“‘(The D61PXi) takes all of the guesswork out of a job”
Josh and Darin Spielman learned the construction industry from their dad, Guy Spielman, who handled a range of projects. When the recession of the late 2000s swept across the country, the Spielmans were forced to look elsewhere for work. After moving to other sectors, they continued to dream of running their own company again.
“Dad was a one-man show, and I began tagging along with him when I was 12,” recalled Josh. “When the economy took a hit, his business dried up. I started working on wind turbine projects and eventually became a foreman. I figured with as much as I was handling for someone else, it was time I did it for myself.”
In 2015, Josh started Spielman Excavating, LLC, and recruited his younger brother, Darin, who was operating a dirt work company at the time. It was the realization of a lifelong pursuit for Guy, who passed away from cancer in 2016.
“He always wanted another company,” said Josh. “He was getting sick when we started, although he was still around and helping out as much as he could. This was his dream, and I am happy that he was able to see it finally happen.”
Today, Josh and Darin share ownership of the firm. In just four years, the business has grown to 14 employees with a focus on residential development in and around Sioux Falls, mainly digging foundations and connecting utilities.
“The majority of our projects involve digging a basement and bringing in the water and sewer lines from the road,” explained Josh. “After the foundation has been poured, we backfill and prep the site for sod installation.”
Building a reputation
From the beginning, Spielman Excavating’s goals have been aggressive – and the company has delivered.
“When we started out, I set a target of digging 100 basements a year, and people thought I was crazy,” recalled Josh. “We dug 37 in our first year, 67 in 2017 and last year, we completed 129. We’re already close to 100 again this summer.
“Things are booming here, which is great,” he continued. “We’ve developed some good relationships with the bigger builders in the area, and word has spread about us. I know that the market will cool off eventually; however, for now it seems like every house built is sold right away.”
Josh attributes two things to the company’s success with area builders: price and punctuality.
“I think we have a very fair price point for our services,” he noted. “Customers appreciate that and know we will deliver a great product. Also, when I say I’m going to do something or be somewhere – I follow through. That’s huge in this business. When the project stays on schedule, it makes everything easier.”
When it comes to lot sizes, the Spielmans take on a wide range. Last year the company handled a 14,000-square-foot property for a $4 million-plus home. Its standard projects are between 1,700 and 2,000 square feet.
While the main focus is residential construction, Spielman Excavating has added other services to its repertoire, including some minor road construction and commercial development.
“This year we are doing two projects for school districts, in addition to a couple of street jobs in Brandon,” said Josh. “We want to diversify a bit.”
Going big with Komatsu
When Spielman Excavating needs equipment it can rely on, it turns to Diesel Machinery, Inc., (DMI) and Sales Rep Dar Ellis for Komatsu products.
“We know what we will get from Komatsu and DMI,” said Josh. “The equipment is tough, and DMI is the best company we’ve worked with. When it comes to service, parts availability and rental equipment – they take care of us.”
The star of Spielman’s fleet is a Komatsu PC238USLC tight-tail-swing excavator, said Josh.
“When we work close to another house or fence, we can sit directly next to it and dig,” explained Josh. “It has a lot of power, and it’s very balanced. It’s done everything we’ve asked it to.”
“We use our PC360 for commercial projects and basements,” said Josh. “We can do two basements on one tank of fuel, and we recently finished a job in just three hours that we thought would take all day.”
Focus on new technology
In order to achieve maximum efficiency, the Spielman brothers look for any advantages available. Komatsu’s intelligent Machine Control technology is at the top of their list.
“We purchased the D61PXi dozer about two years ago, and it’s been great,” shared Darin. “It takes all of the guesswork out of a job. The dozer saved us nearly three days on a parking lot project. I was moving dirt so fast that I needed a second machine to get it out of my way.”
Both Darin and Josh expect to add more intelligent Machine Control equipment in the future. The production gains and ease of use have won over even the toughest critics in their company.
“It’s the wave of the future,” noted Darin. “We have some old-school operators; and once they got a little training and saw the technology in action, they were sold. They want to run the intelligent Machine Control equipment.”
After meeting its initial goals, Spielman Excavating is planning for the next phase.
“We have a formula that works very well,” said Josh. “We will grow where it makes sense. Right now, we are looking to be the general contractor on jobs, and we are aiming for more demolition and site-development contracts. Those are two natural growth areas, and I think we can be successful there.”