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John’s Gradall Service Flourishes With Collective Effort

Thu February 11, 2010 - Northeast Edition
Jay Adams

Just five short years ago, a secretary for a construction company decided to leave her office to join forces with her husband’s son to form a new company.

It was 2004 when Laura Scott and John Smith founded John’s Gradall Service in Mansfield, Mass. They started as simply as possible, with just the two of them as employees and one machine.

Fast forward only a brief five years, and the company has quickly grown to a dozen workers and two-dozen machines.

The family brought a lot of experience to the operation. John’s Gradall Service represents years of collective teamwork, from the smallest projects to the most complicated. Laura’s husband, Jack Smith, brought more than 45 years of construction work to the fold, while his son, John, had been in heavy construction for all of his adult life.

What began with one Gradall has grown to more than a dozen, all on active rental. Additionally, the company offers a large assortment of other equipment, such as trucks, Bobcats, dozers, excavators, loaders and various pieces of specialty equipment to meet a variety of construction needs.

Beyond equipment rental, John’s Gradall Service performs vast assortments of other heavy iron work, including road construction, sidewalk reconstruction, septic systems, and sewer collection systems, building construction, site work, hydro-seeding, grading and all manner of excavation work.

A union company, John’s Gradall employs union operators and all of its employees are 40-hour Hazmat and OSHA trained. Its fleet of later model equipment is completely maintained by in-house staff, bolstered by the recent addition of noted regional technician George Ford, who is a certified Gradall mechanic.

“Everybody knows him,” said General Manager Jack Smith.

“He’s a top man. And we are already selling parts. We are a Gradall dealer, selling used Gradall parts, repairing and replacing them.”

The dream of John’s Gradall started simply enough.

“I was a secretary at a construction company. I wanted to start my own company,” said Laura Scott. “I financed this business with the sale of my house. I was trying to be a woman-owned company.”

Laura has been studying hard to satisfy a state and federal rule that requires that 10 percent of people on job sites be a minority.

“I am on the way of becoming W.B.E. [Woman Business Enterprise].

Gradall’s XL Series excavators are designed to meet contractors’ needs for compact, cost-efficient machines that can perform high productivity digging and demolition, as well as fine grading, according to Scott, adding that “[these] low-profile, telescoping boom machines can work under bridges and tree limbs where conventional, knuckle boom excavators cannot, and are easy to operate and maintain.”

Father and son, Jack and John Smith, have a lot of experience with Gradall. John had run them for several years before starting the new family business.

“They are a unique unit, a special piece of equipment,” he said. “They don’t knuckle under. They are totally different from excavators. They can work in low clearance areas, well under power lines. They don’t need high clearance. They do the same work, with a lower profile. They can work horizontally. That’s why they are unique.

“The rubber-tire machines will do 6 miles per hour down the highway,” he added. “You don’t need a lowbed [trailer] to move them. They move well down the highway and we use them a lot on the highways for road work. They help get into really tight areas.”

John’s Gradall can cast materials from one Gradall to another.

“Every size and model that Gradall makes, we own it,” said Jack Smith. “We own every model for every situation.”

These include the XL2300, XL2200, XL3100, XL4200, XL5100 Gradall with hammer, the XL5200 with hammer, and the XL2200 Gradall, which has a 360-degree boom rotation. The milling head for the XL5100 and XL5200 also are available.

“We bought our first machine in Florida and, in five short years, went from one machine to 20 to 25. And some 90 percent go out with our operators,” added Jack Smith.

Since its 2004 founding, the small firm has been gaining in reputation.

“We had a big job in the town of Walpole,” said John Smith. “We built sidewalks from absolutely nothing to the finish. City officials rented machines from me and they did all the work in house, so they could understand the process and [how] it would save them money.”

Jack said word has spread quickly about the new, small company located amid the dirt piles just after the concrete bridge south of the new mall at Mansfield Crossing.

“We have grown out of word of mouth. We’d like to keep getting out name out there,” said Jack Smith. “We provide good service and we have good operators, good drivers and great mechanics.”

“Very few people have Gradall equipment,” added John. “And that’s how we grew.”

For more information, call 508/261-2800.

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