Independent General Contracting finds Soil Connect and sees increased efficiencies
When Grant Hendricks took over his family’s business, it had been serving the Long Island, NY area for almost seventy years. Independent General Contracting (IGC) was founded by his great-grandfather in 1952 as a heavy highway, hot-mix asphalt and asphalt emulsion company. His father took over the company in 1963, and eventually Grant moved into the lead role in 1985. Over time, IGC evolved into its current iteration as a site development contractor specializing in demolition, earth moving and drainage.
That work began in 2012 and brought with it projects that generated a tremendous amount of clean fill, and the company’s success led to issues with finding places for that fill to go. Hendricks would literally scroll through his Rolodex and call contact after contact looking for ways to move the excess material from his sites. “In those days, we were constantly looking for places to take clean fill,” he says. “The challenge was finding contractors who need the amounts we were producing. Not as easy in those days as it is today.”
One thing that is making it easier for IGC is an app called Soil Connect. Soil Connect is the first and only institutionally backed digital marketplace focused on the soil and aggregates industry. The platform was created to solve the high costs and inefficiencies associated with the transport and management of soil, aggregates and other materials. The marketplace offers a seamless and streamlined solution for excavators, contractors, developers, landscapers and other building professionals to network and transact with one another while saving time and money and positively impacting the environment.
IGC runs excavators, dozers, loaders, compactors and haul trucks on its sites. Suffice it to say, there are a lot of moving parts and managing where to get the fill, and who would take it had to be simplified. The Soil Connect Marketplace did just that. Founded by Cliff Fetner is 2018 as a resource for bringing together those who have dirt and aggregates with those who need it, it has quickly gained a following among contractors like IGC. “The Soil Connect app makes moving or getting fill very easy,” Hendricks says. “You click on an icon and it shows you who needs material, where they need it, and how far away they are. It’s so convenient.”
The impetus for finally seeking out a simplified approach to getting rid of his excess fill was a large project in Plainview, Long Island. The site work resulted in a seemingly insurmountable level of soil, and Hendricks knew there weren’t enough contacts in his Rolodex to take it all off his hands. He began to do some research and came upon Fetner and Soil Connect. “He told me about an app he had built and how it was being used by contractors to find and get rid of soil and aggregates,” recalls Hendrix. “From what Cliff told me, I could tell I would benefit immediately on the Plainview job, but I also knew I could find uses for this approach across our entire footprint.”
As the Soil Connect Marketplace has grown, IGC has found it to be quite useful. On a recent project, a piece of property Hendrix purchased, the company has witnessed the other side of the Soil Connect benefit. “Right now, I’m looking to take fill,” Hendrix notes. “I purchased a large piece of property that requires a significant grade adjustment, and that adjustment is going to require us to import a significant volume of clean fill. So, I’m going to wind up using this app both to find a home for clean fill and also to receive.”
Efficiencies and eTickets Too
The vision Fetner had for the app was to make moving dirt and aggregates easier than it had ever been—efficiency being a word used often in the development of Soil Connect. Hendricks witnesses those efficiencies on a daily basis. “From an efficiency standpoint, it’s incredibly efficient,” he says. “An example is a job that we did in July 2020 in a parking lot expansion for a bus company. And we, very quickly generated about four or 5,000 cubic yards of excess fill. By putting a notice out there on the app, within a matter of days, I had numerous people interested. Once we had done the testing protocol and determined the material was clean, we were able to put the analytical data out in an email to perspective takers. Within days the whole job was accounted for, so that, from an efficiency standpoint, that completely made the job. There were people who needed fill. They came. They brought their trucks, we loaded their trucks, and the material was gone. And it had all the proper paperwork and manifest. And so, it was a real complete loop.”
Another product in the Soil Connect suite that IGC sees benefit from is its eTickets platform. Designed to be an easy way to capture, track and share details of the hauling of materials from one destination to the next, eTickets helps companies like IGC eliminate the use of paper tickets, and collect e-signatures. Two very important benefits, especially in the face of the current pandemic. For Hendricks and IGC, it has been a very valuable asset. “We’re able to do ticketing right from a handheld phone,” he mentions. “That is a significant advance in technology for people who are moving dirt. We also benefit from a logging standpoint. When you have to keep a daily log, as it relates to material that’s inbound into your project, eTickets makes that process simplified and very organized.”
Hendricks sees growth in IGC’s future, and with tools like the Soil Connect app, he sees that growth happening more efficiently than it ever has. Working smarter has made his business run more effectively as well, and as Soil Connect brings more products to market, IGC will no doubt be adding them into its daily workflow.