Case Studies

Tom Boyce Excavating Inc.

Providing efficient, high-quality horizontal construction services

Tom Boyce founded Tom Boyce Excavating Inc. (TBE) in 1988 as a small underground utilities and site preparation company in Branson, Mo. The business has grown from a one-man operation, with just Boyce and an old backhoe, into a growing construction company with 60 employees.

Today, Boyce’s team works on horizontal and underground construction projects across the central United States. TBE has performed contracts in Arizona, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kansas, Arkansas, Illinois and at home in Missouri, among other locations. “We’re all over the middle,” Boyce explains. “We don’t hit either coast or too far north, but we have a large geographic footprint.”

TBE specializes in underground utility work and site work, with approximately 80 percent of work in utilities. “We are not a general contractor,” Boyce notes. “We are a prime subcontractor working with larger general contractors, mostly national and regional.” The team performs nearly all aspects of utility and site work in-house, with the exception of blasting and paving. On a local level, Boyce favors a small network of reliable subcontractors for these specialty tasks.

Building relationships

With a number of lasting partnerships, TBE has been involved in a broad range of projects for both public and private clients over the years. In the public realm, the crew has been busy with a few major sewer projects. “We have been working for the local sewer district, Taney County Regional Sewer District,” Boyce explains. “The district supplies sewer service in all rural areas outside of the municipalities, such as Branson and Hollister. We did 12,000 feet of gravity-fed sewer line and lift stations, which we completed toward the end of 2013.”

In the private sector, Boyce and his team are working for the owner of Bass Pro Shops, preparing the site for a new restaurant at Dogwood Canyon. “We are currently working on three projects with them,” he notes. “For Dogwood, we are doing a lot of modular block walls in the site preparation aspect of our contract. We have uneven terrain here in the Ozark Mountains. In order to level sites, we put in a lot of large block walls; they are modular block walls that we stack like a puzzle. The Dogwood base project was about 70,000 square feet. TBE is a prime contractor in working for Killian Construction Company located in Springfield, Mo., on this project.”

TBE is currently working on a project for Missouri State University in Springfield. “We are working on athletic facilities for a football stadium, track, soccer field, lacrosse field and a sand volleyball arena, including all site preparation,” Boyce elaborates. “We are doing a large amount of storm drain and waterline relocation. The university is rebuilding the football stadium and has decided to build other new facilities and venues. We are prepping, getting ready for the turf company. We will do all pad grading, cutting and filling and install all under-slab storm drain. We do not install turf, specialty companies do that. We are the prime sub on that, working with Dewitt Construction located in Springfield, Mo., on the project. We do a lot of work with them on hospitals, and other site development projects all over the central Midwest.”

Staying ahead in a challenging market

Boyce and his team have had a lot of success in recent years, although like many contractors, the recession proved challenging. “2009 through 2011 were very difficult in construction,” he explains. “We have started to bounce back out of it. For us the recovery started in 2012; 2013 was better and 2014 is shaping up, while it is still early in the year, to be better than 2013. We are running very cautious at this time. I don’t see another relapse ahead, but things are still a little shaky. We are upgrading our fleet, but not to the amount we would if the economy was just rolling along.”

Despite these challenges, TBE is still up and running, with a strong backlog of work down the line. Boyce credits a strong and experienced team with the company’s success. The business has very low turnover and many of Boyce’s employees have worked with him for more than 15 years. “You have to have that kind of employee base to build a strong company,” he notes. “We are able to get into a groove and we have built a very good reputation. That leads to repeat business.”

Boyce goes on to note that the company is very technology-driven. “We have pretty impressive estimating software, cut and fill software and cash management programs for a company of our size,” he continues. “That helped us through the downturn. It was a struggle, but we did survive and came out meaner and leaner than before. From a profit standpoint, our job costing system is a key component. We do a twofold progress and profitability check for our projects on a weekly basis. There are always problems – equipment can break, you can have weather issues and it is out of your control. Looking at our progress and finances weekly allows us to have a truer picture of how a job is going and take corrective measures when we need to.”

Above all else, Boyce prioritizes relationships. His greatest determining factor for success is repeat business. While company growth has required him to spend more time in the office, Boyce is frequently on job sites. “I try to visit our job sites every day,” he explains. “It keeps me in contact with our employees and honestly, I wish I could be out there more.”

Boyce has a strong presence in the business, a rare quality for a specialty contractor of this size. Through communication and dedication to quality and efficiency, Boyce has kept Tom Boyce Excavating Inc. on track for continued growth as the market grows.

Published on: July 22, 2014

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