UEL Does Business the Old-Fashioned Way: Hard Work, Loyalty to Employees

Thu July 31, 2003 - Northeast Edition

In 1991, UEL Contractors, Fitchburg, MA, started from scratch with approximately a million dollar’s worth of general contracting business. Today its does millions a year, approximately 90 percent of it from public work projects contracted through cities, towns, municipalities or government agencies.

UEL specializes in site work, road work, pipe laying, and utilities such as water and sewer, etc. Although it is a state-certified woman business enterprise (WBE), the company doesn’t chase those jobs were WBE status is helpful. It prefers to earn it on its own.

“We pride ourselves on our work,” said Pam Dobeck, CEO. “We’re not afraid to go above and beyond the scope of the contract to ensure professional results.”

The state of Massachusetts agrees. In 2001, it gave UEL the WBE Contractor of the Year Award for the Largest Single Contract.

Dedication to quality also shows in UEL’s employees. Many have been with the company from the beginning, having grown up together. Entry-level laborers are hired straight out of school, then rise through the ranks as the company prefers to promote from within. Winter layoffs are avoided if possible and 40-hour work weeks are the norm. Turnover is minimal.

“We base our company on more of a family attitude,” said Sue Doiron, president. “We are very loyal to our employees. They work hard and their professionalism is appreciated by everyone.”

Currently the company employs 50 and runs 42 major pieces of equipment. Its jobs typically last six to nine months and range form $500,000 to $2 million. UEL owns six Hitachi excavators — an EX300, an EX270, two EX200s and two EX150s.

Joe Nugent, job supervisor said, “Hitachi is the Cadillac of machines, in my opinion. It’s smooth, very powerful, and a comfortable machine to operate. It is very dependable. From trench digging to pipe setting, we can count on them to perform as needed.”

Hands down, the operators love their Hitachis. When discussions are held about buying another excavator, they automatically ask, “What size Hitachi are we looking at now?” rather than “Which brand?”

Dependability is especially important due to the unpredictable nature of the soil in Massachusetts. Digging conditions vary widely just a few feet apart, so nearly all state contracts have rock clauses. Blasting is done only when a ledge of rock runs an entire trench length. Consequently, hammers are frequently used and the Hitachis handle them with ease. Other commonly used attachments include bailing buckets and demolition grapples.

“We like the line of work we do,” concluded Dobeck. “We look to increase our volume a little bit each year, but we still want to keep it like family and really know every one of our employees. We like looking out for each other. If you get too big, it’s hard to do that.”

UEL Contractors is serviced by Schmidt Equipment.

(This article appears courtesy of “Breakout” magazine.)