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Small Family Business Thrives in the Land of the Giants

Brothers Tom (L) and Mark Krutis with their mother, Teresa, who founded the company with her late husband Tom Krutis.
Krutis Excavating has 16 pieces of heavy equipment in its fleet, including a 321D LCR and other sizes of hydraulic excavators.

After 30 years, Krutis Excavating is going strong with ongoing projects from some of the biggest names in business.

Celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, Krutis Excavating, a second-generation family business with 20 employees in Linden, N.J., proves that you can maintain a small construction company and still capture regular work with big-time customers.

Krutis Excavating handles work for Citgo Petroleum, Nu Star Energy and Kinder Morgan, some of the biggest names in the energy industry, and recently finished repairs and restorations at several oil refineries damaged by Superstorm Sandy. Krutis was a natural to be called for the storm recovery work due to the company's long experience with the energy firms.

“We've had service contracts with three of the refineries for the past 20 years,” said Mark Krutis, president of the company. “Our refinery work is ongoing.”

Mark Krutis and his brother, Tom Krutis, vice president of the company, also have established long-running business ties with another giant, McDonald's Corp., which develops the chain of fast food restaurants.

Krutis Excavating recently finished yet another McDonald's project, its 23rd in New Jersey. Krutis has averaged two or three McDonald's per year for the past eight years. Their site work includes sewer installation, grading, retaining walls, paving, and concrete curbs and sidewalks.

Prepared to Succeed

The Krutis brothers have maintained the success of Krutis Excavating after taking the reins from their parents, Tom and Teresa, who founded the company.


“One of the jobs that sticks in my memory was our first tank field grading job at Citgo Petroleum. We moved all of our equipment to the site and worked seven days a week to complete the site prep work,” Mark Krutis recalled. “This was one of the first jobs over all the years that the entire family — Mom, Dad and our sister Sue — worked on the same site together.”

Although the family orientation has never been lost, the Krutis brothers knew they would have to adapt the business to keep it strong.

“One of the turning points for the company was 16 years ago when our father passed away and we had to really step up to keep things going with the loss of our boss and father,” Tom Krutis said. “We decided to break away from the housing market and go after more commercial and industrial projects, which led us to more challenging and profitable work.”

Helping make that possible, the company emphasizes safety and participates in ISNetworld, an organization that collects safety, procurement, sustainability, quality and regulatory information from contractors, verifies its accuracy and offers the information to corporations looking to connect with reliable contractors.

“This ISNetworld safety compliance qualifies us to work for the oil companies that we have contracts with,” Tom Krutis said. Krutis Excavating also is active on the board of the Association of Site Improvement Contractors (ASIC), a nonprofit group that provides members with group purchasing power for insurance. According to the ASIC Web site, “Our members are site improvement contractors with exceptionally well-run operations … By joining together, our combined premiums are significant enough to give us control and influence over our insurance prices, services and coverages.”

An Iron Partnership

Of course, success ultimately depends on high-quality job performance. Beyond having knowledgeable, hardworking crews, Mark Krutis stressed the importance of having the right equipment as a critical factor in getting jobs done efficiently.

Krutis Excavating has 16 pieces of heavy equipment in its fleet, most of them Cat machines. These include a 321D LCR and other sizes of hydraulic excavators, a D5K and several more track-type tractors, a few wheel loaders, a backhoe loader and a skid steer loader. Machines are chosen to fit particular jobs according their size and capacity.

“Everything is pretty much working every day,” Mark Krutis said. Since its founding Krutis Excavating has been relying on Foley Inc. for its Caterpillar equipment and the dealership's dependable service.

“The best thing about doing business with Foley Inc. is that everyone is there when you need them, every time,” Tom Krutis said.

Foley sales representative Warren Gonzalez understands the Krutis Excavating operations, and he works to find equipment with the proper fit, even in difficult circumstances.

For example, after Superstorm Sandy, Krutis Excavating needed a shear to aid in its cleanup projects, but the work tools were in high d mand and Foley did not have one in stock. Gonzalez found a shear that was available from another contractor, and Krutis Excavating quickly had the tool it needed.

Mark Krutis pointed to parts accessibility as strength of Foley's support system.

“We've tried other companies in the past, but we came back to Cat products. Even if they are not in stock, we can still get them in a very timely manner,” he said.

He also believes in the value of S.O.S. sampling, the fluid analysis program available from Foley that Krutis Excavating uses on all of its equipment to detect small issues before they grow into major problems. Krutis Excavating also uses Foley Inc. service technicians for large or highly technical equipment work.

“We call Dan Scaramella, our Foley customer support representative, to arrange anything we need done,” Mark Krutis said.

Recently, the company needed a hydraulic cylinder repaired.

“That cylinder job took only a day, and that was impressive,” Mark Krutis recalled. “Timely service is important because there is no tomorrow — our customers want everything done today, or at least as quickly as possible. And Foley Inc. helps make that doable.”

Krutis Excavating benefits from a solid foundation built over the decades, and the Krutis brothers appreciate their success.

“We are very proud that we kept the family business together and that we have kept the majority of our employees with us though all the ups and downs of the economy in the past few years,” Mark Krutis said. “The majority of our employees have been with us for 15 years or more, which is an major accomplishment in this industry.

“It's been a challenging 30 years,” he added. “Even with the passing of our father and sister, we still work together and deliver the quality workmanship that our dad built this business on. We have a great reputation for starting and finishing jobs on time and on budget.”

And probably will for a long time to come.

This story was reprinted with permission from PayDirt Magazine, Fall 2013 Issue.