Taking Pride in Construction
Heavy civil construction company Muschlitz Excavating is a leading provider of site services in Eastern Pennsylvania. This company prefers to partner with developers from the earliest design stages of a project because it works better – and working better is everything.
Muschlitz specializes in a range of services including land clearing, land grading, rock removal and crushing, demolition, underground utility installation, milling and paving, surveying, materials processing, and waste management.
Located in Pennsylvania just outside of the Slate Belt, Muschlitz crushes the old slate piles left over from the slate-mining industry and uses the material as a fill for many of its projects. The leftover piles can be an eyesore, but Muschlitz has been able to refresh the landscape by giving the waste slate a new purpose.
Another creative way in which Muschlitz recycles it, after it is processed, is as a material for covering local landfill cells.
Playing it close
With its headquarters in Bath, Pennsylvania, Muschlitz keeps its service area relatively close to home to ensure that it can always provide the quality work for which it has become known.
“We service about eight surrounding counties; that’s the area that we cover. Right now that’s what we’re comfortable with and from one location that’s the furthest extent we feel that we are efficient and productive,” said Steven Goffredo, Chief Operating Officer at Muschlitz Excavating.
The family company was founded in 1990 by Ron Muschlitz and his two sons, Jack and David. In the beginning, they were equipped with a track loader, a dump truck, and a backhoe to perform primarily residential work.
“We started out back in 1990, doing excavation services for homebuilders for new homes, digging basements, grading yards, installing septic systems, and that kind of house line work. After a few years of that, we branched out and started looking at some public projects,” says Jack Muschlitz, President of the company. The Muschlitz team gradually moved into larger developments with roadwork and utility work. The company was incorporated in 1999 and quickly grew into larger and more demanding projects.
Growing the right way
Repeat clients often ask the Muschlitz leadership why they choose not to take advantage of the current buoyant economy in Pennsylvania by expanding the company as quickly as possible. The reason Muschlitz gives is a simple one – that its ability to grow is entirely dependent on its capacity to increase employee numbers. Muschlitz is picky about the personnel it brings into the team and does not believe in growth for the sake of growth.
Muschlitz says it will not jeopardize the morale of the team. “One simple rule we have here is good people want to work with good people, so if you start plugging the wrong people in around them, they’re not going to like that environment anymore.
“We can only grow as fast as the good people we’re able to obtain and we’re looking every day for the right people. Equipment is easy, we’re way past the point of a company that worries about that. We plan ahead, plan accordingly, and just make it happen, but it’s the people that are in the seats. It’s the management. It’s the team.” says Steven.
With 20 to 40 job applications a day during peak season, Muschlitz finely sifts candidates to ensure they will fit with the company’s long-established staff. Establishing a positive workplace culture is essential.
Once employees are fully trained and incorporated into the business, Muschlitz gives them the freedom to make decisions and be creative, rather than hobble them in an overly structured environment.
The average age of the estimating and project managers at Muschlitz is 34 years, which is unexpected because of the extensive experience among the managers. The team has been working closely together now for quite some time and close relationships have been developed, which will should lead to even greater longevity of employment.
“A lot of people just say it, but we are a company that truly does more with less,” says David Muschlitz, company vice president. “We hold our people in high regard, and we’re lucky that we employ some of the best in the business. It’s taken us a long time to build the team that we have, but we’ve got such a great mix of youth and experience, it’s phenomenal.”
Added to that, Muschlitz Excavating is in the deserved position that its equipment is plentiful and state of the art, and its management skills and expertise as a company are fully developed and proficient.
However, despite being in that enviable place, the company’s management sees no reason to become complacent.
So when the leadership drew the conclusion that the only real way to improve the quality of its service was to lead by example – and lead better – the senior managers came together and agreed to specifically focus on becoming great motivators, portraying positivity to their people.
Treating employees with a high level of respect, gratitude, and a positive attitude has had a trickle-down effect, inspiring productivity and dependability.
This all fits in with the frequent reminders within the company that the simple core values of the company are honesty, integrity, and consistency. Although the first two values may be commonly bandied around the industry, they are real to the Muschlitz team, and the third is also key. The team never cuts corners and it consistently provides the same quality service on every project.
I Build America
Three years ago, Muschlitz became a member of I Build America. The name of the organization is catchy because it evokes a great sense of pride in construction. I Build America is dedicated to showing the value of the industry and changing the perception of construction as a career choice in America. I Build America publishes articles and photos on companies including Muschlitz, to the excitement of its employees at the recognition.
As the voice of construction workers nationwide, I Build America promotes the understanding that the choice to go into construction trades directly from high school is a worthwhile and rewarding career path.
“We’re always trying to instill a sense of purpose in our people, and I think I Build America just kind of got it right,” said Steven. “I loved the idea and it’s one of the things that got us started with social media.”
The Muschlitz team has found that the general public enjoys seeing how the roadways they drive on every day are made, how the buildings they work in are built, and even how underground utility installations are done. Detailing these projects online for viewers enables a growing appreciation out there for the construction industry and its laborers.
In its drive to remain on the cutting edge of technology in construction, Muschlitz is not afraid of uncharted territories. President of the company, Jack, is known for daring and decisive action.
Years back when GPS was introduced, Jack was one of the first in the area to adopt it on development sites. This approach also applies to the company’s equipment capabilities. Many of the competing contractors around have large machinery, but Muschlitz is known to team up the mighty duo of a Cat 374 and a Cat 390 on the same job. Not as common.
This bold kind of action plan with no hedging of bets adds value to projects again and again by nailing the schedule and increasing efficiency.
The office view
When an operator is sitting in the cab of a machine, Muschlitz calls it their office view. Roughly 75 percent of the equipment is made up of single operator machines – only one person running it. There are multiple reasons for this method. The operator takes extra pride in the machine, and maintenance improves significantly when equipment is not bouncing between different operators. Efficiency of equipment use increases, too.
“We’re able to keep machines running at a higher pace, longer, because that one person knows that machine inside and out because they run it every day,” explains Steven. When an employee recognizes their piece of machinery as an office view, and it has their name displayed on the side, they get a real sense of achievement from taking good care of its components and keeping it clean.
The high retention rate of its employees is one of the key aspects of the company’s success. Muschlitz attracts employees not only because it values its people enough to offer top-dollar salaries, but because of the pride within the team in being part of something meaningful.
“No matter where you work, you’re going to spend the same amount of time away from your family, so why not be a part of a company that is good at it and appreciates what you do every day?” says Steven.
Muschlitz is a second generation family company celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. For the future, it plans to continuously improve its services and resources to a level that can’t be matched, even though it is not especially focused on all-out growth.
Steven adds, “It’s not always about being the biggest, to us, it’s about being the best.”