett Excavation has grown considerably during the past few years, and the Hammetts say the future looks bright as well.
“The pace of growth was phenomenal,” remarked Melody. “Gaylon took an active approach to building the customer base and did an excellent job. Right now, we’re focused on doing what’s best for our clients.”
“Customers will drive where we go from here,” said Gaylon. “Our goal is to focus on further increasing our efficiency and providing the best service, on time and on budget.”