FoutsCo President Lane Fouts (third from R) and Closner Equipment Vice President J.B. Closner (second from L)
discuss the performance of the Roadtec RP-195e and RP-175e tracked pavers on a job recently in North Texas.
Starting a construction company is a daunting task that comes with a host of challenges.
"Emerging contractors," as the new enterprises have come to be called, need to concern themselves with market conditions, competition, labor, profitability, deadlines and countless other components that affect future success.
Equipment concerns, some say, should not be another item on that already long list.
"I'm not an equipment guy, so I need to trust the experts," said Lane Fouts, president of FoutsCo Paving, a DFW-area paving contractor for the last three years.
"I can get the work; I can manage the work; I can get the job done on budget," Fouts said. "I need help on the equipment end."
The honest self-assessment from Fouts and other up-and-coming contractors has not gone unnoticed by equipment distributors.
J.B. Closner, vice president — North Texas of Closner Equipment, said his team devotes a significant amount of time and effort on this class of customers.
"It takes a lot of courage and guts to start a new construction enterprise today," Closner said. "I really respect the guys that are going out on their own."
Closner remembered the early discussions he had with Fouts that ultimately lead to a working relationship.
"We met at an industry event," said Closner. "He was working for another contractor at the time. He talked about his experience working for several paving companies and said he wanted to go on his own.
"Guys like Fouts are a rare breed, and I have nothing but respect for them, but there are challenges associated with startups, not the least of which is purchasing a quality fleet of equipment," Closner added. "Financing can be a real challenge."
The trajectory that Fouts' company is on is impressive. In his short history, the company has been able to accomplish:
- $24 million in contracts for 2021.
- $4 million fleet of primarily paving equipment
- 35 full-time employees and growing monthly;
- A significant portion of their business coming from TXDOT.
"Asphalt paving is our focus," Fouts said. "We are not a sub and do not use subs. We use all Roadtec paving equipment. All of our distributor trucks are from Closner, and we use Dynapac rollers. Nearly all our equipment is supplied by Closner.
"It was really a matter of giving them my equipment requirements and them coming up with a creative plan to meet both companies long term needs," Fouts added. "Closner was able to do that."
Whole Drilling Solutions
Mike Phinnemore is not new to the drilling business in North Texas, but his latest venture is. Whole Drilling Solutions LLC was formed recently with the intent of offering alternative drilling and stabilization techniques to the DFW metroplex.
Phinnemore's company offers auger cast piling, used primarily when installing piles in soft material. The process allows for a variety of bored piles through differing soil conditions and in a various diameters. Concrete is pumped through the auger as it is withdrawn from the ground, eliminating the need for shoring.
Phinnemore said the process is preferred for schools and other light duty structures. It requires a concrete pump like the Putzmeister TK60 supplied by Closner.
For the drilling pro and his fledgling company, he said they need the unmatched support and training that Closner offers.
"Closner handles all of our operator training," he said. "We've worked with them since 2015 at Russo [his former company]. They are by far the most helpful in both training and service. "We like the support we get from Closner."
‘It Feels Good'
There is more to filling the needs of promising new contractors than finding a way to get them the equipment they need and training them on the machines' operation.
"There is always a sense of urgency," said Closner.
Fouts has experienced his share of emergencies.
A lot of our work is for TxDOT and has to be performed at night when traffic is light," he said. "We can be assessed a penalty of up to $10,000 an hour if we are not off the roads at the agreed upon time. A penalty like that made for one of the worst days of my life when FoutsCo was in its infancy.
"That's why we have to lean on our equipment partner so hard," he continued. "If I need Closner at 2 a.m. in order to get off the highway on schedule, they are there."
For J.B. Closner, the former center for the University of Alabama football team, urgency in the construction world reminds him of the two minute drill in the closing seconds of a football game.
"It feels good," said Closner. "It is satisfying when someone is in a bind and you can help them. Whether it is getting them the equipment, or getting the equipment back up and running. That to me is the fulfilling side of what we do. Everyone wins." CEG
To read more about Closner Equipment see Closner Equipment Bullish On Texas.
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