By Equipment World Staff | June 12, 2007
Jeff O’Risky had a stable factory job and two young children in 1997 when he had a chance to buy a small excavating business and its only piece of construction equipment – a 1980 bulldozer. The decision wasn’t an easy one.
“I kept saying to myself, ‘I’ve got a nice job and I’m going to throw it all away to buy this bulldozer,’” O’Risky remembers.
He grappled with the idea until a coworker at the General Electric factory in Mt. Vernon, Indiana, told him he was going to buy the excavating company if O’Risky wouldn’t.
O’Risky quit his job the next day and has been busy doing site prep – mostly residential – ever since. As far as the housing market in Evansville is concerned, there is no recession, O’Risky explains.
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O’Risky Excavating has been growing modestly, “slow and steady like we want to,” O’Risky says. “Our local market is so diversified it’s kind of insulated and doesn’t really react to national ups and downs.”
The company, which does site development, subdivisions, basements and some light commercial work, has added a scraper, skid steer, semi truck and a dozer to its lineup. “We’re also still keeping all our old machines,” O’Risky says.
O’Risky admits he sometimes has to quell the itch to look at other contracting avenues beyond what he’s doing. “I’m always trying to exploit new opportunities,” he says, “but if you stick to what you are good at everything seems to work out. You don’t want to lose focus on what got you there.”
Advice: “This is an expensive business to get into so make sure you manage and limit your debt ratio. Well-maintained used equipment will serve you well, especially if there’s a downturn.”