Utility Contractor

JUL-AUG 2018

As the official magazine of NUCA, Utility Contractor presents the latest information affecting every aspect of the utility construction industry, including technological advancements, safety issues, legislative developments and instructional advice.

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26 Utility Contractor | July/August 2018 site package price, as well as for each individual service. It's our preference to do all we can, but we're more than happy to break out items and do just an earthwork, utility or concrete job." Bret Barnhart Excavating primarily covers central and northeastern Oklahoma. It ventures farther when required to do so under its nine- year federal contract that includes numerous jobs for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. "We rebuilt parks in Kansas and completed work at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma City," noted Barnhart. "The contract calls for us to do all types of assignments. The Corps has had us lay riprap, rehab dams, run utilities and maintain channels and lakes. At one time, the contract made up a fairly significant portion of our business, but it's now down to around 10 percent and will end in a couple of years." In total, the company handles roughly 150 jobs per year. Barnhart said those in the $300,000 to $500,000 range are the company's "sweet spot." Approximately 20 employees help complete projects on time and budget, including key individuals such as Superintendents Justin Delcoure, Weston McCaskey and Larry Taylor; Foreman Garrett McCaskey; and Estimator/Project Manager Chris Drenner. "My name is on the door, but we make business decisions together," Barnhart emphasized. "Those guys are part of a core group that's the foundation of the company. They pour their hearts and souls into it, and I have great respect for them and their opinions." Increased Production Throughout the past few years, Bret Barnhart Excavating invested heavily in technology, including GPS systems for its machinery. The company added two intelligent Machine Control D51i dozers from Komatsu, a NUCA National Silver Partner. Barnhart acquired the equipment with the help of NUCA member company Kirby-Smith Machinery and Territory Manager Peyton Chatham. "We got the first one roughly three years ago and noticed an increase in production and efficiency right away," said Delcoure, who oversees dirt operations. "The accuracy is spot-on, and we aren't wasting materials due to overcutting. The technology is easy to use – download a file to the machine, and you're ready to roll in just a few minutes. The visibility to the blade is exceptional; they are quiet and fuel-efficient." Barnhart Excavating added the D51i dozers to a fleet that already consisted of a standard D65 dozer as well as PC160, PC200 and PC270 excavators. "The first new machine I bought was the PC160 in 2008, and other than routine services and maintenance items, we have done nothing to it," Barnhart said. "That's been the case with each Komatsu machine we added. If we're not moving dirt or putting pipe in the ground, we're not making money. Komatsu's reliability gives us peace-of-mind. We know that they will start and perform every day without costing us a lot of downtime." The company handles routine maintenance internally, calling on Kirby-Smith Machinery for help as needed. "Peyton, Kirby and Komatsu have all been terrific," affirmed Barnhart. "My relationship with Kirby-Smith goes back to the start of my business and beyond even, as my family has relied on Kirby for a very long time. I continue to count on them for sales and rentals, because I know I can trust Peyton and Kirby to deliver." Credit to Family Even though he's built the business himself, Barnhart still shares credit with the previous generations of his family for the company's success. "I thank them for giving me the values and work ethic needed to build a business like this," Barnhart stated. "I would not be where I am today without them – especially my dad – and what they passed down to me, including a strong emphasis on customer satisfaction." Barnhart intends to ensure that his business continues to provide that. "If we can keep the same margins and hire the right people, I'm not afraid to grow," Barnhart said. "I could see us doing larger street projects and even bridgework if that were the case, but if getting bigger means sacrificing quality, then I'm not interested. Steady expansion has been key for us, and I want that to continue." Site Work Superintendent Justin Delcoure finish grades a pad with one of Bret Barnhart Excavating's two Komatsu intelligent Machine Control D51i dozers. "We got the first one roughly three years ago and noticed an increase in production and efficiency right away," said Delcoure. "The accuracy is spot-on, and we aren't wasting materials due to overcutting."

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