Stories on our past winners and finalists

“Hiring for character, training for skill,” New York’s Lawrence Merle is our 2015 Contractor of the Year

“Hiring for character, training for skill,” New York’s Lawrence...

Before taking his first construction job, the only knowledge Larry Merle had of the industry was “Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel,” a classic children’s book his mother shared with him as a child. The story of Mike and his shovel Mary Anne became his favorite, and his mom read it to him every single ... read more

New Hampshire’s Jeremy Hiltz Excavating named Equipment World’s 2014 Contractor of the Year

New Hampshire’s Jeremy Hiltz Excavating named Equipment World’s 2014...

In an awards banquet Saturday night at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, Jeremy Hiltz Excavating was named Equipment World's Contractor of the Year for 2014. Hiltz Excavating in Ashland, New Hampshire, is an $8 to $10 million company that incorporated in 1996. They specialize in commercial site work, municipal and utility work and road building. The winner ... read more

HDD contractor Scott Kelly’s “Journey to Elite” pays off in Contractor of the Year win

HDD contractor Scott Kelly’s “Journey to Elite” pays off in Contractor of the...

"This is not the business for us.” That’s what Scott Kelly remembers thinking in 1995, the first time he saw horizontal directional drilling in action during a demonstration in Shrewsbury, Massachsetts. Kelly’s father James began researching HDD a year before, so the two were very interested in seeing the relatively new technology in action. Suffice it to ... read more

This “crazy diverse” Iowa contractor thrives on doing work that other companies shun

This “crazy diverse” Iowa contractor thrives on doing work that other companies shun

"I knew from high school I wanted to be a contractor,” says Jeff Pettiecord. So he started doing small remodeling jobs shortly after graduating, and eventually started his company in 1984. But it was the early 1980s and times were tough. “I literally chased fire trucks,” Jeff recalls. He’d call on the owners of the fire-damaged buildings, ... read more
Third-generation contractor manages company transition by merging old values with new opportunities

Third-generation contractor manages company transition by merging old values with new opportunities

For James Tollestrup, running the family business has included mastering the ability to transition the company from one phase to another. The third-generation contractor has taken Lethbridge, Alberta-based Tollestrup Construction to new levels of growth while maintaining the identity of his grandfather’s company. A changing identity Founded in 1940, the company has avoided experiencing growing pains that ... read more
Whether changing light bulbs or building timber bridges, agile diversification has been key to this Florida contractor’s success

Whether changing light bulbs or building timber bridges, agile diversification has been key to this Florida contractor’s success

You could say that as Don Facciobene climbed to a height of around 200 feet in the air just to change a light bulb, he had reached the lowest point in his career. After starting his construction company in 1987 in his hometown of Palm Bay, Florida, work began drying up in 1990. By 1993, Facciobene’s ... read more
Precision Pipeline worked around the recession and desert turtles to become one of Utah’s top contractors

Precision Pipeline worked around the recession and desert turtles to become one of Utah’s top contractors

Landon Floyd grew up in construction. His father ran a small excavation and pipeline company in Southern California but moved to Utah when Landon was a boy because it seemed a better place to raise a family. Although his dad handed the reins over about 10 years ago, Landon grew up working for the company. “I ... read more
Lifelong love of construction gives third-generation contractor Brad Phillips a distinct advantage

Lifelong love of construction gives third-generation contractor Brad Phillips a distinct advantage

When you ask Brad Phillips when he first became interested in construction, his answer is straightforward: “I can’t remember when I haven’t been.” And when you look at Brad’s background, his answer makes perfect sense. Brad is part of the third generation that runs Phillips Companies, Beavercreek, Ohio. The company, which was started by his grandfather ... read more
Sibling dynamic builds Guyer Brothers into successful company with a family atmosphere

Sibling dynamic builds Guyer Brothers into successful company with a family atmosphere

When talking with successful contractors, you often hear them credit the people that work for them. There’s a reason for that. Most people in this business understand that their success is directly tied to how well their employees do their job. Happy employees tend to be the best employees and the business owners that make ... read more
Impressive level of quality combined with a passion for his people keep Dallas contractor at the top of his field

Impressive level of quality combined with a passion for his people keep Dallas contractor at the top of his field

After Vern Larman returned to the Dallas area from a two-year stint as a missionary in Bolivia, he found he had a passion and expertise for excavation. During his five years working for a pool excavation contractor he learned to master the excavator to become the company’s most profitable crew member. As his experience grew, ... read more
Zeal for diversification, taking care of fleet key to Wm. Winkler Company’s success

Zeal for diversification, taking care of fleet key to Wm. Winkler Company’s success

"We love to do anything that involves concrete,” says Brian Winkler, 47, president of Wm. Winkler Company.  In fact, concrete has been Wm. Winkler Company’s material of choice since Brian’s grandfather started the firm in Spokane, Washington, in 1919. His grandfather did curb and gutter work, and Brian’s father, the oldest of 11 children, joined two ... read more
Mentoring spirit enables Pennsylvania contractor Doug Thomas to build a people-first company

Mentoring spirit enables Pennsylvania contractor Doug Thomas to build a people-first company

There are two red chairs in Doug Thomas’ office. Sitting in one when Thomas closes the door is not where you want to be. That means it’s time for a serious talk and, fortunately, it doesn’t happen too often. Such talks are reserved for the most blatant of safety violators at Thomas Construction, located in Grove ... read more
Reputation built upon speed, technology and old school skills makes Jeremy Hiltz our 2014 Contractor of the Year

Reputation built upon speed, technology and old school skills makes Jeremy Hiltz our 2014 Contractor of the Year

Although Jeremy Hiltz started his own company in 1996, his roots in construction go much deeper. When he was just five years old he would get up early, creep downstairs, grab his lunch pail and wait for his dad by the door, hoping to get a ride to the jobsite. “I was pretty low maintenance,” Hiltz ... read more
South Dakota contractor’s work in his small town’s moment of crisis provides framework for growth

South Dakota contractor’s work in his small town’s moment of crisis provides framework for growth

Each February, Gale Nitteberg, his wife Sandy and their grandchildren pack up and head south for about a month to escape the harsh South Dakota winter for the warm beaches of Florida. He says years ago he and his wife talked about leaving South Dakota and maybe moving somewhere warmer, but it was never something they ... read more
How a flooded ice skating rink helped one contractor start his own business

How a flooded ice skating rink helped one contractor start his own business

Everyone has to deal with unexpected changes in their lives, and often in their careers. For Brian Winot, owner of Northeast Site Contractors in East Stroudsberg, Pennsylvania, the unplanned paths he’s taken has made his business what it is today—a successful commercial site development contracting firm with 30 employees. Although construction is all Winot has ever ... read more
Community involvement, business acumen drives Phillips Companies, one of our 2014 Contractor of the Year finalists

Community involvement, business acumen drives Phillips Companies, one of our 2014 Contractor of the Year finalists

“How about some basketball tonight?” It turns out that Brad Phillip’s question to me was less about cheering on the Wright State Raiders (who won 77 to 67 that night against Youngstown State) than it was about fulfilling a commitment to the Boy Scouts, who were using a box at the Wright State stadium for an ... read more
How a loyalty to your employees can result in big growth for your construction business

How a loyalty to your employees can result in big growth for your construction business

“I’ve stayed with Larman Construction so long because of this guy right here,” said Fred Barhydt, pointing a finger at company owner Vernnen Larman. Barhydt, a Larman employee for 30 years, was just one of the employees I met expressing this sentiment during my visit to the Garland, Texas-based Equipment World Contractor of the Year finalist. The ... read more
Concrete work the “sweet spot” for Wm. Winkler Co., 2014 Contractor of the Year finalist (VIDEO)

Concrete work the “sweet spot” for Wm. Winkler Co., 2014 Contractor of the Year finalist (VIDEO)

“We love to do anything that involves concrete,” says Brian Winkler, 47, president of Wm. Winkler Co., one of 12 finalists in the 2014 Contractor of the Year program. “It’s everywhere and it’s sustainable, It’s a very versatile material.” Concrete has been Wm. Winkler Co.’s material of choice since Brian’s grandfather started the firm in Spokane, ... read more
How contractor Richard Gordon found the right size for success at Baystate Engineering

How contractor Richard Gordon found the right size for success at Baystate Engineering

Richard Gordon grew up in the operator’s seat. He’s been operating equipment since he was a kid, running skid steers around in the yard, the machine a capable extension of his curious and active mind. As he grew up in South Windsor, Connecticut, he spent his summers working as a laborer and equipment operator before heading ... read more
West Virginia contractor inspires devotion through his own loyalty to others

West Virginia contractor inspires devotion through his own loyalty to others

In today’s fickle world, many are often willing to abandon what they know and like for the latest and greatest, especially when it comes to the job market. Construction is no different; many contractors will tell you half their labor will leave and work for someone else for a seemingly tiny pay increase. That’s one of ... read more
Diversity, flexibility lead North Carolina’s Mitch Cox Construction through recession

Diversity, flexibility lead North Carolina’s Mitch Cox Construction through recession

Editor’s Note: Mitch Cox was a finalist for 2012 Contractor of the Year. He started Mitch Cox Construction Inc. in 1980 in Johnson City, Tennessee. The company has 35 employees with annual volume of $8 million to $10 million. The company serves the MOB, renovation, office and retail construction markets. Mitch Cox, CEO and founder of the company ... read more
Charles D. Lowder Inc. wins Equipment World’s top safety award

Charles D. Lowder Inc. wins Equipment World’s top safety award

When a firm is well established, there can be an attitude of not fixing what isn’t broken while old ideas and ways of doing things hold firm. Which is why Gene Lowder, president of Charles D. Lowder Inc., celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, took a different approach with his safety program. The company’s efforts in ... read more
Nitteberg Construction Co., small South Dakota town share a bond

Nitteberg Construction Co., small South Dakota town share a bond

Each February, Gale Nitteberg, his wife and their grandchildren pack up and head south for about month to escape the harsh South Dakota winter for the warm beaches of Florida. He says years ago he and his wife thought about leaving South Dakota and maybe moving somewhere warmer, but it was never something they were serious ... read more
Entrepreneurial spirit serves North Carolina’s Page & Associates well in tough times

Entrepreneurial spirit serves North Carolina’s Page & Associates well in tough times

Editor’s Note: Jane Page was a finalist for 2012 Contractor of the Year. She and her former husband started Page & Associates in 1979 in Johnson City, Tennessee. The company has 25 employees with annual volume of $3 million to $5 million. The company serves the site development, general construction, utilities and curbing and sidewalks markets. The ... read more
Deep roots sustain Brown Brothers Construction

Deep roots sustain Brown Brothers Construction

It’s a testament to determination that Brown Brothers Construction has survived and thrived in the southern Utah town of Loa, population 600. This year, in addition to being one of Equipment World’s Contractor of the Year finalists, Albert, Michael and Ellis Brown are celebrating the 50th year of the business started by their grandfather in ... read more
Jesse Steger (right) with his son Paul.

Fourth-generation grading firm evolves with industry changes

  The story of Steger Construction, Dyersville, Iowa, is one of generations. The family business, one of our 2013 Contractor of the Year finalists, began in 1948 with Herb and Fay Steger, grandfather and uncle of present owner, Jesse Steger. And now Jesse's son, Paul, has joined the firm. As Paul — a University of Northern Iowa ... read more
Robert Brash, Roice Construction, found his career on a whim

Robert Brash, Roice Construction, found his career on a whim

Editor's Note: Robert Brash was a finalist for 2012 Contractor of the Year. He started Roice Construction in 2000 in Allison Park, Pennsylvania. He has 16 employees with annual volume of $3 million to $5 million. He serves the site prep, utility and stormwater markets. Bob Brash has always been a hands-on guy who likes to ... read more
New Jersey’s Glendale Excavating is a company run by brothers

New Jersey’s Glendale Excavating is a company run by brothers

Contractors and great stories are natural duos, proven once again during my time with Glendale Excavating in Vorhees, New Jersey. One of 12 finalists for our 2013 Contractor of the Year award, Glendale is run by three brothers — Thomas, Daniel and Greg Giangiulio — who swap stories with ease. First there’s the tale of Ernie ... read more
Third-generation paver creates his own roads to follow

Third-generation paver creates his own roads to follow

During January, the Equipment World editorial team spreads out across the country to interview the 12 finalists for our Contractor of the Year program. Since we've chosen them through a meticulous vetting process, you can imagine we'll come back with some pretty good stories from the class of 2013, all of which run in the ... read more
Todd Bennick, high-flying motorcycle champ, finds new career in heavy equipment

Todd Bennick, high-flying motorcycle champ, finds new career in heavy equipment

Todd Bennick looked around one day and decided that the wild and wooly life on the road was not the path God wanted him to follow.
Husband and wife team up at the core of Bennett Contracting

Husband and wife team up at the core of Bennett Contracting

“Out-of-the-box” duo goes through Florida’s housing slump, emerging with a new emphasis… and a new business venture.
Relationships key with Stief Counts, The Counts Company

Relationships key with Stief Counts, The Counts Company

  Stief Counts Chattanooga, TN   The Counts Company Year started: 1991 Number of employees: 4 Annual volume: $3 to $5 million Markets served: Renovations, new builds, metal buildings   Stief Counts knows the value of quality work. The son of a master cabinet maker, Counts grew up in his father’s workshop in Winchester, Tennessee. There, his father planted the seeds of a work ethic ... read more
Construction heritage runs deep with Jonathan Lane, JML Trucking & Excavating

Construction heritage runs deep with Jonathan Lane, JML Trucking & Excavating

By Mike Anderson     Jonathan Lane Errol, New Hampshire   JML Trucking & Excavating Year started: 2001 Number of employees: 35 Annual volume: $5 to $7 million Markets served: Site prep, road building, winter maintenance, forestry, underground utilities     Up in the North Woods of New Hampshire, a cool, crisp 25 degrees constitutes a nice winter’s day. Just imagine what it’s like at 4 o’clock in ... read more
Moving outside of his comfort zone helped Steve Beam bridge the gap in his business

Moving outside of his comfort zone helped Steve Beam bridge the gap in his business

An avid sportsman, Beam, 51, loves spending time outdoors – making construction an ideal profession. But when the recession hit and jeopardized the future of his company, he aimed for survival and crossed over into new markets.Patiently waiting for his target has landed Steve Beam big bucks with both of his passions: hunting and construction. Road ... read more
Charles Graham, Graham and Sons, uses construction to give back

Charles Graham, Graham and Sons, uses construction to give back

For Chuck Graham, owning a successful construction company means more than being able to provide for his family – it means giving back to his fellow man in a way many could never imagine. By Amy Materson Like many construction companies, Graham and Sons has always been a family affair. Started more than 45 years ago by ... read more
Tim Davis, Straight Line Construction, builds on construction foundation

Tim Davis, Straight Line Construction, builds on construction foundation

Tim Davis Jr. Pueblo West, Colorado   Straight Line Construction Year started: 1982 Number of employees: 95 Annual volume: $3 to $5 million Markets served: Commercial and residential installation of helical piers, micro piles, compaction grouting, mud jacking     Having a degree in engineering, Tim Davis Jr. welcomes technological challenges. As a contractor, he has the resources and capabilities to put his solutions into ... read more
Jon Fye, Fye Excavating, follows his passion for construction

Jon Fye, Fye Excavating, follows his passion for construction

By Lauren Heartsill Dowdle   Jon Fye Sperry, Iowa Fye Excavating Year started: 1995 Number of employees: 45 Annual volume: $6.3 million Markets served: Commercial site work, utilities, demolition, sewer, storm water, heavy equipment hauling and trucking Jon Fye left the security of a long-time job to follow his passion for construction. A go-getter spirit, family-focused lifestyle and entrepreneurial expertise gave Jon Fye the confidence ... read more