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South Carolina’s Coogler Construction Does the Dirty Work

Joey and Chris Coogler have always been willing to take on the dirty, labor-intensive jobs necessary in order to ensure that sparkling new roads, sidewalks, buildings and homes can be built and enjoye

Tue June 24, 2014 - Southeast Edition
Eric Olson

Joey and Chris Coogler have always been willing to take on the dirty, labor-intensive jobs necessary in order to ensure that sparkling new roads, sidewalks, buildings and homes can be built and enjoyed by everybody.

Not only are they willing, they really love doing that type of work. Operating heavy equipment at a job site is something they see as both fun and challenging.

Their enthusiasm for their work infects their entire operation. In 2014, the brothers are celebrating 20 years since they first opened Coogler Construction Inc. near Columbia, S.C.

But enjoying their work is only one part of why they have been so successful over the last two decades. The other, said Joey Coogler, is to see to it that his business is operated while employing the right set of principles.

“I personally feel that being successful lies in God’s plan,” Joey Coogler said. “Number two is treating people like you want to be treated. There are plenty of opportunities in this business to take advantage of people and in return they can take advantage of you. You need to really think about the business decisions you are making, pray about them and make sure they are making sense.”

One example of the brothers’ business philosophy was illustrated when Coogler Construction worked on a local school project where they changed the planned elevation, in the process saving the school district hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“I recommended that the elevation be lowered, which did save the customer a great deal of money,” said Coogler. “There are a lot of value engineering ideas that you can put in play that engineers sometimes overlook or don’t have the time to find. We just try to help our customers get the numbers back down to where they can make better profits and see a better bottom line.”

The Coogler brothers got into the construction business in the first place because their father was a successful home builder. They started out clearing lots and putting in septic tanks before moving on to start their own firm.

Now the company is involved in all aspects of infrastructure construction from clearing and grading, to laying sewer lines, hauling stone, pouring concrete and demolition.

Work Expanding to Other Areas

Many of their recent projects have taken them out of the Columbia area, where most of their work has been, to other parts of the Carolinas and Georgia.

For instance, Chris Coogler oversaw the work on shoring up some large levees and dikes in the Savannah area, where he said the company moved approximately 600,000 cu. yds. (458,732 cu m) of material.

Coogler crews also have repaired the shoreline in Holden Beach, N.C. On that job, their heavy equipment hauled 200,000 to 300,000 cu. yds. (152,910 to 229,366 cu m) of fill from a pit on the mainland in order to rebuild the beach.

Coogler Construction also has worked on bridge projects in both Spartanburg and Greenville for the South Carolina DOT.

A Genuine Partnership

Back in 1994, when the brothers were just starting out in business, they only had a couple of pieces of equipment to use for lot clearing and grading. Today, Coogler Construction has more than 100 pieces of equipment in its fleet.

A lot of that is due to its relationship with Columbia-based Hills Machinery, one of the Southeast’s top heavy equipment dealerships, according to the company.

Just in the last two years, Coogler has purchased approximately 10 pieces of new Case manufactured equipment from Hills, including Case skid steer loaders, compact track loaders, compaction equipment, dozers, excavators and Eager Beaver trailers.

Coogler has its Case machines working at project sites all over the Columbia area. A Case SV212 compactor is working on the building pad for the expansion of the Lake Murray Presbyterian Church in Chapin, S.C.; a Case TV380 compact track loader is doing general clean up at a job site on U.S. Highway 378 in Columbia; and a Case 2050M dozer is pushing material around at the Chapin Technological Park.

The ease and efficiency of the Case 2050 dozer, in particular, has really impressed the Cooglers.

“We have been quite pleased with it,” said Joey Coogler. “We compared it to some other dozers that we already had and saw that the Cases had more power and had the ability to be smooth through rocky and muddy situations. It is also aggressive, quick and user friendly. I feel like anybody can get on it and run it.”

In addition, Coogler said the Case 2050 has performed quite well at fine grading and he was very pleased with its fuel consumption, too.

Chris Coogler, for one, believes that Case is manufacturing some of the best machines in the equipment business right now.

“I think in general, Case has definitely either met or exceeded the bar for equipment on some of their machines and that has made people turn their gaze more to them,” Chris Coogler said. “You know, we have a hard job out there and we need good equipment for that job. We feel that Case has made a lot of positive changes and have built a strong and positive bridge to Coogler Construction.”

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