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West Side Digs Up Faster Profits for Troutman Excavating

Fri September 17, 2004 - Midwest Edition
Darryl Seland



Nine months ago, Troutman Excavating Inc. in Channahon, IL, purchased a John Deere 200CLC excavator from West Side Tractor and the company has since shaved two-and-a-half hours off of its dig time.

“It’s quick. It’s strong. It’s been a great machine,” said Steve Troutman, owner of Troutman Excavating. “West Side’s been really good.”

The company is using the excavator on a contract job it recently landed with Mantalbono Homes at the Amberleith Estates in Channahon, IL, where it has 191 foundations to dig.

“We’re in and out of there quite a bit. It’s like five or six a week,” he said. “[But with the 200CLC] we could dig four in a day without a problem.”

Troutman Excavating’s work is predominantly residential homes for custom builders, and of the approximately 120 homes it digs a year, all are completed with only one operator –– Steve Troutman.

With just one man on the job, the company is very conscious of downtime.

“As a small guy I can’t afford to be down,” said Troutman. “When we have a problem with a machine, we’re never down. We never lose anything because [West Side] is always there giving us a back up machine.”

However, Troutman has never felt like a “small guy” when dealing with West Side. “They treat me like I have fifty pieces of equipment,” said Troutman. “It means a lot.”

Troutman attributes a great deal of that feeling to Wayne Massad, salesman of West Side Tractor. “Wayne’s never let us down yet. You couldn’t ask for a better salesman,” he said.

About a year and a half ago, the company also purchased a Mustang 2095 and MTL25 skid steer from West Side and according to Troutman they have been workhorses. “They’ll go through anything,” he said. “There’s no downtime for us and that’s why we purchased it.”

Where It All Started

Troutman began his operating career with a local excavator, where he learned everything he needed to know about the bidding aspect of the business. Still, he pointed out he’s been running machines since he was little –– back when his father owned his own business working on railroad derailments and transfers.

Additionally, a man named Mickey Feeney indirectly had a great affect on Troutman’s career and decision to start his own business.

Feeney, a local excavator in Channahon, was retiring. Troutman was looking into buying the company but decided against it because the operation was too big for his first venture.

“My father-in-law said ’Why would you want to take someone else’s name on when you could start your own [company]. You have a lot less to lose,’” he said.

Although he didn’t buy into Feeney’s business, he worked for the new owners for about four or five months. Having seen up close the way the business was run, Troutman was confident he could do it himself.

“It was pretty hard to leave, but [owning my own business] is something I’ve always dreamed of,” said Troutman. “At least when I’m fifty years old there are no ’what-if’s.’”

Troutman started the business in a little shop in Minooka, IL. In the beginning, a friend named Terry McDonald gave him a place to store his equipment and fuel. But two months ago, the company moved into its new 5,000-sq.-ft. facility and Troutman said he couldn’t be more blessed.

“The guys I have working for me are great,” he said. “They give 110 percent and definitely take pride in the company.”

Troutman Excavating has been very busy with its residential and commercial excavation, as well as some demolition, grading and snow removal projects.

“We’ve had maybe a week off total the whole year,” said Troutman. “We don’t want to turn down work. Just to see what we’ve accomplished in three years is huge.”