Paul Gatchell digs what he digs, and gives back while doing it.
Gatchell, owner of Gatchell Excavation Inc. of Epping, N.H., supports local charities like Relay For Life and others. In addition, he recently donated his time to a project close to home.
“We try to stay involved in our local community. Last year, we donated around $60,000 worth of site work to compete a playground for Epping Elementary School that the Governor of New Hampshire, Maggie Hassan, cut the ribbon at,” said Gatchell. “My kids attend there. One is in second grade and we have a little one who is four, who is going to go there shortly. It was the least we could do.”
The principal didn’t think it was the least, however.
“On behalf of the children and teachers of Epping Elementary, I want to extend my thanks to you for your generous support of our First Day Program,” wrote Mark Vallone, Epping Elementary School principal, in a letter last September. “Paul, we could not have finished this project without your help. The playground will be enjoyed for many, many years, thanks to you.”
On the day the playground was dedicated in Sept. 2103, Gov. Hassan told a crowd of more than 50 town officials, “I may have to come back here and play on this. One of the things I’m proudest of is the way we come together in New Hampshire to get things done. We solve problems.”
20th Anniversary and Further
Gatchell Excavation was founded in 1993, and celebrated 20 years in operation about the time the school playground was completed. Gatchell grew up in the area and wasn’t much older than the students at Epping Elementary when he fell in love with heavy equipment and the gears which moved them.
“Both my parents were music teachers. No one in my family was in construction,” said Gatchell. “But I was the pride of the sandbox as a child. I was always fascinated by heavy equipment, by hydraulics.
“There was one old-timer in town, Bill Parker. He had an old Ford backhoe. There was another old-timer with a John Deere backhoe. That was about it,” Gatchell said. “When he went out of business, I was kind of the only guy in town. Epping is a town of about 6,700. There is one other guy in town with one dump truck, one excavator and me. So, people know my work.”
Gatchell learned quickly. Starting out mowing lawns up and down his street in 1987, he bought his first backhoe in 1993.
“Basically, the lawn mowing business supported the backhoe business,” Gatchell said. “I learned by making a lot of mistakes, basic trial and error. I offered to work for other excavation companies, but because I had no experience, they wouldn’t hire me, so I went into business for myself.”
Gatchell and a crew that varies from four to 16 employees, depending on season or work load, has grown into a business whose services range from installing, repairing or replacing all septic systems, to laying water lines, excavation and site work, driveways, grading, pulling stumps, clearing timber and much more.
“We do anything from small waterline fixes to commercial/industrial sites,” said Mike Yergeau, company manager. “From Exit 6 off Route 101, we just built a 500-foot road to a two-acre parking lot for a wood processing plant that we just paved. We’re wrapping the job up. We started June 1 and we’ve worked every day since on it to finish it.
“This latest job, although it’s not enormous, has been one of our better jobs,” said Yergeau. “We can say that because we moved so much material in so little time with such a small crew, we thought it was impressive. We were able to move 6,500 cubic yards of loam, 10,375 cubic yards of fill, and 6,000 cubic yards of gravel in four weeks to build an area for two acres of asphalt.”
Gatchell Excavating Inc. also has found a special niche around Epping, building backyard ponds and personally designed water holes and pools, along with retaining walls and other individualized projects.
“We actually pride ourselves on niche jobs that either nobody wants or can’t do within the time frames or constraints,” said Yergeau.
“Niche jobs are what I call the jobs we design/build and build without any other support,” said Gatchell.
But that doesn’t mean his bigger projects don’t have a support system.
“First and foremost, over these 20 years, I have to thank my family for their support. Mark Pelosi has been a longtime friend of mine and has helped me out since 1996. Mike Yergeau is the backbone. He has been with me since 1999.
“And if you want to praise the companies I work with, you have to mention Bell & Flynn Paving out of Exeter, N.H. They are amazing. They just do an incredible job paving. They make us look good. And I have to mention Greg Demerrit Landscaping of Epping. They do all our landscaping and hydro-seeding and are tremendous.”
Shooting Range Referrals
In such a small town, Gatchell said that 95 percent of his business is by referral.
One of his largest repeat customers is Sig Sauer Academy, a professional shooting range and school which has trained some of the top law enforcement and military personnel in New England.
“We do a lot of our design-build work at Sig Sauer, the Academy. We have built many of the roads there,” said Gatchell. “They train the National Guard at the Academy and just about every form of law enforcement, from the top, all the way down; from sniper forces to handgun owners and the general public.”
After 20 years, Gatchell knows the full range of customer needs and his entire operation of hydraulics is geared that way.
“We just stick it out, have a good time and work hard,” said Gatchell. “Our customers’ needs are of the utmost importance and our whole team is committed to meeting those needs.”
Gatchell Excavating Inc. is located at 44 Prescott Road, Epping, N.H. For more information call 603/279-2668 or visit www.gatchellexcavation.com.
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