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Contractor of the Year Finalist: W.F. Delauter Grows from One Dozer to 135-Piece Fleet

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Kirby Delauter’s father, Russ, jokingly refers to the firm he and his father, Willie, formed in 1955 as a “one-horse operation.” Change that from one horse to one dozer, which the father-son team used to perform residential and commercial grading.

Screen Shot 2021 11 18 At 2 17 57 PmNow, far from that one-dozer start, the company is run by third-generation Kirby Delauter and his wife, Tina Delauter. The $10 million to $12 million firm does a variety of work including site development, demolition, utilities, bridges and stormwater management — in three states.

Kirby’s entering the firm wasn’t necessarily a done deal, however. After serving six years in the U.S. Army, “I didn’t know what I wanted to do, and I didn’t think I was college material,” Kirby recalls. He joined the family firm and proved so adept he became president in 1994.

And after working for several years outside the company, Kirby and Tina’s son William has joined the firm and is on his way to becoming the 66-year-old company’s fourth generation. A licensed civil engineer, William has “the education to take this as far as he wants to take it,” Kirby says.

“After being on the design side, now I’m getting more of the construction side,” William says. But keep in mind he did grow up working in the family business before college, and Kirby says he “knows what it’s like getting dirty in the ditches.”

Great Recession

Like many in this industry, the Great Recession hit the company hard. “It’s something I’ve never seen before,” Kirby says. “It took us from around 65 employees down to 16.”

“You just worked through it because that’s all you could do,” he adds. “You learned a lot of things that you’ll never find in a book.”

“That showed me more about what he’s made of than anything because he handled it in a way that I couldn’t have,” says Russ.

The experience has prompted an emphasis on measured, steady growth. “We could be three times the size we are right now,” Kirby says, “but I want to grow the company responsibly.” He expects the business to increase revenues to $13 million to $15 million this fiscal year, which ends in March.

Sharp eye

W. F. Delauter crews on the $3.6 million Gas House Pike Bridge in Frederick, Maryland.W. F. Delauter crews on the $3.6 million Gas House Pike Bridge in Frederick, Maryland.Equipment WorldPart of that responsible growth is keeping a sharp eye on equipment needs. “We run a little leaner now,” Kirby says. “If we don’t need something, I may sell it and then think about renting it.”

Kirby frequently uses RPOs and buys used if it’s a machine he expects to put less than 1,000 hours a year on. “Excavators, loaders and dozers are our frontline pieces, so I’m either going to buy them new or low-hour used,” Kirby says. The firm has around 135 major pieces of equipment.

In addition to the heavy machines, W.F. Delauter has seven compact track loaders. “They’re powerful and they get the job done,” Kirby says. “With a blade on them, you can sometimes use them as a default for a D4. It won’t push as much, but it gets around better. And we’ve had zero problems with them.”

Clients notice the appearance of W.F. Delauter machines on their jobsites. “His equipment is always in tip-top shape,” says Vinny Flook, owner of Vinny’s Towing, who has done several projects with the company.

The company has three full time mechanics, including one who specializes in engines. “We do most of our work in-house, such as reinstalling refurbished undercarriages,” Kirby says. A fuel/lube truck services the company’s jobs.

Learning that a local college had a Cat simulator but no instructor, Kirby raised his hand and taught equipment operation evenings and weekends this past semester. He took the students to one of his jobsites where they spent eight weeks operating equipment.

“All of the students passed the class,” Kirby says. He didn’t stop there: he helped them create resumes and gave them contacts. All found employment at $22 to $24 an hour within weeks of completing the course.

Tina joined Kirby in the office around eight years ago and handles business development, HR and manages the company’s 60-construction-dumpster roll-off division. The division developed out of W.F. Delauter’s need to haul construction debris off its own sites and now generates about $700,000 a year.

“We’re also looking at marketing recycled construction materials to other contractors,” Tina says.

Family first

The International TD6 dozer that Willie and Russ Delauter used when starting W.F. Delauter now sits at the entrance to the firm and serves as the backdrop in this company photo.The International TD6 dozer that Willie and Russ Delauter used when starting W.F. Delauter now sits at the entrance to the firm and serves as the backdrop in this company photo.Equipment WorldThe company has around 70 employees, including five utility crews, two grading crews and a concrete crew. “I’ve always felt that good people attract good people,” Kirby says.

“We feel that family comes first,” Tina says. “I think that gives them an incentive to stick with us. And once you feel like you’re part of the team, you’re locked in with the group. We always tell them there’s room to grow. You might be a laborer now, but if you can jump on the backhoe and learn, for example, there’s a lot of potential to grow.”

Tina and Kirby also keep an eye on local labor rates, Kirby says. “I ask myself, ‘Are we going to keep good people and do people believe in us enough to sustain that?’” he says.

“It’s really been an honor for us to continue the legacy that Russ and Willie built from the ground up,” Tina says.

Client appreciation

You get a sense of both the legacy and the future of W.F. Delauter when you talk to its clients.

“They always stand behind their word,” says client Steve Oder with Cavalier Development. “I could do a handshake contract with them and be perfectly comfortable. There’s not many of those around anymore.”

“Concerns were quickly put to rest after seeing how conscientious, knowledgeable and skilled [their] employees were throughout the duration of the project,” says Gale Engles, bureau chief for the Carroll County, Maryland, Bureau of Resource Management.

“One thing that’s really impressed me, especially considering the size of his business, is how much he’s available and how responsive he is,” Flook says. “If it comes out his mouth, it’s golden.”

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Packing Power in a Small Frame: Toro Launches the Dingo TX 700 Mini Skid Steer

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Toro’s Dingo TX 700 packs 700 pounds of rated operating capacity into a small footprint and expands Toro’s extensive Dingo lineup.

With its small size and power, it’s the ideal compact utility loader, also known as a mini skid steer, for  contractors working within the confines of tight spaces.

“The compact size and flexibility of the Dingo TX 700 is bound to be a game-changer for operators,” says Jay Thaker, Toro marketing manager. “The fact that it’s small, but incredibly capable, increases the applications for the Dingo TX 700 on the jobsite. This Dingo has the potential to be the compact go-getter of the operation.”

The machine features the patented  Dingo TX 1000 traction controls and a dedicated stand-on platform. According to Toro, even if the buyer is new to operating heavy machinery, it will quickly become second nature with the easy-to-use controls.Dingo TX 700 control panelFeaturingthe patented Dingo TX 1000 traction controls and a dedicated stand-on platform, the Dingo TX 700 is easy-to-use and boasts increased comfort and visibility.Toro

Smaller than some of the other Dingo models, the TX 700 can reach areas other machines may not and is more compact for storage purposes. It’s also compatible with dozens of attachments, meaning the machine can be used for a wide range of jobs, making it more efficient and cost effective than purchasing multiple machines.

Toro also says the Dingo 700, which is available in both narrow and wide track configurations, is easy on turf. The wide track option is equipped with the Camso track system which features a less aggressive tread pattern, which is gentle on turf and minimizes damage, perfect for keeping lawns intact.

The new Dingo TX 700 will be available starting mid-year 2022.

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Office Manager Accused of Stealing $2.2M from N.J. Construction Firm

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An office manager has been charged with stealing more than $2.2 million from a New Jersey construction company over seven years.

The theft began in 2015 when Donna Cook, 52, of Howell, New Jersey, began writing unauthorized checks to herself from the Tinton Falls company where she worked, according to Lori Linskey, acting Monmouth County prosecutor. She forged the signature of the company’s principal, Linskey said.

Check amounts ranged from $75,000 to $475,000, with some made payable to cash. Linskey says the money was used for Cook’s personal expenses.

The theft continued from 2015 into 2021. The Tinton Falls Police Department began an investigation several months ago, which expanded to include the Monmouth County Prosecutor Office’s Financial Crimes and Public Corruption Bureau.

Cook is charged with second-degree theft, third-degree forgery and third-degree false uttering. She has been released on her own recognizance and is scheduled for a first appearance February 15 in Monmouth County Superior Court. If convicted on the second-degree theft charge, she would face up to 10 years in prison, Linskey says.

The name of the construction company was not released. Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Kristen Anastos is prosecuting the case.

Signs of embezzlement

Here are some signs that your company may be a victim of embezzlement:

Territorial: They are defensive about “their area,” including their desk, computer and the work they handle for you. No one can do what they do.

Workaholic: They refuse to take vacations. Extended time off means someone will likely have to do their job in their absence, perhaps leading to discovery.

Extravagance: They start buying things you know are beyond their income level. If they show up to work with a tricked-out SUV or start displaying expensive tastes, pay attention.

Over familiarity: They are unusually close to a vendor or client. If they always insist that a business get front-of-the-line treatment, it could be a red flag.

Money problems: They are having financial difficulties. They’re asking for advances and complaining about making ends meet. They may have gambling issues. If they can’t handle their own finances, is it wise to trust them with yours?

Professional “coziness”: They have a field/office friendship that’s just a little too cozy. This could be especially true if your business takes service calls. One person may be handling the incoming calls and dispatching a service technician. When the technician offers a cash discount to the client, the two pocket and split the cash, and no record of the service call exists.

Disgruntled: They have a “poor me” attitude. They gripe to you or to others about being underpaid and underappreciated.

Additionally, you could be seeing:

In the red: You’re not making the money you know you should be making. Things aren’t adding up. Expected profits aren’t there. There are unexplained losses on a job or a spike in material prices.

Vanishing act: Records disappear. Bank statements, permit receipts, invoices and other financial records just can’t be located when you need them.

Low morale: Employee morale is low. If you’ve enabled an embezzler – either by turning a blind eye to their actions or not being open to other employees’ complaints – you could be contributing to an atmosphere of distrust.

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Chevy Takes Aim at Competitors with Electric 2024 Silverado

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Chevy has muscled up big and kicked a little sand on its competitors with an all-electric 2024 Silverado.

At work where truck strength and stamina can make or break a profit margin, the Ultium-powered pickup will offer 33% more range than Ford’s all-electric 2022 F-150 Lightning and will be available with a 20,000-pound max towing package.

Yes, that’s 20,000 pounds of max towing in a pickup that’s intended to replace the internal combustion half-ton truck. But with power like this, better add ¾- and most 1-tons to the list. The F-150 Lightning maxes out at 10,000 pounds towing, while the Rivian R1T can take on 1,000 more pounds.

And it’s got stamina too. The electric Silverado will be available with up to 400 miles of range. While that’s on par with Rivian’s most powerful battery pack, it’s 100 miles more than the F-150 Lightning.

2024 electric Chevy Silverado RST rough terrainThe toned-down work truck, or WT, model of the electric 2024 Silverado will be the first to roll out in spring of 2023. The RST, shown above, comes next. Be on the lookout for a Trail Boss variant too.ChevroletBut really it’s the Silverado’s 20,000 pounds of max towing that clearly stands out. It’s the most that any OEM has offered yet in an electric pickup. GM Fleet Vice President Ed Peper acknowledged that a battery-heavy EV can prove advantageous when it comes to hauling bigger loads, given its greater mass. Pair that with the electric Silverado’s strong chassis, and you’ve got the greatest towing capacity offered to date for a factory-produced electric pickup.

But fleets will have to wait for that huge max tow package. The work truck version of the electric Silverado, or WT, will first debut in the spring of 2023 with 8,000 pounds of max towing. On a website page dedicated to electric Silverado fleet customers, Chevy notes that the 20,000-pound towing package for WT will roll out for model year 2025.

The all-electric Chevy Silverado also gets bragging rights on having the biggest bed among the small but growing group of electric crew-cab pickups. The 5-foot 11-inch-long bed can get even bigger with the drop-down midgate (a nod to Avalanche) and multi-flex tailgate available on RST. Once the midgate is lowered and the tailgate is adjusted, long payload like 10-foot 2x4s can slip inside the cab and rest up against the tailgate.

With up to 510 peak horsepower and up to 615 pound-feet of torque, the 2024 Silverado WT is powerful but it’s not Chevy’s fastest EV. For now, that distinction goes to the 2024 Silverado RST, which offers up to 664 horsepower, 780 pound-feet of torque and goes zero to 60 in 4.5 seconds. The supercharged 2021 Ram TRX is rated with the same zero-to-60 time, though some drivers have gotten better times.

But there’s a much bigger price to be paid for all that extra power and features like a Multi-Flex Midgate, automatic adjustable lift that can raise the truck up to 2 ½ inches, four-wheel steering, Wide Open Watts Mode and more on RST. Take a deep enough dive into power and luxury with the electric Silverado and you may find yourself paying up to $105,000.

Customers will have the ability to content the truck across various price ranges, with MSRPs around $50,000, $60,000, $70,000, $80,000 and more, allowing them to choose the truck that meets their capability and pricing needs.  

Fleets, on the other hand, can relax knowing that the toned-down WT starts at $39,990. 

“GM Fleet has long provided customers with great products and services, an exceptional customer experience and innovative solutions to meet their unique business needs,” Peper said. “We’re excited to launch the Silverado EV, providing customers with a true work-capable truck to help them begin the transition to an electric fleet and assist them in achieving their own sustainability goals.”

But it’s not just sustainability fleets are looking for; it’s safety too. Responsive and quick torque vectoring at each wheel combined with a full suite of safety features (listed below) has Peper calling the 2024 Silverado “the safest vehicle we’ve ever made.” 

Check out more features below on the 2024 Silverado. Refundable reservations can be made through Chevy’s website.

  • RST and WT models come with Tow/Haul mode, trailer hitch provisions, and an integrated trailer brake controller and Hitch Guidance. The RST also includes Chevy’s Advanced Trailering System.
  • RST and WT feature public DC fast-charging capabilities up to 350 kW, enabling approximately 100 miles of range to be added in 10 minutes, based on GM estimates.
  • Silverado EV is capable of charging another EV using the available accessory charge cord, sharing its power in times of need.
  • WT customers have access to Ultium Charge 360 Fleet Service, which offers one of the industry’s most comprehensive charging solutions for businesses, whether drivers take their vehicles home or return to a central depot.
  • The eTrunk is a lockable, weatherproof compartment in the front of the truck that provides enough space to fit a large hard-side suitcase and a multitude of accessory options for both fleet and retail customers to load gear based on the unique needs of the customer.
  • Safety features include safety alert seat, rear cross traffic braking, HD surround vision, forward collision alert, automatic emergency braking, front pedestrian braking, following distance indicator, lane keep assist with lane departure warning and Intellibeam auto high beam.
  • Up to 10.2 kW of off-board power through 10 outlets on WT and RST with optional equipment.
  • RST First Edition includes trailering-capable Super Cruise, the industry’s first true hands-free driver-assistance technology, allowing drivers to travel hands-free on more than 200,000 miles of compatible roads across the U.S. and Canada.
  • RST First Edition includes a 17-inch-diagonal LCD freeform infotainment screen paired with a neighboring 11-inch-diagonal reconfigurable driver instrument display and a multi-color driver head-up display with a field of view over 14 inches.

2024 Chevy electric Silverado bed cover ladderChevy is keeping work truck options in mind for the electric 2024 Silverado WT.Chevrolet

2024 Chevy electric Silverado WT cargo dividersA spacious frunk can be organized with dividers.Chevrolet

2024 Chevy electric Silverado RST dash viewPlenty to see with the 17-inch infotainment screen and the 11-inch driver display on the electric 2024 Chevy Silverado RST.Chevrolet

2024 Chevy electric Silverado RST Multi-Flex MidgateBed too short? The Multi-Flex Midgate on the all-electric 2024 Silverado RST drops down to allow for longer items.Chevrolet

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