How Diversifying Can Help Grow Your HDD Business

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How Diversifying Can Help Grow Your HDD Business

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Whether you’ve been operating your own business for six months or 20 years, providing quality service and meeting your customers’ expectations is what keeps work coming in. 

Of course, sometimes customers will ask you to provide a service that’s outside of your core services. So what do you do? It’s a question contractors wrestle with every day. Your options are to say “no,” subcontract the work or move forward with the job. Turning down work isn’t easy, but attempting to take on a project outside of your expertise carries a lot of risks — and subcontracting takes a lot of effort to coordinate.

Father-son team, Jeremy and Jonathan Fields, love getting asked the question: “Can you also do this?” because it’s an opportunity for them to make their customers happy and to diversify their business. 

Entrepreneurial beginnings

Jeremy Fields is the owner of Fields Construction & Excavating Inc., Fields Construction International, Net Tech International, a marina and The Sawmill restaurant — all located in Canandaigua, New York. His entrepreneurial spirit led him to start his first pair of companies in 1990: a technology company that designed computer boards and software for NASA, and a general construction company, helping area lakefront owners with landscaping, site development, tree and debris removal and lake-frontage development.  

Those businesses kept Jeremy busy, which is why he surrounded himself with a lot of family to help both organizations thrive. When Jeremy’s son, Jonathan, reached an age where he could start helping with the business, Jeremy loaded him up with managing Fields Construction & Excavating projects. As happy customers asked the Fields to take on more projects, they decided to expand their services through acquisitions and equipment. 

Adding construction services

Fields Construction & Excavating is the Fields’ largest company and provides full-service site development for western New York state. The company’s specialty is lake-frontage development, which involves a wide range of construction services. Jonathan says when the company first started they used several subcontractors on large projects. “As time went on, we decided it would be more efficient for our customers, and us, if we brought those additional services under our roof, either through additional training or acquiring other companies,” he explains. 

The Fields don’t take the decision to add a new service lightly; there is always a lot of discussion and research involved with the process. “Whether we’re buying a company, or adding equipment, we must determine if there will be a long-term benefit for our customers and our business,” Jonathan says. “We also want to make sure we either have someone on our team that is an expert in that area, or we will invest in training to ensure we provide quality service.”  

Getting into HDD

Around two years ago, the Fields decided it was time to add horizontal directional drilling to its list of services. “Many of our lakefront development projects require us to run water and electrical lines,” Jonathan says. “We were subbing out the work, but our other crews would often find themselves having to wait for the subcontractor to finish up their work before we could continue with ours — so, we bought the business of one of our subcontractors. Now we truly are full service.” 

Of course, just having the equipment doesn’t make a contractor an expert, which is why Jonathan enrolled in the Vermeer HDD Circuit training program. Jonathan said it was important to him to learn HDD techniques from experts. “There’s a lot of competition among contractors, and I wanted to make sure we provided our customer with the best service, and that we do our jobs right,” he says. “I think being able to show potential customers that we are certified is another way we can differentiate ourselves.”  

In addition to learning the proper techniques for operating a horizontal directional drill, Jonathan says he learned about mixing drilling fluids and locating. “Around the lake, we perform some pretty challenging bores through rocky soil conditions, and making sure we have the right drilling fluid mixture will certainly help us be more successful. I learned a lot about planning a bore on the front end and how that will help a project go more smoothly. After I had a chance to use the DigiTrack Falcon F5 locating system, I knew we had to have one, so I placed an order when I got back.” 

Successful growth

The Fields family has never been afraid to take on a challenge or try something new. They attribute all their business success to not being afraid of taking chances, seeking out opportunities and investing in quality people and equipment.

To take advantage of opportunities, similar to how the Fields have grown their businesses, keep track of all those times customers ask you to do something outside your core services. With a little planning, the right equipment and trained people, those requests can help you grow your business.


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