“Our Komatsu equipment is awesome”
As a fifth-generation well driller in the late 1980s, Brad Malley built a sterling reputation through his central Michigan company, Brad Malley Well Drilling. As a result, customers routinely asked him to perform other services, so he started Malley Construction, Inc. in 1991 to handle smaller dirt jobs. Soon after, he jumped into the residential housing market and began building his construction company.
“The decision to expand was due to a few factors, but mainly because our customers wanted us to handle those projects,” said Brad. “We had a lot of people asking us to bid jobs, but we couldn’t because we didn’t have the manpower. So, we decided to grow. That move put us on the path to where we are today.”
After a decade of success in residential construction, Malley again took a chance and began doing commercial work, mainly parking lots, pad construction and utility installation. Today, that area accounts for nearly 70 percent of the company’s construction business.
“We’ve been lucky,” said Brad. “We diversified to meet our customers’ needs in a way that worked for us. I also think that increasing in size and scope has kept me excited and fresh by providing new challenges. I enjoy dirt work; it was something I’ve always wanted to do. Plus, I still own the well-drilling business, a modular-home construction company and we have approximately 25 trucks that haul for us. Fortunately, each area thrived as we’ve expanded, and that’s great.”
Malley says hard work and good employees have fueled the company’s success. “We wouldn’t have had the opportunity to build the business unless we delivered solid results at each level and had customers who wanted us to branch out. There isn’t a secret to our success, just a good, solid work ethic and delivering a high-quality product for our customers. We want to make sure everything’s right for them.”
The firm made its name in the commercial side by specializing in site-construction projects in the 6,000- to 50,000-square-feet range. The company takes pride in its ability to transform a jobsite from a grass field and prepare it for vertical construction without the need to sub out work.
“We can do everything in-house to get a site ready for a structure to be built,” noted Brad. “Our customers appreciate that because they know who is taking care of their jobs – it’s always us. We like it because it gives us complete control, and we aren’t waiting for or depending on others to do a good job. From excavation to utility construction, we handle it.”
Malley Construction also recently found a niche in the $1 million to $2 million road-construction contracts within a 60-mile radius of its Mt. Pleasant office.
On the company’s latest project, a 3.5 mile stretch of Business Highway 127 in Alma, the firm is performing one of its largest undertakings. It milled and hauled 10,000 tons of the existing highway; removed the shoulders and laid new ones; installed 15 cross culverts underneath the road; and graded the entire stretch, which included adding a “super elevation” to a large curve in the roadway, to ready it for paving.
“We have done more road construction recently, but mainly on city and municipal streets,” noted Brad. “This was our largest highway project, and we’re happy with it. We hope to do more of these in the future.”
Technology “pays for itself”
As Malley Construction has expanded, so too has its investment in GPS technology. It began using aftermarket, grade-control systems on its dozers for excavation projects with great results in time and material savings. Last year, it purchased a Komatsu intelligent Machine Control D51PXi dozer from CEC and Area Manager Craig Williams, and those savings increased again.
“Today, you need some sort of GPS technology or you can’t compete,” admitted Brad. “We had good returns with the GPS systems, and I was a little hesitant to pull the trigger on the D51PXi, but wow, am I glad I did. The results have been amazing. We’re at least twice as fast with our D51PXi compared to our D39 with an aftermarket system on it. We save time, we’re always on-grade and we use our crews in better ways because we don’t need someone checking grade all the time.”
While Malley needed some convincing to get his first D51PXi in 2016, he didn’t need a push to purchase his second this year.
“They pay for themselves quickly,” he stated. “They have been totally worth it.”
While any owner can appreciate time and material savings, the people sitting inside the dozers have also fallen for the D51PXi.
“Everything works together so well on the D51PXi, it’s amazing,” said Foreman Reggie Smith. “I was blown away by the speed at which I can finish grade. It actually runs better at max speed. It carries better, the grade is smooth and you finish faster.”
In addition to solid performance results, the technology was an easy sell to the operators because of how simple it was to learn and implement. Brad’s son, Jake, has assumed the lead on the technology side of the company, and says it took only one demonstration to win over the crew.
“The guys know I am not an operator by any means,” joked Jake. “At first, they didn’t really trust the technology until I jumped in, put it in third gear and cut a grade for 400 feet in one pass. From then on, they’ve really taken to it.”
Komatsu and CEC
In addition to the intelligent Machine Control dozers, Malley Construction also turns to CEC and Williams for other Komatsu equipment. The company has six Komatsu excavators – a PC138USLC, PC170LC, PC228USLC, PC308LC, PC360LC and a PC490LC – as well as several Komatsu WA320 and WA380 wheel loaders.
“Our Komatsu equipment is awesome,” shared Brad. “The wheel loaders are great and steady, and the excavators are very powerful. We really love the PC138 and PC228 for their tight tail swing. We can get into small spaces, and we don’t worry about running the back end into anything.”
In addition to providing solid equipment, Brad also appreciates services like Komatsu CARE, through which CEC provides complimentary scheduled maintenance for the first three years or 2,000 hours of operation on Tier 4 machines.
“With a fleet of nearly 60 machines, having CEC come out and take care of scheduled maintenance on our newer pieces has really lightened the load on our mechanics,” said Brad. “It’s the little things that CEC does that keep me loyal. We have a great relationship with Craig that goes back to the 90s. Whenever I need anything, he’s my first call. It’s a relationship that I trust and value.”
More growth ahead
Diversification has made Malley Construction prosperous, and Brad is anticipating that more of it will yield the same results in the future.
“It’s my theory that if you aren’t growing, you’re dying,” he said. “We are going to continue to increase our size to a certain extent, and there is a lot of opportunity for us to do that. We’ve put ourselves in a strong position to succeed, especially with the road projects we’ve completed. I think both the state and federal governments are eager to pass an infrastructure budget that will create a lot of work. If that happens, we’d look to expand again to get some of those contracts. No matter what, we will continue to work hard and deliver for our customers. If we do that, we’ll be successful.”