Digging in the dirt, all day, every day. For Harada & Westesson Corp. they are aiming to make that big dream a reality in their hometown of Flint, Michigan.
However, the excavation, grading and demolition field often presents plenty of challenges, especially for a small contractor business of two. But this father and son team is determined not to let anything stand in the way of their vision.
For Justin Harada and his son Westley Westesson, the skills and experience necessary for these market segments are certainly there. However, in order to be successful long-term, they would need some larger equipment on their team.
“We realized what we truly enjoy the most is running equipment and playing in the dirt,” says Westesson.
“This is ultimately where we want to be, but it’s not going to come easy. Entering these market segments is having the capital to obtain and maintain the equipment.”
Harada & Westesson Corp. was established in 2011, but equipment experience dates all the way back to their childhoods. “I have been working with my dad since I was a kid, same with my dad with his father. My grandpa was a well-respected general contractor in Flint,” says Westesson.
The father and son duo believe it isn’t a matter of if, but when they achieve their ultimate goal of working full time in the excavation, grading and demolition markets. For now, Harada & Westesson will continue on the path that is paving the way to get them where they ultimately want to go. Currently the focus is on smaller excavation and grading projects, residential and small commercial excavating, and recently they received their license to install and replace septic systems throughout the county. Additionally, they periodically work on concrete and demolition projects.
The Right Equipment for the Job
For their equipment needs, they go with Takeuchi. The manufacturer has come up big for the company time and again. “We have been using Takeuchi equipment since day one and it is by far some of the best equipment we have ever operated,” says Westesson.
At the moment their lineup includes a TL8 track loader, a TB240 excavator, and a TL130 track loader. The TL130 was purchased in 2011 and helped get their company off the ground. With 4,000-plus hours on it, the machine continues to be utilized and operates well to this day.
“There are so many aspects about Takeuchi we love; the hydraulic pilot controls, high field of vision, operator comfort, quality and user-friendliness,” he says.
“The pilot controls feel like the equipment is an extension of yourself and you can do whatever you want in it. The more precise you get means the less hand work, and the less hand work usually means faster production.”
A Flint plastic factory is a regular customer of Harada & Westesson. Recently, the contractor put their TL130 and TB240 to the test on a complex project requiring a quick turnaround.
The factory needed a pit built for a new, heavy piece of machinery. The contractor provided an extensive amount of work, including using their track loader to jack hammer out an 8-inch concrete floor. With the excavator they dug a pit measuring 15 feet wide by 21 feet long and 6.5 feet deep. They removed and hauled away 100-yards of spoils out of the factory.
For Harada & Westesson, the job would need to be done safely and within five days. Every second of that week counted.
“The piece of equipment for the factory put 25-tons of weight on the foundation we built,” says Westesson. “For the concrete to have ample time to cure, we needed everything to go as planned.”
Adding another layer to this job was the factory keeping production going at the same time the contractor was performing demolition, excavation and construction work. “Safety was our top concern,” he says.
With the visibility Takeuchi machines offer, the contractor says safety was never in doubt. “With the compact and powerful aspects of each of our machines, we kept to our working boundaries they set for us,” says Westesson.
“We love the visibility of our Takeuchi machines. At the factory, we were able to see everything going on around us, which relieves so much of the stress. The project worked out like a well-oiled machine, just like our Takeuchi’s always do,”
Harada & Westesson are only scratching the surface. With one job at a time they are building a name for themselves and the capital to invest in their future dreams.