We wrote about Bloomsdale Excavating, a family-run company for three generations, back in November of 2015. It serves many industries but concentrates on excavation, blasting and miscellaneous concrete work for site development. Bloomsdale is also known for the development and implementation of safe mining practices that help other companies throughout the country. We spoke with Executive Vice President Pete Buback and President Scott Drury about the company’s many recent developments.
Roller compacted concrete (RCC) was previously becoming a big part of what Bloomsdale Excavating did. It would have taken a large investment of capital to continue the effort, and so ownership decided to invest those dollars in equipment that supports its grading operations. “As disappointed as I was personally with that, it was the right decision at the time. We are no longer in the RCC business,” says Scott. Bloomsdale has instead expanded its conventional concrete abilities and services for clients.
Bloomsdale performed well on projects involving RCC and added to some ground-breaking projects. Due to these efforts, the Missouri Department of Transportation has a compacted concrete pavement specification to which Bloomsdale contributed with research and development.
“We were proud of our efforts and proud of the results but decided to spend these dollars on other things. We were ahead of the curve,” says Scott. Bloomsdale has the people and skills in place to start this up again, so while it may not be on the radar presently, it could return again in the future.
The Nexus Construction Service Group sister company spinoff was successful. Pete Buback, who had previously been at Bloomsdale, was one of its founding members of Nexus and its vice president of business development. He and Bill Priesmeyer recently returned to Bloomsdale, with Bill now serving as vice president of pre-construction.
Nexus is still active and pursuing construction management, GPS file building, survey work, and design and constructability analysis.
If Bloomsdale gets busy, finding workers is difficult. Being a union contractor, it first calls the union hall, and if its members are busy elsewhere, Bloomsdale will go out on its own to find talent. The lack of skilled workers is a problem and is recognized in the industry, but contracting organizations such as the Association of General Contractors (AGC) of Missouri are working on getting more people into this line of work. The AGC will go to career fairs, middle schools, and high schools talking about the trades and opportunities to make a good living in this industry. The unions are supporting these efforts as well by working on campaigns to get people educated about the potential.
Another issue is the lack of much-needed infrastructure funding. “There are scant few good projects out there. In Missouri and Illinois, we are battling a lack of transportation funding. There are no transportation programs in either state to support a large excavating contractor. When a project presents itself, we are battling a heavy list of bidders. Yes, we do have opportunities coming up, but if I told you, I would have to kill you,” jokes Scott.
As of January 1, 2018, Bloomsdale has begun an effort of strategic planning. An accountability chart and Bloomsdale created responsibilities associated with positions. “We revised our structure a little bit in that accountability chart. The biggest change was in looking at the position of president. The responsibility of being the forecaster and implementation of day-to-day business falls on one person. We realized that it takes two people to do it all,” says Pete.
The first person serves as a visionary to look ahead and set corporate policies and philosophies, making sure that these fall in tune with company values. The second person gets things done on a daily basis, so the visionary can continue planning without getting bogged down in the intricacies.
Scott retained the position of president, and Pete serves as executive vice president. “The visionary status is a very natural thing for me. I’m just a dumb old country boy, trying to make a living,” says Scott.
Bloomsdale Excavating’s family history runs deep at more than seventy years. Scott’s grandfather started it in 1946, and he has been a part of this business his whole life. Although only forty-six years old, Scott has been working full-time at Bloomsdale for nearly thirty years. He worked his way up, learning the business, the industry, how to build projects and relate to people.
“My role is to take care of those things that Scott doesn’t want to do,” laughs Pete, who is more of a detail-oriented person. “My responsibility is just the day-to-day operations of the company. Scott is the face of Bloomsdale Excavating. The term visionary is how we describe his role. He can look to the future and chart the appropriate direction. He is the big picture guy.”
Pete has over thirty-four years of industry experience, the last fifteen of which have been with Bloomsdale Excavating. He brings expertise but also knows the company and its way of doing business intimately.
“We are not just co-workers, but good friends, and our personalities mesh, so we work well together. Pete did business development for Bloomsdale for many years, and he knows a lot of people. He is well connected and brings a lot to the table,” says Scott.
Currently, Bloomsdale is staging itself for growth, but the focus will always be on Missouri, Illinois, and Kansas to some degree. The aim is to keep people at home if possible. This may be an old company, but it has a young staff.
“They have families and values. They want to stay close to home. We have had our stint of travelling over the last five years and are all a little burned out. We are trying to keep them close to home, but I don’t know if that will last much longer,” says Scott.
While these have been the biggest changes that Bloomsdale has seen in decades, it does not end there. In addition to the normal operating divisions, it was decided that the company needed true sales and marketing positions. This is something that the company has never endeavored to do before, but now can.
All this adjusting has helped with business development. The responsibility was split amongst people so no single person is held accountable. “If one single person does not have accountability, then no one does. We finally have a sales and marketing aspect to our company. The conversations only began at the beginning of the year, but we have moved fast on this,” Pete.