Since 1958, the Como family has believed two things ensure Dan Como & Sons Inc. will continue to thrive: service and quality products. As the garden and landscape supply company sees its third generation working the business, it’s assured that focusing on those two things has proven successful.
“The two go hand-in-hand. We’ve spent a lot of time making products that fit our customers’ specifications and expectations,” said second-generation Co-Owner Dan Como Jr. of the Towaco-based company.
“We focus on consistency in everything we do. When a customer gets a product one day and comes back for more the next day, he expects it to be the same quality. That’s part of our commitment to customer service. My father, Dan Como Sr., taught us very early on that producing consistent-quality products and having great customer service is the key to having a successful business.”
Dan Jr. and his brother, Mike, have been involved with the company since they were very young. The two drove machinery and helped their dad and mom, Joyce, before eventually taking over the company in the 1980s. Mike handles product development, while Dan takes charge of sales. Their children have followed in the tradition and help run the family business. Dan’s son, Dan III, and daughter, Kimberly Camoia, along with Mike’s son, Mike Jr., and daughter, Ginger, also are part of the 11-member team and contribute much to the company’s success.
Increased Product Offerings
The company’s claim to fame is that it’s the oldest dealer, and now the largest, of topsoil in the 30- to 40-mi. radius it serves. It began screening topsoil in the mid-60s and that product is still a large part of Dan Como & Sons’ business. It’s since added two types of compost, and in 1978 began offering mulch at its 17-acre facility, which was originally Dan Como Sr.’s farm before he converted it into the business.
“We were the only mulch dealers in the area at the time,” Dan Jr. said. “Hardly anyone even knew what mulch was then, but it quickly caught on and became very popular in the area. For several years, we brought all our mulch in from the mills and other suppliers. Now, we’re making nearly all our own mulches with our own grinders. People bring us materials such as trees, wood chips and shrubs. We then turn them into our own mulch.”
Early on, Dan Como & Sons’ mulch selection was limited. Today, the company makes a wide variety, including single-, double- and triple-ground. The company also has a dye machine, which allows it to make red, black, brown and gold mulch. The facility also makes soft wood mulches used for play areas and playgrounds.
In addition to topsoil and mulch, Dan Como & Sons carries a large selection of landscape and mason supplies. They also are authorized Unilock and E.P. Henry dealers. Last year, Dan Como & Sons added a small concrete plant and concrete delivery truck.
“Adding products has been due in part to our customers’ needs, as well as a way to expand our market,” said Dan Jr. “We also have any amount they need. For instance, we sell mulch in bulk and we also carry it in bags. This year, we’re going to start bagging topsoil as well. In addition, we’re adding concrete to our list. Sometimes a homeowner or contractor only needs a small amount of concrete, a yard or two, and that’s the market we plan to serve. It’s all a way to give customers a choice of what they want.”
Komatsu Wheel Loaders Lower Operating Costs
Customers also have the choice of how they get the materials. Dan Como and & Sons will deliver or customers can come to the company’s facility to pick it up. If they’re picking up bulk materials, it’s likely they’ll be loaded by one of the company’s three Komatsu wheel loaders. The Comos’ most recent acquisition is a WA430-6, which they added to two Komatsu WA450-5 loaders purchased from Binder Machinery. Dan Como & Sons also demo’d a PC400LC-8 excavator recently.
“We were longtime users of a competitive brand, but our sales representative, Rob Fornini, convinced us to demo a Komatsu wheel loader,” recalled Dan Jr. “We tried it out for a few days, and called Rob back to say we’d take it. Komatsu has been our loader of choice since. Our belief in quality products extends to our machinery, and Komatsu has the best on the market.”
Como explained that Komatsu has an extensive list of features that set it apart from the competition, including better fuel economy.
“That’s been a huge benefit, especially with fuel prices as high as they are. We’ve seen a significant difference since using the Komatsu loaders, and it’s been even better with the new WA430-6. It uses less fuel, but still has all the power we expect from Komatsu loaders. We also like its traction control as well. We can dig into a pile without the tires slipping, which helps our tires last longer. All around, it has been lowering our operating costs significantly.”
Como said he appreciates Binder Machinery’s reliable service as well.
“Binder has taken very good care of us. Rob stops in often to check on us and our product support representative, Rudy Martinez, is very good about letting us know when he’ll be in the area, checking to see if we need him to bring anything. Our mechanics often comment about how good Binder’s parts and service people are.”
Building on the Foundation
The Comos expect to continue offering the same great service they have always given their customers. Adding concrete is one way they’re doing that.
“As always, it depends on our customers’ wishes,” Como said. “If there’s something further we can do, we’ll do our best to help them. We’re very pleased with what we’ve built here. We’ve given the next generation a solid foundation to work with, and Mike and I believe that they’ll continue building on it.”
This article was reprinted with permission from Building With Binder magazine from its May 2008 issue.