Case Studies

Tschiggfrie Excavating Co.

Family business provides innovative solutions for more than 50 years

For 53 years, Tschiggfrie Excavating Co. has been a leader in the Midwest market creating innovative solutions to traditional excavation, construction and underground work. “We’ve always been the first people on the block to bring a new idea into the industry,” shares Rod Tschiggfrie, president of Tschiggfrie Excavating. “That really makes a difference, because there are plenty of companies out there that are good at everyday jobs; you’ve got to find a way to differentiate yourself.” Located in Dubuque, Iowa, Tschiggfrie Excavating specializes in heavy highway construction catering to the public sectors throughout Iowa, Wisconsin and Illinois.

“We’re primarily a horizontal contractor,” says Rod. “We do ground level and below. The tougher the job, the deeper it is, the better we do. We’re the go-to company for the large-scale challenging projects.”

Tschiggfrie Excavating Co.

Growth through perseverance

Stemming from humble beginnings, Tschiggfrie Excavating was founded in 1963 by Rod’s father, Ed Tschiggfrie. With barely a high school education, and working three jobs to make ends meet, Ed was approved for a $2,400 loan to purchase a Caterpillar tractor he spotted on the side of the road one day. Soon Ed was performing various types of services for local farmers. After a couple of years, Ed finally reached a level where it became necessary for him to hire his first employee. “The rest is history,” says Rod. “We’ve have since grown into a self-sufficient company working across three states.”

Today Tschiggfrie Excavating has approximately 110 employees, which fluctuates depending on its workload. The operation remains a small, family-owned company and credits its ability to work as a team as a major factor of its success. “We’re all in this business to make money, but success to me is when we have all of the positions filled with quality people,” says Rod. “Once you do that, you’ll be able to make money.”

Tschiggfrie Excavating has provided jobs to people who have been with the company for more than three decades, contributing and building expertise and ingenuity. “We even have second-generation employees,” shares Rod. “It says a lot when a family commits decades of service to a company. When we see people retire, it’s a sad day. Anybody can go out and buy a piece of equipment but it’s all about the people, the knowledge and the pride we put into every job.”

The dedication and commitment of Tschiggfrie Excavating’s employees display itself in the event of an emergency as well. Rod recalls in 2013 when a water main broke in Dubuque on Christmas Day. Although, not all employees were required to be on call that day, the response was overwhelming from Tschiggfrie Excavating workers willing to leave their homes on the holiday to assist in the situation. “It was subzero temperatures and folks sacrificed time with their families in order to tend to the break,” says Rod. “That’s not people just looking to make extra money. That’s the dedication, spirit and quality of the people that we have.”

The ability to retain quality employees has been generated through Tschiggfrie Excavating’s reputation for offering a higher pay scale with great benefits. “At the end of the day, our people can wear our company hat and shirt and be proud of it,” says Rod. “People like to take pride in where they work and that’s an area where we feel we excel.”

Ingenuity and innovation

As of April 2016, Tschiggfrie Excavating has been collaborating with another local contractor on the Bee Branch Creek Restoration. Slated for completion in 2017, this project involves replacing nearly one mile of storm sewer with a creek and flood plan that resembles the design of one that traversed the area 100 years ago. After several major floods in the area over the years, the Bee Branch Creek Restoration will provide relief by allowing stormwater to flow into an open channel, rather than an old storm sewer that is no longer capable of handling the amount of water.

“We’re essentially digging a river right through Dubuque,” says Rod. “Through the assistance of federal funding, the town was able to put together a master plan to construct a bigger, healthier underground stormwater system. That entailed removing quite a few structures and creating an open canal.” With a price tag of approximately $30 million, the Bee Branch Creek Restoration is will be one of the largest projects that Tschiggfrie Excavating has ever completed.

“We have around 100 employees now and in the work season, it fluctuates depending on the workload,” adds Rod. “We’ve remained a small, family company and we always work together as a team.”

With Tschiggfrie Excavating relatively comfortable in its current position, the company does not have any immediate plans for substantial growth. “We enjoy having our upper management remain involved with every project and client,” Rod explains. “This allows us to make quick decisions and maintain strong communication.” Tschiggfrie Excavating Co. will remain a leader in the Midwest through personable service and ingenuity.

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