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Masterson Construction Masters Art of Listening to Customers, Employees

Thu September 06, 2007 - Northeast Edition
Construction Equipment Guide

Commercial or residential, big or small, site jobs or utility work … Masterson Construction has customers across the entire range. When clients were asked about their experience with the 25-year-old Danvers, Mass., company, the assessments were uniform — Masterson adhered to budget, deadlines and requirements.

Jack Masterson, the company founder, said it’s all about listening.

“We incorporate into each bid what the customer told us about their specific parameters, we plan for them and we stick to it. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that people appreciate being heard. We all do,” he said.

The importance of listening is ingrained in the company’s philosophy.

“It works with our own employees as well,” said Jeff Masterson, Jack’s son.

“They do not expect you to react to everything they tell you but they want to know that you are listening, that you respect them and the work that they do.”

In business since 1981, Masterson Construction employs a staff of more than 50.

“We keep them interested, challenged and busy through the year with a wide variety of jobs,” said Jeff, who runs the day-to-day operations.

The Masterson list of customers is a healthy mix that has allowed the company to stay in business even through periods of economic change and uncertainty.

Assessing the Business Environment

“In the 25 years since I started the company, the only constant has been change — new markets have emerged, old ones have disappeared, trends have come and gone, some never to return,” said Jack.

“That’s why I consider personnel my number one investment; first you need to have in place quality people who can learn and adapt; then, you give them top-of-the-line equipment, so they feel safe, excited and proud to be doing the work.”

When he talked about specific business changes Jack said, “Everything is all-inclusive now, down to the landscaping and the signs in the parking lot.”

Developers have become business people who buy properties and permit them, while site managers have really become general contractors who handle everything, beginning to end, he explained.

“Many of our customers want one source, one point of contact that can provide integrated services,” said Jeff.

“This new method of working puts a lot of weight on the vendors that you choose and on subcontractors that you rely on, and of course, planning becomes huge. There are many more variables [that] we’re responsible for,” he said.

Attention to every detail matters, and Jack gives an example.

“Nowadays with fuel prices that can go up 20 cents a gallon in two weeks, we sure keep an eye on machines that incorporate advanced technology for more efficient performance, because fuel costs eat away your profit.”

Both Mastersons emphasize the importance of versatility, flexibility, ability to adapt and function in a wide range of circumstances and environments, taking advantage of core strengths, and adding others as needed.

“Our customers have grown, and we have grown with them, supporting them in their different needs,” Jeff said.

“Having a versatile crew and efficient equipment can help during the tough times, and when business gets better, you are ready to take advantage of new opportunities,” said Jack.

The Mastersons see their staff as their biggest strength and believe in continuing their approach to hire right, respecting and supporting their workers.


Reducing equipment downtime to ensure peak performance is another key issue at Masterson.

“With a fleet our size, you need to have mechanics in-house, but they can’t know everything about every machine. Milton CAT works with us and helps us to avoid problems before they happen. Their diagnostic software keeps our equipment running at peak performance,” explained Jack.

“We really abuse Dave Nelson, our Milton CAT Parts and Service sales representative. Sometimes I am surprised that he continues to show up. We gang up on him and pick his brain. He’s very knowledgeable and teaches us things we would never learn otherwise,” added Jeff.

“We stick to equipment that performs for us day in and day out, and that has good residual value and flexible machines that have pulled us through the toughest times,” said Jeff.

“We know we can rely on Milton CAT because of their range. They can back us up with the right inventory when we need it, whether it’s a new machine, a low-hour, used one, or a particular tool. We value what Ernie Boudreau, our sales representative, brings to the table.”

Plans for the Future

According to the Mastersons, their biggest challenge as a company is controlled growth. The company is committed to maintaining a resilient core of customers, expanding when it makes sense, and only as far as they can handle the work without changing their philosophy.

“Keeping a firm grip on any expansion plans is key for us,” said Jeff.

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