Pepperdam Faces Bright Future Despite Past Challenges

One construction company comes through the recession battered, but unbowed.

Tue May 28, 2013 - Southeast Edition
Eric Olson

A Case CX 210B excavator ready for work.
A Case CX 210B excavator ready for work.
A Case CX 210B excavator ready for work. The Case 1150E dozer put to work. Bret Diggett (L), a Charlestown region salesman and Ray Robinson, a Hills Machinery service technician, discuss the routine service needed on the Case CX210B excavator. The operator of the Case CX 210B excavator moves material on site of a future Mosa tile distribution center.

Similar to many construction companies that have come through the recession of the last 5 years, Pepperdam Construction may be battered, but it is certainly not beaten. In fact, the firm, located in North Charleston, S.C., is facing an increasingly bright future.

With 22 employees, Pepperdam is operating with less than half the number of personnel than it was before the economic downtown, but according to owner and President Greg Blanton, this year has been the best for the firm in years.

“We were forced to downsize with the recession, but since then we have been growing and recovering our volume of work,” Blanton said. “I feel very good about our future.”

Pepperdam has managed to thrive by offering a range of services to clients within 100 mi. of its home base. The company, dedicated to industrial and commercial construction, specializes in building retail, office, warehouse and manufacturing facilities. In addition, Pepperdam takes subcontracting jobs; does complete site work; builds slabs and footings; installs water and sewer lines; and does electrical work.

Currently, Pepperdam is putting up a 30,375-sq.ft. (2,821.93 sq m) distribution facility for Royal Mosa Tile, a ceramic tile manufacturer based in the Netherlands.

Blanton and his crew began clearing and grading the 3½-acre site in an industrial park near Pepperdam’s office back in February. Work soon progressed to the point that they were putting the roof on the building the first week in May.

“This particular site was already partially cleared,” Blanton said in early May. “We did have some trees along the periphery to take out but for the most part we did a lot of earth work moving dirt around and laying pipe, but this particular site was mostly clear.”

Among the pieces of equipment Pepperdam used to do the work was a Case CX210B excavator; a Case 580SN backhoe; a Case TR320 track loader; and an older Case 1150E crawler dozer. All machines proved invaluable for the task at hand according to Blanton.

Pepperdam purchased the excavator from Hills Machinery, a South Carolina based dealership with locations in North Charleston, Columbia, Greenville and Raleigh, N.C.

The older dozer was bought a decade ago from another dealership that did not survive the recession, but since Blanton has owned it he makes sure that Hills Machinery services the dozer and all of his Case machines.

“I really like Case. I have purchased several Case backhoes in the past and another excavator, a CX160 prior to buying the CX210B. They are good, reliable machines and the Hills Machinery people have been good to work with, too. We use them for all the service on the Case equipment and we actually rent some equipment from them periodically, too some backhoes and skid steer loaders and track loaders, as well,” said Blanton.

Once the land was cleared and graded, Pepperdam’s crews poured the concrete floor and erected the structural steel before moving on to framing the office space inside.

According to Blanton Royal Mosa should be ready to occupy the new building June 15.

The warehouse site is located in Palmetto Commercial Center, an industrial park in North Charleston, S.C., just a couple miles from Interstate 26.

Cross County Road, which runs past the Royal Mosa site, coincidentally is the street location of Hills Machinery. In addition, Pepperdam Construction is located just off that same road in an adjacent business park.

Blanton likes to do work that is close to home. As further proof of that, he said that most of his firm’s work is done within 100 mi. of the Pepperdam office.

“We have gone into Walterboro, St. George, Lake City and Orangeburg, usually no more than 75 to 80 mi. from here. The reason for that is it is hard to take heavy equipment 100 miles or more to job sites,” Blanton said.

Founded in 1984 by Blanton and a partner, whom he has since bought out, Pepperdam Construction gets its name from the industrial park the company has always called home.

“We self-perform 50 to 60 percent of everything we do,” Blanton said. When we do a building project, we will subcontract the fire/sprinkler systems, drywall painting, and things like that. When we are the subcontractors, it is usually doing site work or concrete work for other large out of town general contractors.”

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